Stronghold 3 Review : Building And Defending Your Castle Empire 2024

Stronghold 3 is the long-awaited third installment in the popular Stronghold series of real-time strategy games developed by Firefly Studios and published by SouthPeak Games. Released in 2011, Stronghold 3 returns to the series’ roots of medieval castle building and management, providing players with a robust economic and military simulation.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of the Stronghold games or new to the series, this in-depth Stronghold 3 review covers everything you need to know about the gameplay, features, graphics, and overall impression of this castle builder strategy game. Read on to find out if Stronghold 3 is worth storming the castle gates for!

Overview of Stronghold 3 Gameplay

The core Stronghold gameplay loop revolves around constructing and managing a medieval castle estate while defending against invading armies. As the lord of your castle, you oversee the building of various types of structures like housing, farms, mills, and workshops to produce resources and house peasants and soldiers. Managing taxes, food rations, and popularity keeps your peasants happy and productive. Walls, towers, traps, and troops protect your castle from siege weapons and soldiers looking to plunder your estate.

Stronghold 3 adds several new elements on top of this addicting castle simulation formula:

Dynamic Fire System

Fire plays a more active role in Stronghold 3, capable of spreading dynamically across buildings in your castle or besieging forces’ camps. Fire must be monitored and managed carefully now as it can quickly get out of control, adding a new layer of challenge.

Day and Night Cycle

The new day-night cycle impacts visibility and productivity throughout your estate. Certain resources can only be gathered at certain times of day or year, requiring more complex resource planning.

Harsh Winters

Winters now arrive periodically, bringing hazardous icy roads, freezing temperatures, and reduced farm productivity. Stockpiling resources becomes critical for survival.

Bonus Missions

Stronghold 3 includes several bonus “Kingmaker” missions where you reshape medieval history by altering the outcome of famous battles like the Battle of Hastings in 1066.


Up to 8 players can now compete or cooperate online through various multiplayer modes like King of the Hill, Castle Attack, and Castle Defense.

Overall the new features build on the compelling medieval castle simulation that has defined the Stronghold franchise for years.

Stronghold 3 Graphics and Visuals

Stronghold 3 runs on an updated graphics engine, boasting the best visuals and animations in the series. Things like flickering torch lights, swaying trees, and villagers milling about make your bustling castle settlement come alive. When zooming in close, you can appreciate fine details on buildings, terrain, and character models.

That said, Stronghold 3 is not going to blow you away visually compared to more modern RTS games. The engine is aging a bit, unable to showcase large epic battles with thousands of individually rendered units. The medieval characters also still look a bit stiff and unnatural in their movements at times.

Overall though, Stronghold fans will find Stronghold 3 to be a solid graphical improvement over previous titles that improves immersion and the medieval atmosphere. The new engine conveys the management and combat aspect of the game well.

Stronghold 3 Campaign, Missions, and Single-Player

Stronghold 3 comes with several single-player options:

Military Campaign

The primary single-player experience is the lengthy Military Campaign, made up of 15 story-driven missions across 3 chapters. You control various lords defending or besieging castles across medieval Europe. Each mission has unique objectives and introduces new maps, challenges, castle types, and siege tactics.

The missions provide an excellent tutorial into Stronghold 3’s economic and military systems while giving you a taste of assaulting and defending a variety of castles. The story and characters keeping the campaign moving aren’t the most gripping, but they get the job done.

Economic Campaign

For those more interested in the simulation side of Stronghold, the Economic Campaign provides 12 challenging missions focused on building and managing your estate rather than waging war. Fending off wilderness, constructing an efficient castle economy, and maximizing peasant happiness and productivity are your goals here.

Free Build Mode

Free Build mode is the sandbox mode where you can construct the castle of your dreams with no restrictions on a variety of maps. Test out castle designs and siege tactics here to your heart’s content.

Custom Game Mode

The Custom Game mode lets you tweak settings like maps, enemies, resources, and more to quickly set up skirmish games tailored to your preferences. This is a great way to practice honing your combat tactics and simulating multiplayer matches.

