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Stronghold: Warlords takes the castle-building series eastwards next year

Great Wall, I'll take it!

Yet another series announced to be returning at E3 is Firefly's Stronghold series. Stronghold: Warlords transplants the RTS game of European (and Arabic) castle building and siege-ing to the east, with Japan, Korea, China and other nations represented. Warlords is also expanding the game outwards, and adding a 'light' grand strategy layer, letting players boss around the titular warlords; AI controlled minor factions that can work for or against you. While not quite as sprawling as a Total War game or Sins Of A Solar Empire, it's an interesting way to expand the design. See how the warlords work in the trailer below.

The Stronghold series has had some ups and downs (the less said about Stronghold 3, the better), but started out on a very strong, compelling foundation. Building huge castles with traps and defences, and then fending off huge waves of attackers is always compelling stuff. The move to larger maps with AI factions is breaking new ground for the series, and a challenge that I hope FireFly can rise to. Other studios have tried to blend traditional RTS and grand strategy motifs, but few have pulled it off, with Ironclad's (still very actively modded) Sins Of A Solar Empire being the most notable.

It sounds like FireFly are fully committed to the eastern setting in their single player modes, with multiple campaigns with interestingly varied themes. One will tackle the rise of the Japanese Shogunate, another, war in 3rd century BC China and a third will chart the advance of the Mongol Empire. The cultures all have distinct looks already, with China getting its iconic high-walled cities, while Japan has a snazzy line in ornate, towering castles. I'm curious to see how all these takes on warfare will mesh under a single, unified control system. It's a bold comeback for the series, and possibly a risky one. Fingers crossed.

Stronghold: Warlords is due out sometime next year, and you can see a few more screenshots on its Steam store page or official site here.

See our E3 2019 tag for more news, previews, opinions, and increasingly surreal liveblogs.

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Dominic Tarason