Holdfast is set in the Napoleonic era where the English and French are at one another’s throats. People are shouting all sorts of slurs and playing the most existentialist beats over voice chat. It is time to go back centuries and decide the fate of two great nations…again. Arming themselves with standard blunderbusses to nationalistic flags it is up to you to take control the land with might and wit.
The whole experience of Holdfast feels like a complete meme. It is a very surreal experience in what could have been a serious game. A medium in which players could have utilized tactics and a command structure is instead filled with comical clashes of two distinct time periods. If you’re signing up to be part of a historical war simulator you’ve digressed far, far from your hopes.
A Not-so Historical Simulator
Players should expect to find themselves dying a lot. This is not necessarily caused by the overwhelming amount of players on each side per match, no. A large percentage of deaths will be at the hands of your fellow servicemen. Either through sheer dumb luck, you get hit by a friendly, or by the inescapable attempts to distract you through humour. Do not expect to partake in a quiet battlefield no sir. Instead you should expect to hear coordinated dance offs and karaoke with people all around being blown away.
For such a cheap, and so far unfinished, game there’s a surprising amount of diversity. There are a large collection of roles to choose from, each ranging in usefulness. These classes range from riflemen and commanders to flag bearers and musicians. These classes feature a huge variety of weapons, each equally useless but at different ranges. Napoleonic guns were never known for their accuracy.
Holdfast currently has two types of warfare; land and naval. Each type of battle has a couple of different modes, featuring its own objectives. There’s enough variety to keep people interested for an hour or two at a time but not much more than that, unfortunately. At least I found that to be the case when playing alone.
Road to Victory
Due to Holdfast currently being in Alpha it has a lot of fixes to implement, in order to improve how it runs. However, this also means that there’s still a lot to come for those sparring on the battlefields.
Thankfully, Holdfast has issued a roadmap for players to see what features are being worked on and what’s to be implemented down the road. And there are a lot of goodies on the horizon. Amongst these additions, Holdfast is bringing in cavalry, new artillery pieces, weapons and ships. It’s set during the Napoleonic war after all. The cherry on the top of this cake will be a server size increase.
Having the community in mind, Holdfast is also seeking to implement new game modes, including a siege mode. On top of this comes, possibly, the best thing of all; a map editor. This will open up the ever expanding war to new and bizarre frontiers, which is always a good thing.
The weird thing I find about Holdfast is the community. Specifically how joyous it is. In most online games you get the parasitic people just trying to push you down but Holdfast does the opposite. Nobody particularly cares about winning. Amusement seems to be the goal and this is a notion that is completely lost in the majority of games. Everyone’s trying to become an e-sport or be super serious competitive games and Holdfast puts a mirror up to the absurdity of games being too serious.
I don’t have any friends which play the game, despite my brigading about it. This hasn’t stopped me from having a laugh by myself though. While it would undoubtedly be more fun with people you know, the community makes up for that with its cavalier attitude to randomness.
Embrace the Meme
It’s incredibly refreshing to experience a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Opening itself up to the meme it is becoming and allowing players to break the fourth wall. The only downside, besides the inevitable bugs, is that the game may be too focused on community action. As the game is relatively new this means that the majority of servers are empty. This can go on for great periods of time, with only one or two servers being worth the effort.
I look forward to seeing what becomes of this game. I’m very curious as to what the developers and community can drum up for other players. I have a feeling it’ll be a very weird rabbit hole with bagpipes playing and fake French accents scoffing at one another.