May 28, 2024
Stronghold: Definitive Edition's second DLC pack - Valley of the Wolf - arrives with fun missions and even more free content. The Finger Guns review:

Thus far, it would be fair to say Firefly Studios have earned the townsfolks exclamations of “the people worship you sire!”. Both Stronghold: Definitive Edition and its first DLC pack, Swine’s Bay, have delivered improvements and worthwhile additions to a classic strategy title. Six months on from the initial release, we now have our second DLC rations, with Valley of the Wolf.

Rounding off the Jewel campaign, a completely new set of content for Definitive Edition, it’s time to finally put an end to the snarling Wolf and recover Sir Longarm’s kin. Seven new missions are added, alongside the free Spring Update. Is it worth setting out on the trail once more and clipping this Wolf’s claws? Let’s find out.

Fear No Evil

Valley of the Wolf continues the approach Firefly has taken towards the Jewel campaign. There’s a mix of three castle building levels and four siege/reach the flag missions. Almost all of them will test your knowledge of Stronghold: Definitive Edition’s units and systems. Whether holding out against the Wolf’s massive armies or evading patrols to escape a large map, you’ll need your experience.

Castle defence missions are probably some of the longest seen in the original Stronghold. I found myself digging in and erecting layers upon layers of stone walls to claw my way to the end. Moreover, the developers have found space for some creative spice in a couple of missions. My personal standout was taking on three lords at once, each with their own small holding.

This level perfectly encapsulates what this new campaign has been for – veterans of the series cutting their teeth against increasingly challenging scenarios. I had to account for my own unit’s weaknesses, probe for openings and strategise how best to utilise reinforcements. Almost all seven of the new missions provide a great sense of tactical dilemma to overcome and don’t even get me started on the harder difficulties.

I found the very last mission to be slightly anti-climactic, as it actually felt easier than a couple of others on the Valley of the Wolf campaign. Even so, overall I came away feeling once again pleasantly surprised by how much Firefly have squeezed out of vanilla Stronghold’s gameplay formula. It’s always a good time sticking it to the Wolf too, the miserable git.

Valley of the Wolf review

No Taxes Sire?!

While Valley of the Wolf in itself is a great addition, worthy of the price of admission, the free spring update also launches alongside the DLC. The new “Noble Trail” brings ten new castle assaults and defences from historic castles across Europe. Siege mode is expanded with new strongholds painstakingly recreated, just for you to set fire to or poorly defend. Finally, new maps and various bug fixes have been implemented.

It’s quite wonderful how well-priced both Stronghold: Definitive Edition and its DLC packs have been. The fact that expansive content has been included at no extra price makes this feel like a real love letter to fans. Some of the new sieges are genuinely hard. The second level of the Noble Trail had me restarting so many times I managed to memorise where the option was on the pause menu.

Given this is an over 20-year-old title (vanilla version anyway) and we’ve had decades to learn it, that’s kind of exactly what we’d want. The maps and recreations of historically important fortresses is awesome, and who doesn’t want to see Monteriggioni in basically any form? Any opportunity for nostalgic reminiscing of Assassin’s Creed 2 is welcome, in my book.

In any case, whether you jump back in just for the free update or to embark on the final episode of the Jewel campaign, you’ll be well rewarded. Stronghold: Definitive Edition has earned the moniker of Definitive. This is a package now overflowing with content for upwards of dozens of hours. All of which comes below £20 in total. Madness, really.

Valley of the Wolf review

Our Granary Is Full, Sire!

Running the strategy gauntlet in Stronghold: Definitive Edition, Swine’s Bay and now Valley of the Wolf has been more welcome than the arrival of 50 swordsman reinforcements in a disparate defence. The new content packs have added more depth for those who have been firing from the ramparts for years, while for newcomers, they offer the chance to test your mettle and become a true lord of your stronghold.

I’m sure there will be some who are disappointed there aren’t new units, new bosses or anything substantially “new” in that sense. However, Firefly Studios was committed to retaining the original’s aura, authenticity and core mechanics. They’ve done that here with aplomb. A couple of the Valley of the Wolf missions falter slightly where the majority excel, but the free Spring Update is a lovely gift to returning players.

If this is the last content update for Stronghold: Definitive Edition before the developers move on to their other projects, they can leave safe in the knowledge they’ve achieved their goal. The real Jewel in the crown is Stronghold: Definitive Edition itself.

Launching with seven new missions costing a measly £2.49, Valley of the Wolf follows in the footsteps of Swine’s Bay brilliantly. With new tactical challenges for veterans to master and brutal scenarios for newcomers to cut their teeth with, Firefly Studios’ final chapter in the Jewel campaign is excellent. Stronghold: Definitive Edition continues to live up to its title.

Stronghold: Definitive Edition – Valley of the Wolf 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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