Stronghold Kingdoms Overview
Stronghold Kingdoms is a MMORTS by Firefly Studios based on the strategy titles Stronghold and Stronghold Crusader, both which were massive successes in their days. The focus of Stronghold Kingdoms is on long-term, grand scale strategy, with each player playing a lord in charge of a handful of villages, in the context of a feudal Europe at war with itself. Build up your lands, raise an army, then befriend, dominate, or outright destroy your neighbors in the name of your House. This is a game of diplomacy where who you know might be just as crucial as what you can do, and making the wrong enemy can lead to a brutal, often sudden demise. Though keep in mind, this is a long term experience, and the slow but steady progression can be boring at one moment, or incredibly rewarding when the action picks up. In any case, Stronghold Kingdoms is for the builders and strategist in you.
Build & Progress - See your village rise from a single building to a large and overflowing city. These are the core of the game, and can be pillaged, damaged, or even razed by your enemies. Beware.
Character & Coat-of-Arms Customization – While the character customization is not very deep, there can be as many different coat-of-arms as there are players, with potential for both realism and hilarity.
Research & Quests – A system of research lets you progress through new discoveries, while quests reward you for experimenting and exploring.
Factional PvP – Though you can, and will fight your own battles, much of the action revolves around huge Houses (composed of player factions) struggling against one another for territory and honor.
Grand Strategy – In addition to military action, other elements like agents and ability cards come into play, adding a layer of unpredictability to the action. Think that castle’s undefended? Think again.
Stronghold Kingdoms Screenshots
Stronghold Kingdoms Featured Video
Stronghold Kingdoms – English Launch Trailer
Stronghold Kingdoms Review
Stronghold Kingdoms is one of those quiet hits; it has a solid player base, a novel concept, but very little publicity revolving around it. I’d say that’s actually a pretty good thing, and very good news for the fans after Firefly Studios’ abysmal iterations of the latest Stronghold titles. So what exactly is Stronghold Kingdoms? Well, technically it’s a real time strategy title, but the action is stretched over such a long term that it turns out seeming more like a sort of flash game where you log in, build a few things, then log out for the day. Thus, if you’re looking for a short, intense experience, this isn’t the right game for you.
However that isn’t to say that Stronghold Kingdoms can’t be involving, and quite the opposite actually; over time, you become strongly attached to the villages you’ve worked so hard to build. So how does this all begin? Well, when you first start playing, you’re led through a quick tutorial that introduces you to most functions of the game. In addition, each gameplay screen has a link to the game’s very own wiki, detailing everything at length. So while it’ll appear complex at first, you have all the tools you need to start out. The graphics are nothing to call home about however, as Firefly Studios mostly re-uses the series’ old 2D graphics. Oh and not only for the music – the soundtrack is re-used as well, along with the series’ old antagonists. While we love the first two games of the series, this seems more like a very lazy design choice than a loving return to the first games. The interfaces are a bit rough around the edges, and the map itself is nothing crazy. Overall, aside from the artwork on the trading cards (more on this down further) this is not a very good looking game. Thankfully, there’s much more to it than that.
Rats, Plagues & Bandits
If you can get past the rough first meeting, there’s a tons of fun to be found here. For a start, building up your village is the very core of the game, and they orient both your income and progression. You need to build up farms, town buildings, churches, and eventually defenses in the form of castles. Each building takes an increasing amount of time to build, and their placement in the village is crucial. While you can choose the terrain you’ll build your village in (lowlands, plains, hills, etc.), most villages sort of looks the same in the long term when you learn to optimize your construction. You level through ranks (villain, freeman, commoner, thane, etc.) using honor produced by your villages, which in turn awards you research points. You progress through researching your way through the research tree, which provide a variety of unlocks and benefits. Combined together, the progression system becomes incredibly addictive. Your villages can host armies and agents, with the former consisting of a variety of units ranging from peasant to swordsmen, and the latter consisting of scouts, merchants, monks and captains, each serving a specific purpose. As a whole, this means that there are various play styles, with some clearly more aggressive than others, but also potentially more rewarding. Still, Stronghold Kingdoms will mostly always encourage the long game rather than short term benefit.
