What Do We Love About… Stronghold Kingdoms?
We’re checking out Stronghold Kingdoms in our latest “What Do We Love About…?” article, the browser based free to play real time strategy where players start out as lowly peons building up their humble medieval town to rise up as a ruler and conquer and control neighbouring provinces. The game follows the standard rote of building up resources, constructing buildings, learning new technologies and training up an army to defend your lands or take new ones. The game pace is considerably slower than a lot of other RTS games, a LOT slower, but there’s a few things about Stronghold Kingdoms that we love enough to put this high up on our favourite free to play RTS MMOs.
- The World Map - The maps of the world are extremely detailed. There are different maps available in the game of various countries and locations, based off the language that players choose to view the game in. As an English speaker, for example, you get a choice of the Europe map, The United States of America, and the United Kingdom and Ireland; the last map being the smallest, and being our home country, is the most detailed instead of being broken down into just cities or states there is a wide selection of smaller towns, familiar places in the UK. This element of familiarity adds an extra level of fun, want to try and take control of your home town, city or state then go for it, or if as a player from Pittsburgh and a Ravens fan you want to show Baltimore (and their Steelers lovers) what for then it gives players another goal to pursue!
- The Tech Tree
There is so much customization and diversity available to each player. The tech tree is probably one of the best tech trees we’ve seen in any game for the sheer amount of options open to every playable depending on whether they want to focus on commerce, military, production or anything else available. The research trees have an interesting layout with pre-requisite primary technologies that, once unlocked by spending research points, open up secondary associated technologies. The more points a player might put into a primary tree such as Engineering then they unlock new technologies such as one research point unlocking “Stockpile Capacity” technology, two points in Engineering unlocking “Granary Capacity” and so on, so players can choose to spread the research points wide unlocking lots of technologies, or perhaps focusing and instead of spending the second point in Engineering to open up “Granary Capacity” the player can choose to put that point into their original “Stockpile Capacity” and improve that secondary tech even further. The same goes for units, players could choose to unlock various military units, or focus on making one particular unit extremely powerful.
- Vassals and Liege Lords - Having a leader to watch over you adds a fun diplomatic element. As with a lot of cooperative or strategy focused games it always helps to have someone in charge, someone who can rally together players and provide an element of organization, protection and experience in turn for loyalty. The Vassals system works the same way in that players can choose to vassal their controlled villages to other players, allowing the Liege Lord to station their troops there, which they can use to defend against attacking enemies, or have a large portion of their armies closer to enemy objectives. The Liege Lord/Vassal relationship benefits new players and they can make real deals with other players, agreeing for an exchange of resources and support to declare their fealty; it’s a real social feature to the game that adds a sense of realism to the diplomacy aspect.
- Factions and Houses - The essence of being part of something bigger. In game players can create their own Factions, essentially the same as guilds or clans in other MMOs, however to keep with the realistic gameplay the factions’ leader, the General, can still be voted out of their position by other Officer voting member. As a General a single player gets to choose their relationships with other factions, setting them as allies or enemies, as well as joining a House, which in other MMOs are more similar to factions, but are completely player run. From the initial six members that align themselves to a certain House players must from then on apply to join the House and the Faction Generals must vote to allow them to join, from here House battles can (and will) happen, bringing every faction into the battle. We love that starting out as a single player you can be brought into an entire diplomatic minefield that can bring you, your allies and everyone around you to a full blown war if negotiations fall down or the House leaders start to get a little warmongery!
- Something for Everyone - It isn’t all about fighting. Tying in with the previous points the inclusion of Liege Lords and their subsequent armies, the ability to join Factions and Houses and be part of something bigger, it all ultimately means that you don’t actually have to train up troops or fight at all. Players can concentrate on being farmers and providing resources to their faction, or a merchant, or even start up your own spy network and raise rebellions in rival territories. For a generally combat focused game it’s great that there are elements for everyone to enjoy and not simply trying to build up the biggest army.
- The Pace of the Game - The game is slow and strategic, requiring planning and patience. Stronghold Kingdoms is most definitely not for everyone, it take days to construct buildings, assemble troops, get them to journey across the map; for many the pace is just way too slow from the initial first impressions. For those that give the game a chance, stick with it, and end up with enough territory, specialist units and allies then the game opens up hugely; it becomes an empire management game where you will pick away at it a few times a day as opposed to have hours long sessions. For those that lack the patience to stick with it then it definitely makes for an enjoyable game to play on the side.
These are some of the things that we love about Stronghold Kingdoms, but what do you think? What do you love about this game? Would you add anything else to the list? We await your opinions! Let us know!!!!!
If you want to know more about this title, check out our review and visit our profile by clicking the "Info" button below.