Hands-on Preview – Stronghold: Warlords

I’ve already talked a bit about my experience with Stronghold: Warlords in the past, as I was able to take a look at an early version of the game at E3 2019. To sum things up, I was impressed with the revamped color pallette, given how the game was set in Asia for the first time, the improved visuals and the brand new diplomacy system, which allowed me to either to negotiate or coerce nearby warlords to help me out against rival factions by sending me resources or additional troops. It was a quick preview but it was enough to make me look forward to the final release of the game.

We still don’t know when Stronghold: Warlords will come out, but Firefly Studios was kind enough to send a small preview build of the game for me to tackle. It’s a stupidly small build comprised of only one mission, but it was still an enjoyable reminder as to why I should still be looking forward to the final release later on this year.

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The three walls I was supposed to tear down. Easier said than done.

The mission is very straightforward. On one side of the (pretty small) map, you have your warlord and your army. Your mission is to find a way to breach the enemy warlord’s defenses, comprised of three walled sections, and then proceed to kill him in order to win the match. So far, so good. It’s not a mission in which you have to worry a lot about constructing a lot of buildings and fortifications. You already start off with some buildings, a few soldiers and a farm that will steadily provide you with resources for you to do whatever you want with it.

The developers were smart enough to provide you with a pathetic army at first, ensuring that you won’t want to go full Leroy Jenkins towards the enemy’s barricade. That was when the diplomacy system kicked in. There were two nearby warlods I could ally myself with: one focused on providing resources, and another one focused in sending out troops to regularly cripple the enemy warlord’s defense. I chose the latter. I had enough diplomacy points to convince him to join me at once, and had to wait for a bit to get a few more points to ask him to send a squad of soldiers and rocket launchers towards the enemy stronghold. Doing this a few times, coupled with my steady supply of rice and resources generating more soldiers of my own, resulted in a quick win a few minutes later.

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The diplomacy menu is incredibly intuitive. With a few clicks, you can befriend a warlord and make him attack your rival.

I am well aware that the demo didn’t scratch the surface of what the final version of Stronghold: Warlords will offer, and I couldn’t even play with the kamikaze oxen in here, but it did showcase once again that this game’s main selling points are still its beautiful visuals, smart UI and interesting diplomacy system. I really want to eventually tackle a bigger mission featuring a larger map and more threats attacking me at once, just so I can start tinkering with the game’s stronghold building mechanics once again. This small demo of Stronghold: Warlords didn’t change my opinions towards it: I’m still slightly optimistic towards the final release and am looking forward to it whenever it comes out later on this year.