Stronghold Kingdoms – Review
Stronghold Kingdoms is the first MMORTS adaption of Firefly Studios’ popular Stronghold franchise and was first released in 2009. Fans of the Stronghold series were skeptical at first as many couldn’t see a successful transition to the free to play MMORTS market, however, Firefly Studios incorporated many of the defining features from the franchise such as the hugely in-depth political and economical systems, as well as the franchise trademark of the interactive world map.
Your first decision in Stronghold Kingdoms is the placement of your village, which you can choose to do manually, or let the game assign your location. As I’m from England I chose to manually place my village, and then picked the county I live in. I’d imagine if you’re playing with friends it’s probably best that you all start as close together as possible, as with every MMORTS game, there’s safety in numbers.
The beginning of Stronghold Kingdoms works in a similar way to other MMORTS titles, you’re given a text-based tutorial with an adviser teaching you the basics of the game. You’re asked to construct 1 of each of the resource buildings, Woodcutters Hut, Apple Orchard and Quarry, once you have each of these in place you’ll begin collecting the required resources to advance. After that the tutorial introduces you to the research and honor systems. The research options are quite in-depth allowing you to research a large variety of technologies that do a variety of things such as increasing resource gain, unlocking access to certain buildings or allowing you to train troops at a faster rate. Research is key to progressing through the game so make sure you don’t ignore it, and spend your research points wisely. Next, the adviser introduces you to the unique card system within Stronghold Kingdoms. You’re given a basic card to being with, one that increases your income of wood, a highly valuable resource at the beginning of your career. There are hundreds of cards that you can get, both from questing and buying from the in-game store, they offer huge benefits such as increasing the effectiveness of your troops or cutting down building times. Then the fun stuff starts, you can begin to construct your castle. The castle acts as the military hub for your city, this is where you can be attacked and attack from, removing any danger from your village. You can construct a large variety of defenses for your castle, such as walls and catapults.
As well as advancing your main village, constructing buildings and increasing resource rates, you can also aid your parish. The parish effects your area of influence so by donating gold and other resources, you can increase the range of your expeditions and create more villages further away. In effect, this gives Stronghold Kingdoms a unique 3-way progression system that offers 3 different areas for players to focus on.
Overall, Stronghold Kingdoms is a welcome experience for a new player, the tutorial is thorough and provides a full walkthrough on the basic features of the game. The graphics are great quality for an MMORTS title and fans of the franchise will be happy to see the return of the interactive map, among other features iconic to the Stronghold franchise.