Sandbox survival games have seen a lot of popularity over the years. Games like Ark, Conan Exiles and Rust drop players into a world after they’ve chosen a server and they’re let loose to gather resources, hunt/tame animals and either work with, or kill other players to build or attack bases. Citadel: Forged With Fire is another sandbox survival game but unlike the other big ones. It has a fantasy setting in which you progress though the skill trees like usual to end up with things like guns, instead you get progressively stronger wands, staffs, swords, axes and gauntlets.
To the best of my knowledge another fantasy sandbox RPG in the style of Ark, Rust, et cetera doesn’t exist, making Citadel a very unique game. If you’re looking for a survival game, Citadel doesn’t have the survival elements like having to eat and drink, but it has everything else you would expect like the levelling up your character, taming animals and base construction. Citadel also has some extra elements like daily quests for small rewards. For most new players daily quests will serve as a bit of extra support but their simple and repetitive nature for small rewards means they won’t be very viable to higher level players.
If I had to describe Citadel’s gameplay: it would be that it’s a skeleton with very little meat on it. It’s a unique setting for the style of game it is, with Conan Exiles probably coming closest with its dark fantasy setting, it offers certain opportunities that other sandbox RPGs don’t, like spell focused combat, or flying around on a broomstick. The progression is there, allowing players to work their way through skill trees that allow better spells, equipment and structures, but there isn’t a clear endgame that allows you to put it all to use. For those who don’t mind PvP you can put your progression to use by raiding other players and creating huge bases to deter people.
In a PvE setting though you don’t have anything like the bosses or raids of Ark and Conan to keep you on your toes or working past getting the highest level gear. Probably the closest thing to a boss encounter you have are the dragons. Sadly I also noticed fairly quickly it is far to easy to manipulate and exploit the AI when using terrain or certain spells against them; this made a lot of the combat encounters turn into me running in circles using spells or hopping on a platform to smack the enemy’s head. Some of the animations feel a bit wooden and lifeless as well, like the lifeless swing of an axe which doesn’t help the feel of the combat either.
Building up your base is definitely the most satisfying part of the game, watching a simple shack turn into an enormous castle over time is one of the best things you can do in any game that involves base building and Citadel is no different. One thing that is cool as well is the ability to claim forgotten bases as your own. If you manage to stumble upon a base without an owner you can just throw a throne down and you have a base without any of the work! If you want to build your own though there is a fairly simple construction menu,with a just as simple grid based building system. As with any games of this style though, the expansion and improving of bases is a lengthy and in some cases tedious process. One that can be brought to nought if another player destroys it as well. Of course, that’s the whole point of PvP but if you want to keep that nice base standing you’ll have to try play nice with other players.
On the other hand you don’t really want to play nice with most other players. Yes, the game is made much easier and better when you have a group of people to work with but there doesn’t seem to be any real endgame content. Sure, you can go and hunt down the tougher enemies or even try to tame a dragon, but unless you count the dragons there aren’t really any big boss enemies like in Ark or Conan. this ends up creating an environment where players that have reached a high level will just grind out enemies to max themselves out and then just hunt other players or commit to base building. Maybe players can get creative with the building and do other things like create courses to race broomsticks around but that’s not intended content and from what I played it feels more like an early access title. That right there is Citadel’s biggest flaw.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher