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Stronghold Warlords (SHW) is an upcoming installment of the Stronghold main series, dated to be released in 2020. It is the fourth member of the mainline Stronghold Series.
Setting and gameplayEdit
Stronghold Warlords is set to play in the vast territory of Eastern Asia, featuring four nations (but not limited to): the Chinese, the Japanese, the Mongols and the Vietnamese.
Emphasis continues to be on the sim aspect of Stronghold, managing castles and building armies, while keeping an eye on the economy and the everyday lives of the townsfolk. Various fortifications and industrial buildings can be built, as well as units can be recruited in wide varieties. Players can engage into a new aspect of battle, Diplomacy.
Graphics are redesigned and the user interface has been polished. Resources and the popularity panel are now permanently shown, selected units get a dedicated screen showing attack and defense values.
The Warlords systemEdit
Warlords are the successors of the estate system from previous games.
The world map is divided into estates, each of them now represented by a Warlord. All of them have their own benefits and traits, making them economically and diplomatically different (for example, the Horse is more economy-based, while the Pig is more military-focused). Warlords provide benefits for their owners and their capabilities can be furthered by spending Diplomacy points for one-time actions. Diplomacy points can be earned through government buildings, like embassies.
Reworked popularity system Edit
The popularity system rewards an extensive and varied economy, just like in previous games.
Popularity in Warlords works just like in Stronghold Crusader 2, affecting peasant migration instantly, based on the sign of the popularity balance. The bonuses are largely centered around food production however, with rice being the only essential food. Vegetables, meat and tea are luxury food that contribute each to the popularity balance. Clothes take over the role of ale as a luxury resource, while taxes retain their role like normal.
- The Scribe returns to give remarks once again about events and happenings.
- Strong walls: a multiplayer option, which makes walls impervious to infantry attacks
- Estates (separate from Warlords' estates)
- Fear Factor
- Two classic units: the siege tower and the ladderman
- Single-player campaigns and multiplayer skirmish
- Gunpowder-type tower engines, units and traps
- New raw materials: saltpeter, gunpowder, silk, tea leaves
- New food types: tea, rice, vegetables, meat
- New weapons: axe, lance, heavy mace
- Housing quality (affects popularity)
- Turret-type towers
- Units from various Asian cultures: Vietnam, Mongolia, China, Japan
- Paved roads (increases worker efficiency)
Stronghold Warlords has been worked on since 2015, after the release of Stronghold Crusader 2. Initially, Firefly Studios had been hinting that a new Stronghold game is in development, however did not proceed on revealing information until much later.
In 2018, Firefly revealed that this particular game had still been being worked on, under the codename 'Stronghold Next', which spawned a series of insider and Q&A videos on YouTube, granting insights into the development process and the studio. Most importantly, these media also sparked a connection with the fanbase. Since then, the studio has been uploading videos addressing nostalgic moments, featuring community maps/mods and interviews with various staff members.
In June 2019, the next game has been revealed as 'Stronghold Warlords', which was shown a first footage from pre-alpha stage and an official intro as well, to the audience of E3 2019. Both videos highlighted the new addendum, the Warlords system that defines this particular sequel, along with the new Eastern Asian setting.
By September 2019, Stronghold Warlords entered alpha stage. Graphics have improved, while gameplay has smoothened. Various gameplay aspects were shown in great detail on the demo map.
At PAX East 2019, Firefly set up gaming booths with an alpha demo of Stronghold Warlords, where participants could play a 15 minutes long survival mode-style mission.
The game was featured at the next PAX expo in Spring 2020, presenting a siege scenario involving more negotiation options with warlords and showcasing more troops. This version has been shared with the community, enabling access to the game for a limited time. The demo is currently accessible to those that participate in the Discord MetaGame and spend 500 gold in the shop to buy a Steam key.
Connection with the community Edit
Firefly Studios operates their own Discord server, where it is possible to discuss various Stronghold-related topics, both of Warlords and existing games. The team also collects feedback, while also drip-feeds information about Warlords once in a while (usually not long before an official video is published). Every member can choose to join one of three empires in order to access the channels: The Mongolian Horde, The Japanese Shogun or the Chinese Dynasty.
A series of community challenges called "MetaGame" is on-going on the server. Each group is facing a situation that must be resolved collectively by voting on several options (similar to a role-playing game). Group members have to make essential decisions, which affect both the status quo and the faction itself. Individual members can earn money from working, committing crime or robbing other users (crime and robbery may involve fines as well). Each option can be done once every 11 hours. The votes deadline usually after a few days.
The first round of MetaGame concluded in the end of March 2020 with the victory of the Horde. After the Horde was gifted the New PAX East 2020 version, they decided to have the runners-up handed the same version as well, instead of the Fall 2019 survival scenario version.
The second round of MetaGame introduced guilds, which produce goods and pay their members daily. Goods can be sold by guilds on the market for the faction leaders, which can be used to gain the upper hand in the faction's quests. As an added burden, factions are taxed daily.