Starting UpThe game menu is quite simply laid out and easy to understand. To better get a feel of the game, I hopped into the singleplayer lobby before making an utter fool of myself being a noob in an official server (traumatic first ARK experience flashbacks). Setting up a singleplayer lobby is fairly easy but there are a lot of settings that you can fiddle around with to change you're in-game experience. I turned up all the settings for harvesting, carry weight, experience points, etc. to essentially create myself what I've come to call a "boosted" world. My thoughts behind this were to accelerate in-game progress to get as far as I possibly could into the experience in as short a time as possible - for review purposes of course. Once the lobby has started, you can customize your appearance, very similar to most sandbox survival type games. Your appearance can go from somewhat normal to absolutely outrageous in any color, especially if you click random. Once created, you get to select your starting area and are given a choice of three safe locations in low level areas. Perfect for a keen, yet inexperienced novice mage just starting out on his own. I selected Raincourt to the east and started my journey. The opening sequence is quite strange as your newly selected appearance is forged from the fire in a rather odd and disturbing manner. It's all over rather quickly, leaving your brain reeling with so many questions... Getting the hang of the game is simple with the tutorial quest giver standing right in the starting area with a giant glowing exclamation mark floating over their head - convenience is key. The tutorial quests give you a quick and rough knowledge of the game and give you enough skills to start you off. These include foraging, harvesting, cooking, combat, and crafting. You are not bound to these quests and can head off on your own right away or at any point of your choosing. The quests are not long though and quite easy to complete so I'd recommend getting them out the way and earning some free XP for levels early on.
Playing the GameThe game opens up to you the more you play it, with the really cool things being unlocked at higher levels. You earn XP from almost any action in-game, whether it is chopping down a tree, building something or killing something, XP is earned. Less so through more mundane tasks, like gathering wood and stone, as you level up. Once a level is attained, you can choose to throw some points in health, mana, carrying capacity or damage. You also earn knowledge points that you can use to unlock new craftables, building pieces, food, weapons, etc. At first, the game movement felt a little clunky but the option of first-person or third-person view really helps and I elected to stay with third-person as it felt less clunky - but each to their own. The menu system is definitely designed for keyboard and mouse and what was quite clear from very early on was that the controls have not yet been fully optimized for a controller. Navigating around the in-game menus felt tedious and tricky to use d-pad with the absence of a mouse. The default control configuration had some odd choices which didn't make sense to my brain, including no preset melee button. No melee button in the start of the game didn't pose too much of an issue as both LT and RT both melee by default. Once you equip spells to your weapons, those buttons then use your spells and there is not a standard melee attack. I changed this quite quickly and elected to then reconfigure most of the controls to something that made more sense to me. After running around, building and crafting a bit in my singleplayer lobby, I hit a wall (I won't say what here, check out Part 2 for that) and couldn't proceed. After an equal mix of frustration, boredom and curiosity struck, I hopped into a slightly boosted PvE server with THEED3 where we messed around together and tried to figure out the game further. You can see one of the sessions here; THEED3 - Citadel: Forged with Fire Gameplay Playing in a non-boosted server is definitely made for multiplayer as harvesting resources becomes very time consuming and having more than one person doing it would definitely speed things along. Even in our slightly boosted server, THEED3 and I felt the grind of harvesting to build.
Building and DecoratingAt lower levers, your buildings are limited to wood with very simple decorations. Stone and other fancier building materials are unlocked at higher levels. Once you've put in a decent chunk of time and earned the levels, the buildings that you can make are really quite spectacular. The game does not have set buildings and you can build whatever your mind and your resource allows you to. From starting off with a simple hunting shack with a cooking fire to a beautiful castle with ramparts and towers and quidditch type pitches (yes - you read that right). Thrones are vital when building something you'd like to keep as they assign ownership of the building to you and your house and items and doors cannot be opened by anybody not in your house. THEED3 and myself got quite lucky in a PvP server and were able to steal a well established building from another player who had not yet put a throne in, saying they weren't impressed is an understatement! Thrones also stop the building and items from decaying over time, which is a rather nice feature when trying to build a more permanent establishment for yourself our your house. Closing Thoughts Citadel: Forged with Fire really has a lot of potential to do great things on console. It brings a very unique twist to the sandbox survival type games which, in my opinion, sets it apart from games similar to it on the market. As an avid RPG fan, as well as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, this game really ticks a lot of boxes for me and feels a lot like Skyrim with Hearthfire DLC on hardcore mode. Less story-driven, of course, but if you like a more open play experience where your own creativity is your only limit, then this is definitely a game you would enjoy. There is some kind of story plot underlying the whole experience, but I've been too busy figuring the game out and building my castle to delve very far into that. I do look forward to unlocking some of the secrets of the mysterious structures I've found dotted around the landscape of Ignus. I feel that I need to give this game two ratings. So, as a single-player game I give this game a 6/10 as it really is more focused at online play but is still enjoyable on your own. As a multiplayer game, which will be my more official rating as it is an online game, I give Citadel Forged with Fire a rising 7,5 stars out of 10. I say rising as this game as only recently made the move from PC only to multi-platform and I feel like they've done a fairly decent job of it. With one or two tweaks to the game, namely to menu navigation and controls, this game could definitely rate higher (provided they don't break anything else in the process). With that being said, I don't feel like the issues I have mentioned are game-breaking and are valid reasons to deter anyone from buying this game. If you are into any of the mentioned movies and game styles then Citadel is definitely a game you would enjoy.
As always, thank you to the legends over at Apex Interactive for giving us the chance to review this game.