Citadel: Forged with Fire has recently entered Early Access on Steam. We decided to see if this massive online sandbox RPG can help satisfying our hankering for swords, sorcery and castles. Oh, and dragons. We have to have those dragons.

The world of Ignus in Forged with Fire is like the awkward love child of Dungeons & Dragons mixed with Ark: Survival Evolved.  Developed by Virtual Basement (ARK: Survival Evolved) and Blue Isle Studios (Valley), Citadel: Forged with Fire has the potential to be one of the best build-em-up sandbox RPGs on the market.

One of the largest and best features of this game is its world. Two of us have been exploring it since the beginning of Early Access, and we both agree that these two independent studios have taken the Unreal Engine 4 to some pretty impressive heights. The environments are lush and beautiful with resources aplenty. The forests feel alive with animals, fairies, orcs and dragons, while the deserts and frosty regions are tempered with enormous fire giants, undead, and… well… more orcs.

The second best feature is the incredibly simple, yet robust crafting system. Mostly involving drag and drop, the system lets you pick what type of construction you want to do, then place it where you need it.

Want to create a small village like in Kokiri Forest from the Zelda series? Go for it. Feel a bit more ambitious? Then maybe rebuilding Winterfell from Game of Thrones is more your thing. Perhaps you’re more into the impregnable fortress type castle-builder. Well, there’s no shortage to what you can come up with and create. At the end of the day, the sky’s the limit and while I can’t speak for everyone, I certainly found this aspect of the game to be almost therapeutic.

Citadel: Forged with Fire crafting

Overall gameplay, like the crafting system, is fairly simple in its execution. You have limited health and mana pools, as well as a carrying capacity, though you can improve these as you level up. There’s no stamina bar so no worries about tripping over yourself trying to escape that dragon who’s about to turn you into lunch.

You’ll wield a few different weapon types from axes to staves and gauntlets, with more powerful versions unlocked as you level and invest Knowledge points into their respective skill trees. The same goes for your armor.

This brings us to one of the most important aspects of the game: your Knowledge pool. As you level up, you will receive a limited amount of “points” to invest in crafting, whether its arms, armor, potions, structures, spells, etc. As you get further down the tiers of each knowledge set, the amount of points required increase exponentially, so it’s wise to plan out what you intend to use and build so you don’t end up wasting Knowledge. Fortunately, if you do screw up, you can learn to craft a potion that resets your Knowledge and allows you to reallocate your points at level 40.

Leveling up allows you to invest in “upgrades” to your health, mana, attack and carrying capacity, in addition to gaining Knowledge points. Also, certain tiers of crafting only unlock after reaching certain levels. Depending on whether you choose to play on a PvP or PvE server, you’ll find spending your points to be a very tactical experience.

Citadel: Forged with Fire combat

Other prominent features include animal taming, guilds/houses, PvP, character creation and mass exploration. If you can see it, you can most likely reach it either by walking or flying. Animal taming can be useful if you want an ally in combat or a pack horse to carry all that stone you’re lugging around to build your castle. All in all, the system is a bit too simplistic for my tastes. Guilds/Houses are a bit of a limited functionality in the current build of the game, but do allow you to pair up with your friends and build/own structures together. Since it’s so early in the game, I don’t expect much from this mechanic yet, but it has great potential and is great for building community towns/cities and such.

My experience with the PvP has been limited so far as I’ve mostly been exploring the PvE servers, but the system need a lot of work before it becomes viable. Much of the time you’ll end up either dying, or watching your time invested into building a base go to waste as players mercilessly destroy them. I’d feel a lot better about it if they included a PvP flag system like other MMOs, but again these are features that may be included in future updates or in the final build of the game.

The developers are very active, which is a huge plus point. They communicate often with the player-base through Reddit, the official site, or with consistent updates on the Steam page. It’s clear they are committed to not only improving the game, but adding content that the players are interested in.

Citadel: Forged with Fire PvP

Being a Steam Early Access title, Citadel: Forged with Fire still has plenty of issues. The worst that I’ve encountered so far is the terrible optimization of the game and engine. We tested the game on two different rigs (one running on a GTX 1070 GPU and the other on a GTX 780) with only a 5-10 FPS improvement between them. Depending on where you are in the game or what’s going on, you can experience some awful stuttering and frame drops. The developers are aware of these issues and are steadily improving them through patches, but as of the latest build, they are still present for even really good PCs.

Other issues include a notable lack of craftable furniture, a very limited character creation system, too simple enemy AI, and a limited set of armor and weapons. As with the optimization issues, the developers are working on improvements and additions as the game continues in development. As a side note, once purchased, all of these updates are free and no paid DLC or content has been announced so far.

For an Early Access game, Citadel: Forged with Fire is an incredibly enjoyable experience for anyone who enjoys survival RPGs and world building. While some of the issues concerning optimization, customization and enemy AI can hurt the experience, I strongly feel that the potential of the game, as well as its current features outweigh these temporary issues.

So get out there and create your perfect world in the land of Ignus.

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