Overall the missions provide a good amount of variety in terms of objectives and playing other lords with diverse personalities and tactics bolsters the single-player experience.

Stronghold 3 Multiplayer

Stronghold 3 marks the first time a Stronghold game has launched with online multiplayer capabilities, adding new competitive and cooperative options:

Competitive Modes

In modes like King of the Hill, Castle Attack, and Castle Defense you can challenge other players online to attack or defend castles in head-to-head matches. There is also a co-op Siege mode where you work together against the AI.

Ranked Play

Stronghold 3 tracks your victories in ranked multiplayer matches, assigning you a rank on the leaderboards. Improving your strategies to climb the ranks can become quite addicting.

AI Difficulty

When playing cooperative modes, you can tweak the difficulty of the AI opponent to always provide the right challenge for your skill level.

Online play runs smoothly with some cool options like being able to take over control of your ally’s castle troops if they temporarily drop from the game. There aren’t a huge number of available maps that can limit long-term competitiveness, but the online play is still a welcome addition overall.

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Stronghold 3 Review: Verdict

Stronghold 3 sticks to a proven formula that long-time fans of the series have loved while adding new elements like fire physics, weather, night cycles, and competitive multiplayer to enhance the challenge and variety. The AI provides robust opponents that will severely punish any inefficiencies in your castle design or military tactics. Campaigns offer dozens of hours of engaging medieval scenarios. Online multiplayer breathes fresh life into the series’ competitive side.

That said, over 10 years after the previous title, some players may be left wanting more innovation. The core gameplay remains very similar to previous Stronghold games. The graphics, while improved, are starting to show their age compared to newer RTS titles. Pathfinding and game performance can still be shaky at times.

But for fans craving another deep medieval castle builder with strong economic and military systems, Stronghold 3 delivers. Newcomers to the series may have some initial learning curve, but the addictive loop of efficiently designing your castle economy and defending against ever-stronger siege forces will soon suck you in for hours. If you enjoy methodically building, managing, and defending medieval castles and fiefdoms, Stronghold 3 is easy to recommend.

Frequently Asked Questions About Stronghold 3

Here are answers to some of the most common questions asked about Stronghold 3:

Is there a base building in Stronghold 3?

Yes, constructing and managing your medieval castle is the core focus of Stronghold 3’s gameplay. You get to design the layout of various buildings like housing, farms, mills, and workshops. Building placement and efficiency are crucial.

How does combat work in Stronghold 3?

As lord of your castle, you train troops like pikemen, archers, and knights to defend your walls and structures from invading armies utilizing siege weapons, towers, and soldiers. You can control troops in real time during combat.

Is there a story campaign?

Yes, Stronghold 3 features a 15-mission military campaign with a light narrative guiding you through various medieval lords and castles. There is also an economic-focused campaign.

Does Stronghold 3 have multiplayer?

Stronghold 3 marks the first game in the series with online multiplayer features. You can play competitive modes like Castle Attack and cooperative modes against AI opponents.

What are the new features in Stronghold 3?

Stronghold 3 introduces fire physics, day-night cycles, temperature effects, multiplayer, bonus missions, and improved graphics and physics.

What kind of maps are available?

Stronghold 3 features around 12 maps set in different medieval castles and environments in Europe and the Middle East. There is good variety in castle and landscape design.

What types of resources are there?

Main resources include gold, wood, stone, iron, food, ale, and more. Managing resource production via buildings and workers is core to the game.

Is there a Free Build mode?

Yes, Free Build mode lets you construct any castle you want with unlimited resources and no objectives on a variety of maps.


With Stronghold 3, Firefly Studios delivered another excellent medieval castle simulation that builds on previous franchise strengths. Construction, economics, and combat come together in an engrossing loop. Assaulting and defending castles never gets old. New additions like fiery sieges, changing seasons, and competitive multiplayer provide fresh challenges. Even after many hours, you’ll still be refining your castle strategy and defensive tactics. Minor graphical and performance quibbles aside, if you have any interest in knights, castles, and medieval life, Stronghold 3 is an easy recommendation for your library. Just be ready to kiss your free time goodbye for a long while!

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