General game information
Game name: Citadel: Forged with Fire
Release date: 26 July, 2017 (Early Access)
Price: US$ 24.99 (the developers have announced that the price may increase when the game leaves Early Access)
Store page: Steam
Genre: Open world online RPG with survival elements
Developer: Blue Isle Studios, Virtual Basement LLC
Publisher: Blue Isle Studios
Playing as a mage in a videogame can lead to incredibly cool moments, but usually we’ll be presented with long cooldowns and prohibitive resource costs for most spells, forcing us to rely on traditional melee/ranged warriors to support our work and relegating us to the rearguard. Citadel: Forged with Fire aims to change this status quo, joining the ranks of other titles such as Fictorum or Lichdom: Battlemage, which also promised to make playing as a mage fun (with varying degrees of success).
Unlike Fictorum or Lichdom, however, Citadel is a primarily multiplayer experience, as most open world survival games are nowadays. After creating a custom character we’ll spawn at an uninhabited fortress that acts as a safe location, free to explore a 36 square kilometer landmass filled with orc camps and dangerous creatures. Depending on the type of server chosen (either PVP or PVE) we may not only have to contend with the perils of Ignus, but also with other players that could be after our skin.
Starting out, we’ll have to settle for menial tasks such as collecting wood, rocks, mana crystals and plants, but as we gain experience, we’ll be able to learn spells and useful crafting recipes. Should we die, we’ll drop all the items on our inventory, and our equipped armor/weapons will suffer some degradation (die enough times and your items break, disappearing completely from the game world). As usual with most survival games, our first order of business should be establishing a base of operations, a relatively easy task thanks to the simple building mechanics. All ingame actions will reward us with experience points, making it possible to level up through crafting or resource collecting, but most players will probably choose to hunt down low level mobs in order to get ahead quickly.
Interestingly, while Citadel shares many aspects with games such as Rust or ARK: Survival Evolved, the developers chose to leave out hunger and thirst, a change that I personally welcomed with open arms. After all, survival doesn’t necessarily mean that we should be keeping an eye on fast-draining resource meters all the time, and even if it did, managing our supply of mana would already tick that box.
Other deviations from classic survival game tropes include the way resource collection works (with the exception of early game gathering, we’ll use a spell to gather wood, stone, and other resources, saying goodbye to the old “punch trees to obtain logs” gameplay mechanic popularized by Minecraft), how transportation is handled after reaching level 10 (from that moment onwards, we’ll be able to ride flying broomsticks) and last but not least, the way creature taming works (the “Pacify” spell makes creatures docile, but they will only follow us for a set period of time, which can be increased through the use of special scrolls).
Everything else is mostly similar to features found in titles like ARK: Survival Evolved or Conan Exiles. We can create “Houses” which act as guilds and let like-minded players squad up to take on other Houses or PVE dangers such as the flamebreathing dragons that dominate the skies, build mighty castles with their own magic networks producing new resources and keeping our crafting equipment going… and not much else. The current incarnation of Citadel: Forged with Fire lacks compelling endgame content, something that is understandable, considering its early state, but will probably turn off potential players until the developers release a few more updates.
Aside from the lack of worthwhile endgame activities, Citadel‘s other big downside is that right now, performance is all over the place, with high-end systems being forced to play at lower settings than expected, and mid-range rigs having to settle for 30 FPS (or even lower, in some cases). Admittedly, the game looks quite good, with excellent lighting effects and some impressive texture work for certain parts of the world, but still, there’s a lot of work to be done in the optimization department before the developers can call it a day. Server stability is also a concern, although in the days since the Early Access launch, things have gotten a lot better.
Ultimately, Citadel: Forged with Fire shows a lot of promise but developers Blue Isle Studios will have to work hard on optimization and engaging endgame content before I can recommend it wholeheartedly.