Citadel: Forged with Fire is a massive online sandbox RPG that mixes the traditional MMORPG layout with freeform exploration and crafting-centered gameplay. Players are given complete freedom as they traverse the land, tame monsters, and live their desired lives in this brave new world. As many would agree, the game feels like a mixture of ARK, Skyrim, and oddly, Harry Potter with magic being heavily implemented in its core system. Expect to cast spells, and a lot of them, whether out gathering or in combat.
Enter the world of Ignus, a massive world full of wonder spanning 36 square kilometers from frozen tundras to craggy mountains. The game’s narrative is very subtle, giving players more freedom to craft their own stories as denizens of Ignus. We were able to get our feet wet during early access, and have had our fair share of Citadel. How was it? Let’s find out.
Out With The Bad
The game is still in Early Access so it’s worth noting that many features may change between now and the final product. Nonetheless, I will jot down some of the things that have irked me thus far. I have noticed some serious optimization issues here and there, with frame drops being quite rampant despite the game running on credible hardware. There’s also the issue of monsters not fighting back, mostly when playing alone which has been bothersome. This was said to be a product of lag. The game also lacks a preset graphics option which means players may have to drag its many visual sliders left and right until they get their desired performance.
Onward to Ignus!
Upon starting the game you’ll be prompted to either create or join a server. You are also given the option to host your own ‘official’ server for a small sum. As of today, character customization only offers enough to at least provide a subtle difference between avatars. I found myself yearning more options upon seeing the character creation screen. Each gender comes with just four pre-made face and hair types, leaving only the tone of your skin, hair, nail, and eye color for added diversity. It’s a small con but one that can present a big change as this is an online game. Since you will be playing with a lot of players for a gratuitous amount of time, some facial variety would be most welcome.
I found the experience to be rather overwhelming upon entering Ignus. This was mostly due to the fact that the game encourages players to play and progress however they want. This presented me with the never ending dilemma of where to spend my attribute points. Thankfully, the interface and skill trees are very easy to grasp as you go along, letting you spend your points effectively as you level further. The early grind may feel slow, with players merely gathering materials and stalking for weak creatures in the early levels. Luckily, the game lets you change the experience rate, so feel free to change the EXP rate to x5 for faster progression.
Another feature I’ve had some difficulty with is the tiered inventory weight system, which became a bit of a hurdle as I did my early crafts. I’m normally fine with being encumbered by my inventory space in traditional MMOs, but something that requires a lot of raw materials like Citadel might need to offer a bit more leniency when it comes to bag space. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to go back and forth just to get enough lumber for my shabby little house. Unlike games like Minecraft, something as simple as a wall may require around 8-10 pieces of lumber to build instead of the regular 1-1 ratio. I understand that it borders on realism, and crafting is just one of the many features integrated into Citadel’s sandbox goodness, but being bottlenecked by your inventory’s weight early on can get pretty annoying when you’re out gathering. This, of course, is remedied by leveling up and creating storage chests but I would really prefer having a more forgiving inventory space to lessen my trips back to camp when adventuring.
Citadel: Forged with Fire is a game with a lot of depth, and despite the small gripes I’ve jotted above, it was pretty hard to stop playing. I often found myself wondering what lay beyond the uncharted borders of the map and would constantly explore its many nooks and crannies in search of treasure, new monsters, and subtle hints on the Ignus’s lore.
Citadel’s gameplay is, for a lack of a better term, ARK’s magical sister. It brings players the same feeling of wanderlust that makes these sandbox games very addicting, sporting diverse areas to explore, from sweeping plains to festering swamps. The taming aspect of the game is what influenced my sudden comparison with ARK although instead of taming dinosaurs, you’re subduing mythical beasts like dragons. Citadel pretty much has a bit of everything to sate the many different ways you can play the game and while having all those options available on the fly may overwhelm you at first, the game is easy to grasp and you’ll find yourself enjoying it in no time. Players will surely have a blast diving into its many features, whether as a crafter, adventurer, or player killer.
Speaking of player-killing, PVP servers are definitely the way to go if you want to enjoy Citadel at its best, with that unparalleled sense of paranoia looming over your shoulder as you uphold your house/guild and fortify your garrison and the many treasures and materials you have acquired on your travels. Having an all out feud with another house is thrilling just as it is satisfying, with armies of mages shooting fireballs and bolts of lightning, you’d think it was a Harry Potter movie.
As for spells, the Citadel holds perhaps one of the most diverse sets of spells to ever be added to a video game, allowing players to bring down meteors from the heavens or even lift castles with their mind. Heck, the game even uses magic to gather lumber from trees. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.
As far as innovation goes, Citadel: Forged with Fire takes most of what makes sandbox games glorious and molds it into its own desired theme. While most of its features may not be considered new in the world of modern gaming, the way it combines these already available gimmicks in the world of Ignus makes for a unique and enthralling experience.
Citadel is an online game that’s not afraid to extend its storytelling to the players, with its denizens making their own kingdoms, fighting their own wars, and organizing their own boss raids/hunts. It’s this amazing concept that makes me wish that each server housed thousands of players…
The community has been quite helpful thus far. Though there’s not much to tell as most of the servers available can only house up to 60 players, with most of them being password-protected. The forums, however, are looking pretty lively, posting guides to help newbies get better acquainted with the game.
One piece of advice would be to never play this game alone, sacrificing ping for a group is well worth it, given that they can ease the amount of effort required when building structures, farming materials, and taking down enemies. There’s no fun to be had if you’re in the only one in your house, after all.
When it comes to visuals, Citadel does not disappoint. In fact, I find it hard to believe that the game only warranted a 2.8GB download. It does suffer from a couple of framerate dips and stutters but the developers seem to be hard at work when it comes to optimization, so we should be expecting it to run flawlessly in no time. The game really feels a bit dark compared to other games at night but that only adds to the overall atmosphere.
Most of the areas are a treat to explore, often providing top notch visuals regardless of whether you’re exploring the woods or crawling one of the many caverns. The visuals were so good I didn’t think I would be able to harvest the rocks and trees in the background.
The game’s sound is also satisfying to a degree, with spells delivering that satisfying crunch upon being cast. The game’s background music blends in with the scenery instead of popping out like a random track, enhancing the overall experience from an audio perspective.
Value for Money
The game retails for 19.99 USD on Steam currently and is in Early Access. Honestly, I think the game is worth the price, especially with the amount of work and constant updates the game has undergone throughout its lifespan already. I’m not usually one to indulge in early access purchases unless it grants freebies for the finished product, but Citadel can easily be an exception to that rule. It’s always nice to see devs deliver on their promises. It’s that form of sincerity that not only entices its community to play more but ensures the overall quality of their title as well. With that said, I would recommend Citadel: Forged with Fire to anyone looking for a good sandbox multiplayer game. It’s a title that has a lot of potential and I’m very excited to see the final product.Related: Citadel: Forged with Fire, Early Access, Preview, Steam, Survival