There are a few different ways to take this classic game online to build and fight with other players. As with most older games, it’s a bit tricky to get multiplayer working on Stronghold Crusader, so we’ve laid out the process in this guide.

The easiest methods for playing online

You may be thinking that you can just click that big ‘Multiplayer’ button on the main menu and get cracking, but that’s actually the most complicated way to get a multiplayer session going. Stronghold Crusader uses some ancient methods (DirectX 8’s DirectPlay) for connecting players across the internet, and the newer hardware and software of today doesn’t work very well with it.

Instead, it’s pretty easy to just use GameRanger or a VPN to play Stonghold Crusader online, and we’ve written a guide on how to do that. But, if that shiny Multiplayer button still has your attention, and you don’t mind forwarding some ports in your router and adding firewall exceptions on your PC, then the next part of this guide is for you.

Internet TCP/IP Connection for DirectPlay

You can host a game by navigating to ‘Multiplayer’ and then clicking ‘Host.’ Your friends can join your game from their Multiplayer page by entering your IP address.

But before this will work, you (the host) and your friends that are connecting will need to forward some ports on their routers (unless the router has UPnP enabled). The ports that need forwarded are:

2300-2400 TCP & UDP
47624 TCP only

Everyone playing will not only need to forward those ports, but also add some exceptions in Windows Firewall (you must manually add them, since it will never prompt to ask you if you’d like to add the exceptions).

Open Windows Defender Firewall by typing ‘firewall’ into the Start menu.

Next, click on ‘Allow an app or feature through Windows Defender Firewall.’

Then, click on ‘Change settings’ followed by ‘Allow another app.’

Click browse to locate your Stronghold Crusader executable.

When you finish adding an exception for Stronghold Crusader.exe, you’ll also need to add one for the DirectPlay Server program, located here:

C:\Windows\System32\dpnsvr.exe

With forwarded ports and firewall exceptions configured on each player’s router and PC, joining from the multiplayer menu within Stronghold Crusader should finally work. If you are still having trouble, we’d highly recommend using GameRanger or a VPN.

If you’re determined to make this method work but aren’t having any luck, make sure that any extra firewall and anti-virus that you’re using is disabled (or has the same aforementioned exceptions programmed into them).

Happy playing!