I’ve made no secret of my enduring love for the Stronghold series and the team at Firefly who produce them. Luckily for me, they made an appearance at EGX, bringing with them Stronghold: Definitive Edition. Two remade original levels, one brand new mission from the extra campaign and two Siege scenarios were shown off. What did I make of it? I’m sure you can guess.
I explored some of my initial impressions from the demo that released in August, which you can read more about here. For the purposes of this piece, I’ll be discussing the mission from the new campaign. Before we get into that however, the remastered graphics look excellent, maintaining the charm of the original’s look and animation quirks, while being completely overhauled to a more modern standard.
Onto the new stuff. I spent about 15 minutes attempting the new level, which felt familiar as a long-standing fan. You have X amount of time until mission failure, in that time, you need to gather Y number of different supplies. So far, so Stronghold. The map felt exactly like you might expect – small to medium sized and populated with different resources you need to gather.
What stood out was the significant ramp up in difficulty. Speaking to the head of marketing Nick, he explained that this new campaign is designed for veterans of the original. You need to play through the basic campaigns first before attempting this. Of course, me being a total fool, I jumped right into it and stuck it on hard. I love a challenge… I thought.
From the off, you’re accosted by bandit raids. Your castle will randomly be set on fire (destroying an entire run if you’re not prepared). I was constantly trying to balance feeding my population, getting tax money to cover new troops and building defences, all the while trying to actually store up resources to win. It was great – quintessential Stronghold but ratcheted up a few notches to make it compelling.
The short experience I had with it told me everything I needed – this new campaign will slot in seamlessly to the precursor content. Nick joked about some changes like The Rat being buffed (he can use armoured units at last!) and most importantly, the look, feel and atmosphere of the game are retained beautifully. The graphical and audio overhauls are great, while the gameplay has been left mostly untouched, though it runs buttery smooth.
Of course, the real question is when is Stronghold: Crusader getting its own Definitive Edition? Naturally, they couldn’t provide any answer to that (rather, they chuckled at how much that’s been asked). For now, we’ll happily settle with having Stronghold returning in all its revamped glory. The castles have had a spruce up and lick of paint, time to set them on fire and tear them down.
Stronghold: Definitive Edition is launching on November 7th for PC via Steam.
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