Citadel: Forged with Fire Hands On Preview
Citadel is quite unique in its own little corner of the online sandbox-RPG-with-fantasy-elements room. Though it is one of the hundreds of sandbox games released into early access, Citadel managed to grab my attention with an interesting premise and a very promising trailer. But, like most early access games, should it have even been released yet?
The only stories to be had in Citadel are the ones you make yourself. You spawn alone in a cave atop a flaming altar, and though the spawning animation isn’t nearly half as gruesome as the trailer, it’s still more interesting than just randomly popping in. Once you’ve gathered your bearings, you look out at the slowly-rendering land of Ignus and plot your adventure. Here Citadel slows to a crawl as you begin the typical crafting/gathering phase of these games, picking up anything with detailed textures that isn’t nailed to the ground and crafting them into weapons, armor, and potions.
“I wasn’t expecting an intricate combat system right off the bat, but I’d like to see a wider range of abilities to help spice up the combat.”
Gathering also contributes experience to your next level and, being an RPG, there’s quite a large skill tree to work your way through. Spells are limited to two per weapon, but there’s a lot of different spells and abilities to choose from; with spells to help you tame creatures, help support your allies in combat, and gather items from a distance. Every level you gain gives you more skill points to add into blueprints for buildings, more armor and potions to craft, broomsticks that let you fly, and a selection of different weapons to fight with.
Speaking of, the combat in Citadel doesn’t seem to be a saving grace. There are four forms of combat to choose from, each with their own talent trees of interesting spells to mess around with, but neither helps change how lackluster the combat feels. Currently, most fighting in PvE is done by spamming left click and kiting the monsters whilst chugging mana potions, whereas PvP boils down to using a single type of weapon and spamming left click and the potion hotkey some more. I wasn’t expecting an intricate combat system right off the bat, but I’d like to see a wider range of abilities to help spice up the combat.
Though Citadel is a sandbox game, it doesn’t have any of the tedious survival elements that similar games have retained alongside the crafting/gathering. Removing them makes exploring the world that much more enjoyable, and there are lots of sights to see in Ignus. Different biomes full of different creatures, caves, and dungeons brimming with monsters and treasure, and even the occasional dragon circling worryingly close overhead. Yet in spite all of this, there isn’t that much to do yet.
Most caves and dungeons are just your standard room after room full of enemies, with some treasure and gatherables sprinkled along the way. The outside world, though full of interesting little details like encampments and towers, still doesn’t give you much of a reason to explore outside of your own boredom. Once you’ve seen one of the sights then you’ve pretty much seen them all. There are currently no NPCs or quests in the game yet, but the developers are planning on implementing a player-made quest system, which will hopefully add some life to the game.
Citadel is similar to most sandbox RPG’s in that you make a different character for every server you join, which won’t take long as the character customization tools are very lacking, with only a few pre-made features to choose from. Multiplayer seems to be the optimal way to play this game, as playing alone on a server was incredibly dull. This was one of the saving graces for Citadel, as teaming up to raid an enemy faction’s house, or grouping up to take out a difficult monster made the game a lot more enjoyable.
Despite this, I couldn’t enjoy the game for too long as my frame rate would drop constantly. No matter how high or how low my settings were, the fps would drop from a smooth fifty/sixty down to a thirty during combat. I’ve heard similar complaints from other players, so I’m expecting this to be patched soon, as it really takes the last bit of fun out of this game.
The developers even stated in a recent post that they have lots of big plans set up for the future, such as NPCs, different weapons to use, world bosses and events that happen across the map, and, thankfully, some further optimization for the game. I feel as though optimizing their servers should be a priority, as of the several servers I joined and played in, every one of them was nearly unplayable due to the lag. Even servers with low ping had monsters and players skidding along the ground.
As it currently is, Citadel isn’t fantastic. Though the game has a great concept and the planned updates are very promising, with the developers pumping out a few patches and hotfixes seemingly each week, there just isn’t enough of this game to praise that makes it worth recommending right now. PvP and PvE are clunky and boring, the amount of grinding needed for level ups and crafting is mind-numbingly dull unless you play on altered servers, and there isn’t even that much of a real end-goal for said grinding. For now, I’d give Citadel a miss, but also an occasional glance whenever a big update comes out.