Citadel: Forged with Fire looks like another ARK or Rust clone, however the spell crafting, broomstick riding and pet taming makes you feel like a powerful mage.
Citadel: Forged With Fire is an online sandbox RPG developed by Blue Isle Studios and Virtual Basement. The game has been in early access since 2017 with version 1.0 released on Steam, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on November 1, 2019. With elements of magic, spellcasting and inter-kingdom conflict, as a newly minted apprentice of the magic arts, you will set off to investigate the dangerous world of Ignus. Your goal: create a name for yourself and achieve notoriety and power among the land’s ruling Houses.
Citadel: Forged with Fire looks and feels like Ark: Survival Evolved, which was also made by Virtual Basement, as well as Rust and Conan Exiles. It runs very well majority of the time and some of the environment settings are just gorgeous. The character models and animals/monster animations look great. The sounds are fantastic, especially when I’m trying to find particular monsters for resources, I often hear faeries or bears before I see them.
What makes the game stand out though is its focus on magic, with the ability to craft a broomstick which you can fly, tame creatures such as giant eagles and dragons and ride them, as well as customising the spells that can be added to various weapons. Citadel is described as a massive online sandbox; however, this is not to be confused with a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game – the difference being the number of players on a server. There are many official servers that you can choose from based in US, Europe and Asia, with varying player limits up to a max of 50, but you can only create one character per server. You can also rent your own private server too if you wanted to host a friends-only server or LAN party.
You start by choosing one of three starting locations, Raincourt, Heathclyffe and Eastreach. These towns are magically protected with a visible force field around them preventing harmful player and npc interactions. All three starting towns have the same newbie quests, teaching you the basics of picking up items such as runes, wood and berries, crafting a fire to cook food and harvesting essences. Whether intentional or not, you can travel by foot to the other two safe zones and repeat the same starter quest chain for additional items and experience, which I highly recommend doing. After these starter quests though, you’re pretty much left to your own devices.
I’ve played plenty of games over the years that do this, however I can see some players left pondering what to do next. As it’s in the sandbox RPG genre though, generally you’re used to choosing your own adventure, and this gives you great freedom on how you want to play your character. It’s also a lot more fun with mates, but I say that a lot about games these days. Everything you do earns you experience in the game so whilst tedious initially, it’s worth picking up literally everything you see on the ground. I started to collect everything and then skipped it for a few levels, however when you get to base building and crafting better weapons/armour, you’ll wish you harvested more. You can craft and eat food for buffs, however thankfully there’s no survival element of your character being required to eat and drink like other games in the genre.
You can outfit your character with weapons, armour and trinkets, and different tiers of items can be unlocked at levels 5, 10, 15, 20 and so on. This gives me greater goals when I’m sometimes lost as to what I should do with my character next. Weapons consist of fists, axes/swords, wands and staves. You can equip up to four weapons and these can be used as simple melee weapons, but the real diversity comes when you add up to two spells per weapon. Each weapon has two offensive and two utility spells that can be created, and the variance is determined by which magical essence is added to the spell. I really liked the random stats chance with crafting items which reminded me of crafting in Diablo III and was genuinely excited to see what I would make whenever I learnt a new recipe. I was stoked when the second robe I ever made was an orange epic one with awesome stats!
Essences such as light, dark and nature can be found in the world as well as creature loot without venturing too far, and more powerful essences can be found on the harder monsters. The default arcane essence produces basic projectile, beam or blast offensive spells, as well as self-healing and utility spells to aid you. In addition to this, resources you find can add bonuses to the spells you craft. For example, bones add a percentage chance to leech life, faery dust increases the range of spells, and several other items add different properties, so you have many options to play with. Light essences produce generally helpful spells, nature produce spells such as barkskin and root. Be mindful of using dark essences as they will suck life from you with every cast. I learnt this the hard way at level 5 when I killed myself before the boar I was trying to kill got near me. I try to forget that particular moment.
