Stronghold Legends First Look - Fantasy Meets Castle-Building

Stronghold Legends takes the castle-centric strategy series and plunges it into myth and legend, so you can battle as King Arthur or Dracula.

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After having played with European history in its first three games, the Stronghold series is turning an eye toward myth and legend with Stronghold Legends, the latest strategy game from Firefly Studios and publisher 2K Games. Stronghold Legends takes some of the familiar castle-building and medieval-warfare gameplay of the series and transplants it into three fantasy settings. So now in addition to worrying about knights and catapults, you'll also have to worry about dragons, werewolves, and other creatures.

Swords meet sorcery and stranger things in this Stronghold sequel.
Swords meet sorcery and stranger things in this Stronghold sequel.

Stronghold Legends will have three campaigns, each based on a popular legend. There's King Arthur, of course, which is a natural fit for the series; a Rhine campaign, which is basically based on The Ring of the Nibelung; and a Transylvania campaign, which features everyone's favorite impaler, Vlad Tepes, better known as Dracula. The Arthurian campaign will tie together all the familiar lore, from the Round Table to Merlin, while the Rhine campaign will feature valkyries and other appropriate creatures. Meanwhile, Dracula's campaign will deal with Vlad's historical battles with the Turks before it merges with the vampire myth.

With three distinct campaigns, there will be a lot of content in Stronghold Legends. There are twice as many units compared to Stronghold 2 (and four times compared to the original Stronghold), as well as three different castle styles and landscapes. There will also be a new gameplay mode, which is described as Risk-meets-Stronghold. In other words, you'll be able to see a map of territories, and you'll battle for control of each territory. This will allow for some strategic decision-making on your part. For example, you may realize that you're going to lose a territory, but you still want to bleed your enemy as much as possible so as to improve your odds in a following battle.

Combat will be a mix of conventional units, such as knights, archers, and spearmen, and fantastical creatures. We've already mentioned dragons (the super units of the game), but there will also be werewolf catapults, frost giants, and hero units, such as individual knights of the Round Table, each with a special power. Some of these fantasy units are designed to counter some of the established Stronghold strategies. The creeper unit, for instance, can not only scale walls, but also infect other units with its vampirism, and it's immune to arrows, which nullifies the longtime archer advantage in the game. Meanwhile, some of the bigger units will require you to throw your units into the fray. Dragons will require a group effort to take down, and the only way to do so is to attack from different sides at once. That's because the dragon has a nasty habit of knocking attackers back with a flick of its tail, not to mention that fire breathing.

Here be dragons.
Here be dragons.

Multiplayer will be improved, with the addition of new modes, such as king of the hill (literally build a castle on a hill and defend it for as long as you can), capture the flag, and an economic-war mode that tasks you with certain goals, such as being the first to gather X number of wood planks. This will mean that you will have to balance offense with defense, as you may realize that the only way to stop your enemy from reaching the goal first is to attack and knock him off balance.

We're told that Stronghold Legends will be a bit more of a real-time strategy game and a little less of a comprehensive castle simulation like its predecessors. The designers have learned their lesson about creating incredibly complex economies that could break down easily. Speaking of which, Firefly says it learned a lesson about shipping Stronghold 2 in such a broken state, something that the producer admits. The good news is that Firefly says it will spend months testing and polishing the game this time around. Stronghold Legends is due out later this year.

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