Following on the heels of 2005's highly-praised ?Stronghold 2?
, Firefly Studios and 2K Games are preparing to storm the gates with a new installment of their medieval masterpiece... and this time they've brought dragons. Taking the refined gameplay of the Stronghold series and adding new layers of combat, mythology and storytelling, ?Stronghold Legends?
looks set to light a fire under the competition and treat strategy and fantasy fans alike to a rare and engaging gaming experience. We had a chance to find out more about this RTS straight from Firefly Studio's Simon Bradbury who seemed all too willing to talk. I'm beginning to seriously question our investment in that inquisitional chair.
Gaming Target: Thank you for taking time to answer our questions! Would you please start us off by introducing yourself and telling us about the team behind Stronghold Legends?
My name is Simon Bradbury and I am the designer of Stronghold Legends. Stronghold Legends is being made in our London studio which made Stronghold, Stronghold Crusader and Stronghold 2.
GT: While maintaining much of the ?spirit? found in previous Stronghold titles, Stronghold Legends is taking a number of new approaches in terms of gameplay. What inspired this re envisioning of the Stronghold series?
Stronghold and Stronghold 2 were designed to be primarily medieval simulators allowing you to run a medieval economy and take part in medieval warfare. Stronghold Legends, like Crusader before it, is biased a little more towards a more intense RTS approach. It still has at its core, castle building and resource collection, but these elements are pared down, more towards the original Stronghold levels. This allowed us to use our many legendary units to concentrate on having lots of new ways to get into castles and many new ways to defend them.
GT: Starting off with what has remained largely the same, what can you tell us about the castle building portion of Stronghold Legends?
The major difference fans will like is that instead of being able to build just one castle type you can now build three very distinctive castle types. Each set has a unique set of castle pieces, buildings and resources. Each castle style also has its own unique landscape, so playing evil for example, you will have a creepy looking castle on evil ground, with a an evil granary?!
As for resource management and the micromanagement of workers, what is being left untouched, being overhauled, or being removed altogether?
Although Stronghold Legends is still a castle builder, the sim side has been stripped down from Stronghold 2. We know that during the heat of battle the last thing you wanted to be worrying about was the rat problem in your castle or the amount of waste that's piling up! Based on a lot of user feedback from SH2 and to speed up the action we have also modified quite a few systems to make them more streamlined. The new woodcutter camp is a case in point. The main resource to remain from SH2 is honor, this is what you use to buy legendary units, although harvesting honor has been greatly streamlined in legends.
GT: Moving on to Legends' new features, would you please tell us about the three races and introduce us to their leaders?
There are 3 legends to play: King Arthur, Vlad the Impaler (based on the true legends of Dracula) and the Rhine legends of Germany. Because each race has their own buildings and units they all play quite differently from each other. True to the legend, Arthur can call upon Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table. The Rhine Legends are set against an icy landscape so they have ice giants, Norse Valkyrie and white witches. Vlad's delving into the dark arts means that he has the most devious set of units, including werewolves, fiery imps and vampiric creepers.
GT: Legends features a fascinating array of mythical beasts and we'd be remiss not to first ask about the most famous ? Dragons. What role will Dragons play in Stronghold Legends and what is being done to ensure that they remain a balanced unit?
Dragons are essentially the super weapon of the game. They are very powerful and can cause large amounts of damage as well as being able to fly over players castles. To keep them balanced in the game they are time limited in two ways. First, they must be hatched from an egg, which means there is a time delay between each summoning, which stops richer players from using them constantly. Secondly they have a limited lifespan, after which they will dispel, so once summoned they player has only limited time in which to cause maximum impact. Don't forget dragons are also vulnerable to many attacks, dragon harpoons, magicians, archers and other flying units.
GT: As for other mythical creatures, what will the player be controlling/combating and how much diversity will there be between the different races?
The Arthurian legends tell the story of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table so don't contain many mythical creatures. The Rhine legends contain stories about ice giants and dragons and we've added others such as armored bears, dwarves and wolf packs. As is often the case evil is probably the most interesting race to play with. Devious devices such as the werewolf catapult exist to hurl muscular half-men over castle walls and then there's the creepers... these guys are impervious to missile fire, scale walls and will turn weaker units (into the creepers side), there goes your ?tower full of archers' defense I'm afraid!
GT: As for human units, what is being done to ensure that they will still play an active role in combat when facing otherworldly beasts?
Classic medieval ?human' troops will still be the mainstay of your army as they will be much cheaper and easier to create. The legendary units require honor to summon and so most (although not all) will be used for special forays or in a supporting role rather than as a main attacking army. For example a player may freeze most of a castles defenders for a period using the Ice dragon, whist their attacking ?human' army gets a head start on scaling the walls.
GT: To tie everything together, can you please tell us about Stronghold's main campaign and various single-player modes?
There are 24 missions split into 3 campaigns each telling the story of Arthur, Vlad and the Rhine legends as closely as possible. Perhaps the most well known legend is King Arthur where we tell the story of the building of Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin, Lancelot & Guiniverre, Excalibur, the Sword in the stone, Mordred, the grail quest and more! Beyond that we have a range of skirmish options that the player can play through.
GT: Lastly, would you please give us a sense of the scope of multi-player options available to the player?
One of our main goals for Stronghold Legends is to make a great multiplayer game. As well as the standard death-match game we have added 3 new multiplayer game modes: ?King of the Hill' games involve a neutral castle in the middle of the map which each player must capture and hold for a specific period of time. In ?Capture the Flags' you have to capture a number of key strategic estates and perhaps most uniquely we have an ?Economic War' mode where the host can set an amazingly wide range of combinable economic objectives, which combined with the fact that you can also still (optionally) attack each other, makes for an incredibly intense multiplayer experience.
GT: Again, thank you for taking time from your schedule for this interview! Would you care to wrap things up with any final thoughts for our readers?
Our aim with Stronghold Legends is to create one of the classic RTS games that will appeal to Stronghold and die hard RTS fans alike. We have taken a lot of time to address any issues we had with Stronghold 2, listen to player feedback and create what will be the most polished game in the Stronghold series to date.
GamingTarget.com would like to extend our thanks to Simon Bradbury, 2K Games, and Firefly Studios for making this interview possible. Be sure to look Gaming Target for continued coverage of this exciting RTS. In the meantime, check out 2K Game's official Stronghold Legends web page.