Kings & Houses
Your villages are not isolated, however. They’re inside area divisions called parishes, which can consist of anywhere between 4 and 10+ villages, which in turn are within counties, which are within provinces, and all of them within a country. In each of these can be found a special form of village called a capital, which produce buildings using taxes levied from the lower levels. These buildings in turn benefit the villages within their ranges. Also, each village can have a liege lord of its own, awarding both players some bonus honor, and mutual cooperation. If it seems complex at first, it’s because it is. And this is a good thing, because it gives Stronghold Kingdoms a political life, where diplomacy, community and interaction matters. Added to this are factions, which are like guilds, and Houses, which are essentially huge gatherings of guilds. Factions and houses can control huge geographical areas, and sometimes even countries, putting a King of their own on the throne. Oh, did I mention that your villages can also be razed, captured and pillaged? That’s right, other players can utterly crush you, and vice versa. In Stronghold Kingdoms, who you connect with is everything, and lone wolves tend not to last very long.
Gold & Faith
Thus, the politics is not for everyone, and considering how long it takes to build up your villages, it can be extremely scary to go to war. There are however a few other goodies to help you. For one, a trading card system that gives you a variety of advantages, which can either be purchased with real money, or awarded at regular intervals depending on your in-game rank. There are also premium tokens, which arguably give you essential functions, like queuing buildings and research. The downside to this is that it’s very much a situation where paying customers benefit from immense advantages. In closing, there are also some very neat side features, like the ability to customize both your lord, and your heraldry in detail. There are vast numbers of option to make your icon absolutely unique, and you’re unlikely to stumble onto the same design twice, even if you’re on one of the more populous servers. Also, depending on your server, the world you occupy will have different in-game areas. French language servers, for an example, are set in medieval France. This is the case for English, German, Polish, and even Russian. The downside is that if you just want to play in a different geographical area, well, you’ll most likely not share the language of your peers.
Final Verdict: Good
While Stronghold Kingdoms is a long-term experience, it requires very little daily involvement, making it a perfect game on the side. In addition, the progression is incredibly rewarding, and the action sudden but challenging. Politics being such a crucial aspect might not be to everyone’s taste, but it makes the entire experience very community-oriented, and encourages players to get involved. This is one of those games where players make the story from beginning to end. In retrospective, it sort of feels like a very extensive, very involved, long term board game, and the few flaws are strongly compensated for by the otherwise flavorful experience. It’s a bit niche, but here strategists will thrive.
Stronghold Kingdoms Videos
Stronghold Kingdoms MMO Trailer
Stronghold Kingdoms Links
Stronghold Kingdoms System Requirements
Coming Soon. . .
Stronghold Kingdoms Articles
- Stronghold Kingdoms June Update Adds Player Quests - Posted on June 5, 2014
Stronghold Kingdoms, one of the top ten most popular free-to-play games on Steam, has just been updated with new gameplay content in the form of player Quests.
- Stronghold Kingdoms Hits 3,000,000 Players - Posted on March 18, 2014
Firefly Studios boasts of Stronghold Kingdom's incredible success as a free to play MMORTS.
- Stronghold Kingdoms – Fourth Age Update Introduces Gunpowder - Posted on March 6, 2014
Firefly Studios has just released a new ‘Fourth Age’ gameplay update for Stronghold Kingdoms, introducing gunpowder and a new defensive weapon in the form of the mighty Bombard.
- Infographic: The Battle for Europe has Begun in Stronghold Kingdoms - Posted on February 19, 2014
Firefly Studios has released a new infographic containing gameplay stats on the first few days of play in ‘Europe’, the recently released game world for Stronghold Kingdoms
- ‘European Warfare’ Update Coming Soon to Stronghold Kingdoms - Posted on January 30, 2014
Firefly Studios announces an expansion to Stronghold Kingdom's world map, making Europe available starting in February.