Two particularly useful utility spells are extract and pacify. Adding extract to your wand with the nature essence allows you to shoot a beam at a tree, rock, mushroom or anything that contains resources and it will harvest those resources as you’re running along. This is a godsend and I recommend getting this asap as it means you can literally harvest as you’re running around. Pacify is used to tame animals/monsters, with the time taken to tame determined by your weapon strength and the health left on the animal/monster. You can tame up to four pets at once which can be a mount plus 3 combatant pets, or any combination you like.
At level 10 you can learn how to craft broomsticks and saddles, and after building a base and a workbench, you’ll be able craft a saddle and equip it onto one of your tamed pets to then ride them. My first mount was a horse and the riding animation was janky. When I dismounted from the horse, it popped the horse awkwardly into the air and that’s where it stayed. The broomstick is an awesome mode of transportation; however, it costs mana to use so be sure to have mana potions and mana food stocked up in your pack. You can have a heck of a lot of fun building the house, fort, mage tower or castle of your dreams. You’re only limited by the time and effort it takes collecting resources, so of course grouping up means many hands make light work. As I ran around, I saw heaps of amazing housing creations.
There were some other graphical glitches occasionally through my travels but nothing game breaking. During the night it’s dark, gloomy and misty and sometimes hard to see in the distance, but during the day the game is stunningly beautiful. I have set up my house overlooking a lake and long in the distance to the north I can see a mountain with an enormous stone statue. According to some other players, you can travel there so I’m looking forward to seeing that later. The further you travel north, the harder the monsters get. As I started to venture north, I had a couple of players fly over to me and say “hey, you’re too low level, you’ll get slaughtered if you keep going!” Even though I’m on a PvP server, most players I’ve come across have been helpful which has been a great experience.
There’s plenty of daily quests, caves and npc camps for me to test my combat spells and the loot is quite good too, with a single treasure chest as a reward for clearing a camp, and 2-3 treasure chests for clearing a level 10 cave. You earn skill points as you level up, so I’ve been splitting my points into housing blueprints as well as recently unlocking some level 10 weapons and armour. You also gain stat points when levelling, and it’s worth pumping some points into carry weight as you’ll be harvesting heaps of resources until you build a house. I’m looking forward to slowly making my way north as my character gets stronger, and the lure of bigger and better loot is teasing my progress. Each time I login to play, I’ll set myself some goals, such as gaining enough resources to make some new weapons. However, along the way I’ll get distracted by taking out an enemy camp or discover some random treasure chests in the wilderness.
Citadel: Forged with Fire looks like another ARK or Rust clone, however the spell crafting, broomstick riding and pet taming makes you feel like a true mage. I’ve enjoyed my 8 hours in the game so far and I’m looking forward to levelling up my mage to each of the 5-level milestones, unlocking more craftables and venturing into harder territory. I do find it can get a bit repetitive at times, which is not uncommon with these survival games, but a short break gives me the itch to get back into Citadel. I feel this is a game I will be chipping away at for a fair amount over the coming months. Since release, the developers at Blue Isle Studios have been watching and listening to player feedback and implementing a lot of commonly recommended changes and quality of life updates. They also provided a brief update regarding a roadmap for the game:
“We have been planning some huge new updates for Citadel: Forged with Fire which we’ll be rolling out in the months ahead. We have previously talked a little bit about our brand new, epic quest lines coming. These quests will take you on an incredible journey throughout Ignus and help players uncover dark secrets about the world. We also have other awesome content such as a clothing dyes system, structure painting and recoloring systems, more weapons, mini-boss world events, and much more planned!”
I feel if this momentum can keep going then there will certainly be some longevity in this game and I recommend fans of sandbox RPG’s to give this a go for a couple of hours at least, see if it grabs you like it did me. This review utilised a Steam key provided for review purposes. Citadel: Forged with Fire is available now on Steam, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.