April 13, 2024
Seven new missions to take down the putrid Captain Hogsfoot, is it worth taking up arms in Swine's Bay again? The Finger Guns review:

With over 250,000 copies sold since launch, Stronghold: Definitive Edition has had a remarkable reinvigoration. Released barely four months ago, Firefly Studios have already delivered the first round of extra content. Coupled with their free winter update which brings free economy missions, the Swine’s Bay DLC delivers seven new combat levels.

Like a catapult hoisting a marbled rock into an unsuspecting castle, Swine’s Bay delivers a hard-hitting opening salvo. Set up as a new campaign to sink your spears into, Swine’s Bay further fleshes out Firefly’s efforts to provide more difficult scenarios for seasoned players. All of this, without changing any of the core gameplay, to ensure the experience remains just as remembered. Quite the balance, indeed.

With our granaries already mostly overflowing with supplies, let’s explore how much more sustenance Stronghold: Definitive Edition’s first DLC pack provides.

Swine's Bay review

Piggie Falls

Swine’s Bay picks up in the Jewel of the North crusade. Two of these campaigns came packaged with the vanilla release of Stronghold: Definitive Edition. The developers have used these trails as a means of offering further content, challenge and tactical conundrums for veteran players. Swine’s Bay continues in this fashion, delivering an arduous set of missions to overcome.

By arduous, I mean in a constructively demanding way. The seven new levels are a mix of castle defence (with limited space and resources), reach the end goal (with a small force) and resource gathering. Each presents it’s own set of hurdles to overcome and emphasise some element of the game’s mechanics.

As an example, the use of pitch to thin out overwhelming waves of enemies is essential in a couple of scenarios. In the resource management level, preparing for all manner of unexpected curses is required. Firefly have also placed more focus on troop management in a handful of the newer campaign scenarios. Leading them through a large map with multiple routes and gangs of stronger troops to work around.

Consequently, the seven new levels feel like a natural extension to what’s already come with the Definitive Edition. Especially on higher difficulties, mastery of the systems is essential if you even want a hope of making it through. The Pig’s relatives are gluttonous in making your life a misery, as well as with their desire for chicken, it seems.

Swine's Bay review

Pitch In

Are there any drawbacks from simply adding more testing levels to overcome? To be completely honest, no, not really. Of the new contribution, I’d say the resource gathering mission can verge on being more tedious. The level timer has to be quite long due to constant problems that occur (wolves are the real plague of humanity), which drags the level out a bit too long.

It’s the dilemma that arises with needing to make economy-focused levels work with an increased attention to challenge. Still, it certainly caught me out when my entire settlement of dairy farms was eviscerated by a wildfire. I was even warned of it in advance and simply didn’t pay attention, so kudos to the developers for catching me out in my ignorance.

Swine’s Bay is essentially a map or level pack, albeit a very good one. As luck would have it, the price for the DLC generously reflects this. £2.49 for seven missions works out to about 35p per level. If that isn’t value in an age of heinously overpriced DLC and monetisation practices, I don’t know what is. Chances are, if you’re someone who’s picked up Stronghold: Definitive Edition, this’ll be a very worthwhile addition.

Swine's Bay review

Your Popularity, Is Rising!

Having spent a good handful of hours cleansing the realm of Captain Hogsfoot, I can safely say this is a welcome and pleasant addition to a reimagining I was already very impressed with. The low cost, coupled with the creative new scenarios and tough skill ceiling make it a more than worthy purchase. That’s not even counting how cheaply this is being sold.

As with the base game, some missions are more appealing than others. However, it’s important to recognise that none are bad or poor. The same baseline of love and care has been poured into Swine’s Bay that we’ve come to expect from Firefly Studios. Oh, and the remade visuals and audio are still glorious to behold. Raise your banners and bring about the end of Captain Hogsfoot, just watch out for fires and wolves.

Expanding Stronghold: Definitive Edition’s veteran Jewel of the North campaign, Swine’s Bay delivers more intricately designed scenarios to overcome. Stronghold is still at its strongest when castle defence is the focus, with resource levels remaining slightly duller. For the measly price of £2.49 however, Swine’s Bay adds to this castle’s popularity fairly unanimously.

Stronghold: Definitive Edition – Swine’s Bay DLC is available today on PC (review platform).

Developer: Firefly Studios
Publisher: Firefly Studios

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.

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