Stronghold: Warlords preview - Everything you need to know
Trailers, details and more on the new real-time strategy
The Stronghold series has thrown some action-packed and highly-rated games at us over the years, so the pressure’s on for the studio to continue this momentum when Warlords launches on March 9th.
With a new game comes new features, and both returning and new players will get to enjoy the thrill of harnessing new powerful weapons on the battlefield.
A new location
As we mentioned before, Stronghold: Warlords will be taking players to a different corner of the world to spill blood and reign supreme… hopefully!
In Warlords, you’ll be heading to East Asia, 3rd century BC China to be exact, where you’ll attempt to claim a castle or two in your name, and relive famous historical battles and sieges from across the Asian continent.
You’ll take command of Mongol hordes, imperial warriors and samurai clansmen as you lay siege to Japanese castles and fortified Chinese cities.
Taking place over four nations, you will be battling the Chinese, the Japanese, the Mongols, and the Vietnamese. Amongst other foreign invaders.
War of the lords
Stronghold: Warlords will be the first in Firefly’s long-serving series to offer players the opportunity to recruit, upgrade and command AI lords across the battlefield in the form of in-game ‘Warlords’.
Each one under your command will help boost your strategic prowess with unique perks, characteristics, and upgradeable abilities.
With each battle, you’ll have a fresh set of warlords to command, and new strategic depth to discover - this will certainly perk up gamers’ ears who enjoy replayability.
You can put your Warlords to work on everything from fortifying borders and forging weapons to teaming up for a pincer attack in battle - they can even fetch you a tall cappuccino… actually that’s a lie, they can’t do the last one!
Each AI Warlord has its own unique traits, so depending on which ‘lords you have among your ranks will alter your gameplay experience economically and diplomatically.
With the Warlords able to be upgraded by spending Diplomacy points to give you even bigger advantages on the battlefield.
If you’re a die-hard Stronghold fan and you don’t recognize this, then you will be right. Diplomacy is a new feature that you get through government buildings.
Bringing the firepower
Moving the series forward from ye olde medieval times means that new technologies and wonders have been discovered - no smartphones just yet,
but we do have a tasty new projectile weapon at our disposal in Stronghold: Warlords.
You can now besiege historical warlords with the use of new gunpowder-fuelled siege weapons alongside your classic units and battleplan.
Some of the new siege weapons you’ll get your hands on including thunder crash bombs, the fearsome mortar, and the hwacha fire arrow cart.
With all these new siege weapons arriving, we don’t want to miss out on telling you about another, shall we say, unique projectile that’s making a return… diseased animal ammunition.
Yes, you heard correctly, you’ll be able to through the remains of Water Buffalo over the castle walls at your unsuspecting enemies - as voted by the Stronghold Discord channel.
Water Buffalo made the cut, over other suggestions such as ‘Large Bactrian Camel’ and ‘A Horse With a Sore Throat’... There’s NAAAY way that would have made it over the wall!
Whatever flaming or rotting ammunition that you throw at your foes, you’re sure to have a blast with 10 siege weapons available at launch.
We mentioned classic units, but did you know that you’ll also have new units to command this time around - including imperial fire lancers, disciplined samurai, Mongolian bowmen, and auxiliary laddermen.
Oh and Ninjas. That’s right! You can command an army of Ninjas! Now that’s a good reason to buy the game on its own.
New sim features
Back in December 2019, Firefly Studios announced that six new castle sim features will be included in Stronghold: Warlords.
Simulating the bustle of a large feudal city is no easy task, so the developer has gone above and beyond to ensure that there are lots going on within the four walls of your virtual home-from-home.
You’ll be able to boost troop morale with opera houses and martial arts performances, strike fear in the hearts of measly peasants, and boost productivity with torture devices!
You can also connect roads to streamline certain industries and resource chains, build temples and boost the Spirit of your populace, and get your warlords to boost your industry with their own mini-economies.
Peasants kicking off? Be sure to house them in luxury accommodation to keep them happy… maybe we shouldn’t have called them measly to their faces.
As well, you can make your peasants happy by giving them a variety of new food that is popular in the region.
Familiar features are back!
Just like in previous games, the popularity system returns to reward varied and extensive economists in Warlords.
Just like in Stronghold Crusader 2, this will impact peasant migration but also reward bonuses.
In the new game, food production is important with rice being the only essential food. Vegetables, meat, and tea are all luxury items with high popularity increasing food production. Another returning addition is the Fear Factor. We don’t mean the game show, instead, we mean the way of instilling fear through tough actions, as a means of making soldiers fight harder and workers produce more.
Estates are also back, though these aren’t to be confused with the new Warlords’ Estates. These deliver goods to your empire and give your subjects job roles that will allow them to contribute to the cause - such as becoming a Blacksmith or Armourer.
Last but not least, The Scribe is back to remark about events within the game. If you want to know what is happening then this is the person to go to!
As the series progresses, Firefly has been able to tweak the gameplay more and more - and in Stronghold: Warlords, that’s no exception.
The studio has stated that it will usher in major improvements and refinements on how computer-controlled opponents interact with you, as well as each other.
AI behaviors linked to castle management, skirmish combat, and city building have been completely revamped in the eighth installment of the Stronghold franchise, as well as adding the new Warlord System. Each enemy AI will have a distinct style of play over a set of predetermined behaviors.
The decisions made by computer opponents will now be made according to the map’s layout and estates scattered across the world - as well as the tactical positioning of warlords, available resources, current army composition, and their priorities at different stages of gameplay.
It’s fair to say that Firefly has put a lot of love into not only how this game looks, but also how it runs.
Lots of game modes
You will be besieging Japanese castles and fortified Chinese cities with gunpowder and much more. But the explosive action isn’t limited to one game mode.
In the campaign mode, you will play through 31 missions that will span the whole of East Asia. If that doesn’t create a burning light in your heart like the fires you are bound to create in the game, then there’s no need to worry. You will be able to play short, pre-set scenarios in Skirmish games, or create your own in the free build mode.
Are you more sociable than the single-player mode allows you to be? Why not kick back and beat your friends with no second thought in the multiplayer game mode! Defeat your friends and foes with barrels full of gunpowder.
Multiplayer has a unique Warlords feature too, where small AI-controlled castles can be captured in order to ally with Warlords for them to join your army and be upgraded to your heart’s content. Or if you’re done fighting, team up with a friend in a co-op mode that will allow you to work together.
As the game’s marketing director, Nick Tannahill, explains “one player could handle the economy from the start while the other builds up an army. Then later during a siege that player could control defensive units like Fire Lancers and Archers, while the other triggers castle traps and puts out fires”. Now that sounds interesting!