Stronghold Kingdoms MMO Game Review, Plus Beginning Walkthrough & Tutorial
I’m an avid gamer girl who was looking for a Free-to-Play, massively multi-player online (MMO) game a while back; and Stronghold Kingdoms was one that I tried out – and it is the one that I ended up sticking with for a while.
Although, in an update: It took about a year for me to burn out on this game; and yeah - I regret every dime I put into it, now in hindsight. The people who play the game really do make or break it - and they can be ruthless or generous, in the extreme, at will. And, after a while, game politics can really weigh you down if you've got your own real life office politics situations happening, ha!
Also, the SHK MMO is never updated aside from must-do maintenance and repairs, and no new features are ever added. However, they do continue to put out different 'types' of worlds that are meant to continue drawing gamers in - but they aren't much different, at all (with the exception of the beta Rise of the Wolf, PvE world - which is nothing but a frustrating, expensive mess).
For instance, while the new Island World does make speed adjustments when attacking or trading according to the 'changing weather at sea' - there are only a couple new graphics along with that adjustment; and the game plays no differently other than that - lame.
There is never anything done to actually improve on the game; and there is very little communication about the game from the developers. They seem very content to not listen to complaints while continuing to take people's money. It's maddening.
Take that with a grain of salt; and keep reading if you're still curious... This was my review at about four months in:
It is really hard to find a good MMO these days because so many of them are the same handful of formerly-popular game titles that have been rehashed over and over again; or they are ‘Early Access’ games that they want a small fortune for - and who knows if the game will ever be finished? Why should a game developer complete a game anymore when they don’t have to?
Stronghold Kingdoms is a castle building game set in medieval history. It is a real-time strategy game – meaning, it continues to play whether you are online or not. And, things start out fast; but get slower and more difficult with each progressive skill point that you achieve.
For instance, buildings start out being built within seconds; but each building costs a little more in resources and takes a little more time to build. It does not take long for buildings to take hours if you’re not aware of what skills are required to reduce build time and costs, etc.
However, since the game plays this way; you often have plenty of time to walk away and carry on with your real life without having to worry too much about it. It is a game with moments of exciting, interactive social play; along with lulls where you find yourself casually hanging out by yourself while you build up your character, villages and castles.
Another perk in Stronghold Kingdoms is that you can set the game on vacation mode for up to two weeks so that your villages don’t run down while you’re not around to tend to them.
I like that Stronghold Kingdoms doesn’t require much time away from real life. Many people simply log in once or twice a day for a few minutes; then stay in the game a little longer when they have time if something is going on – or sometimes we just end up chatting with each other. It is also a great game to have multitasking on the side of whatever else you might be doing – not that I do much of that. ;)
Beginning Learning Curve
One of the things I kept hearing from people trying to learn the game (like I was) is that there isn’t enough detailed information for beginners. Or maybe it has more to do with information overload. I mean, since you don’t really know ‘what you need to know’, yet – nothing seems to ‘stick’ in your head from the Stronghold Kingdoms Wiki until you cross it in the game. And by that time, you often wish that you had known that piece of info earlier.
I also think it helps to know just about everything about the game (all at once) while you are making decisions surrounding it – almost impossible to do for someone just learning how to play. This is why this review will continue on to a beginner’s walkthrough at the end.
Stronghold Kingdoms has a Glaring Flaw & Apathetic Creators
However, there is one downside to Stronghold Kingdoms and you hear it again and again in gamer reviews – it is a Free to Play / Pay to Win game. In this case, what that means is… players CAN play this game with very little or no money (I do); but other players on power trips with apparently nothing better to do with hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars can really put a kink in your game experience.
And Firefly, the game creator, is very apathetic to the cries of their patrons over this issue. It seems that as long as piles of money are coming in, they care not. What a shocker. Even if you are a diehard gamer, do not expect to get very far very fast unless you plan to become a heavy ‘carder’ and/or find a friend or a faction that is filled with them.
In that regard, there are almost two levels of gameplay within Stronghold Kingdoms – casual and hardcore gaming - and they can crossover at times, keeping things interesting within the various worlds. Each one has many different stories that has influenced their Glory Races and evolutions as they ‘Age’ up.
I only ‘recommend’ this game as opposed to highly recommending it – because of the Pay to Win aspect. While it can certainly be played as a Free(ish) to Play online game - brace yourself for big money carder bullies; and be prepared to deal with them and/or live by their virtual rules.
Most of the time you can get by without having to interact with them, much. They are easy to pick out and usually easy to leave alone – unless you are starting up in a new world; they decide to take an interest in your property for whatever reason; or you make them angry.
Note: don’t call anyone any kind of name in this game – mild, in anger, in jest or otherwise: like ‘big baby’ or worse – apparently name-calling is a HUGE power-trip stimulator for over-inflated, gamer egos. They don’t have to be ‘carders’. And no, things don't necessarily go the other way around. If they have nothing to fear - expect them to be rude jerks and fling things like the seriously-offensive 'C-word' at you, at will.
However, it is only fair to add that heavy carders can also turn out to be a really good ally; and sometimes even a gem of a friend. ;)
So Why Give Stronghold Kingdoms a Chance?
No one paid me to write this review, really!! As long as you go into the game with the knowledge above; and you can accept the potential consequences that ‘may’ happen as a result (you’ll make friends who can possibly help and/or intervene if/when unpleasant situations come up)… If you just want to be a farmer or a merchant, run a few little villages, build castles and hang out with lots of people from around the world while casually playing a fun game – Stronghold Kingdoms fits the bill.
For families and friends who are into Renaissance Fairs and Medieval History, this might be a good game to play together. I know that there are many couples who play together – even side by side in real life. That would be fun!
And don’t be surprised if the infamous Prince next door to you turns out to be a 15yo from Hungary; or the leader of your House being a Mom from the Midwest with four kids; or a guy in one of the warring factions to be a recent college graduate from Turkey who has to take off his beloved teamspeak headset and leave the game every once in a while to take his girlfriend to the cinema (at least he has a gf, ha!)…
You will find every walk of life from just about everywhere in Stronghold Kingdoms.
Yeah, be prepared to utilize Google Translator. Stronghold Kingdoms just celebrated four million registered players, worldwide. So it is fairly easy to find groups of people who speak whatever your native language is. Although, most factions use English as much as possible since it is considered to be the International Language.
For the first couple of hours after starting Stronghold Kingdoms MMO, you’re going to be relatively busy before you can ‘let things ride’… Try to make sure you have at least an hour to devote to the game on start-up. You’ll want more.