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Stronghold Crusader 2 wants players to be castlemates

Firefly Studios is offering a unique co-op experience by allowing two players to work together within its castle sim real-time strategy game, Stronghold Crusader 2, the team told Polygon.

"With multiplayer we've got teams of AI, but one of the cool things is we've got multiplayer co-op, where you basically share the same castle," said marketing manager Nick Tannahill. "So that is one of the big features that we have. We control the same castle, but I might build the economy and you might build the military side. We'll have voice over Steam chat so we can talk all over. We are aiming to make it the best RTS of 2014."

According Tannahill, the game combines all of the aspects of a city builder with real time strategy style, "Which are two quite complex things, so when you split them between each other it really is quite fun to play that way." Resources to share include in-game items such as wood from chopping trees, water, crops and animals. Firefly said that it isn't aware of another game in the genre where two people are on the same team sharing the same resources.

With the new 3D engine, gamers will receive an overhauled user interface, physics and AI. Where the last game engine was very restrictive of rotations and only had two zooms, the player can now rotate the view anywhere. Dynamic events will also occur, such as a locus swarm and a tornado, which will hilariously spout people out of its top. Players will also be able to free-build castles and walls.

A few new notable classes such as the Assassin can stealthily run to enemy's castles gate and allow player's troops through. The agile Horse Archers can fire arrows with a 360 degree range of fire. The other horseback class, The Chargers, can counteract the damage of the Horse Archers by charging them down. Finally, the Slave Driver "motivates" the group of slaves.

"They've got torches and what you do is, you get a group of them to run towards the enemy's castle," said producer Paul Harris. "The castle goes into panic as the slaves set the farms alight at the edge of the castle. They are a really nice attack unit."

Other units include the Templer, Horse Archer, Christian Sergeant, Healer, Dervish and more. The Crusader and Arabic factions will receive 10 new units and new units will either have passive and active special moves. Active abilities will have a cool down, such as the Dervish.

"There is a guy called a Dervish," said Harris of a lithe dual-sabre wielding character. "We've added animations in so you know when when his special ability is ready. What he can do is run into a group of soldiers and keep whirling. But he will only last for a certain period of time, not until he is pumped and ready for action again."

It also features a full skirmish mode, so when player is fighting against an AI, the team wanted to make it feel like gamers were playing a human versus human multiplayer.

"When there are AI players, we tried to make it feel like a human multiplayer matches where we have all these different AIs," said Harris. "We've got Richard the Lionheart who is very British, very noble and fights very cleanly. Then you have Kalef. Kalef is aggressive, no nonsense. You know, he isn't going to take any prisoners type guy. They all have their own personalities."

There will be eight AI skirmish characters at launch with a total of 16 planned to roll-out post-release. To give the game more character and a bit of a Monty Python-edge, Firefly has included snippets of characters' dialogue that will play at opportune moments.

When creating a historical fiction game, Firefly was sure to be diligent about history research for fear of letting fans down. One example, in the last instalment, solider units attacked castle walls with their swords and fans got in touch with the devs about the inaccuracy. Firefly have amended this by adding the correct tools and paying attention to detail to make it more realistic.

Stronghold Crusader 2 will launch on Windows PC and Steam in 2014.

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