Back to World War 2 we go, for some intense, detailed, slow-burn strategy. The Hearts of Iron series has typically been a daunting prospect because, well, look at it, but the fourth entry will be different. A buff 3.0 edition of the Clauswitz engine powers the sandbox. The oppressive grey backgrounds of old have been replaced by muted colours, and an adaptive interface that outlines and shades countries depending on your zoom level. A night/day sine wave washes slowly across the map, separating the brushed iron surface into sunlit and blue moonlit zones. The units are no longer featureless rectangles, but tiny models that can be guided around with multi-phase battle plans. These are sculpted with stretched, curving arrows and broken lines, depicting troop movements and battle lines respectively. I'm surprised Paradox haven't put out any screenshots yet; this is a very inviting strategy game.
Crusader Kings 2 models the hopes, jealousies and paranoid plotting of around 30,000 unique actors, scattered throughout the troubled hierarchies of medieval Europe. From their varying positions of power, they marry, breed, wage wars and bump each other off with splendid selfishness. It's a pioneering sort of grand strategy soap opera, and it's about to get thousands of extra cast members.
CK2's sixth expansion, Rajas of India, will grow the map by 50% and add 400 new provinces, each with their own cabal of commanders, advisers, vassals children to be traded for political advantage. The rulers of India are mapped to three regional religions, which convey unique socio-economic boons upon their adherents, affecting their war-readiness, stability, and research competence. There's a new set of regional events to reflect the local festivities of the era, new jungle terrain and, inevitably, war elephants. It's plenty to be getting on with, but the most impressive thing about the expansion so far is how much of it Paradox are giving away for free.
Last week, Miami was subjected to an unlikely Scandinavian invasion, as Paradox - along with their horde of strategy fanatics - descended for the annual Paradox Conference. It was the new games - Hearts of Iron 4 and Runemaster - that made the biggest impact during announcement day, but expansion packs for the studio's two big strategy games were also announced. One of them, Europa Universalis 4's upcoming Wealth of Nations DLC, has now been explained in more detail.
Paradox have blown their conference's announcement horn, summoning a horde of new games and expansions to the sweltering shores of Miami. But have those games arrived by longboat, frigate or submarine. Actually, it's all of the above, with their upcoming catalogue covering the full breadth of their internal Development Studio titles. As well as the expected expansions for Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis 4, they've revealed the existence of the long-awaited Hearts of Iron 4. If that weren't enough, they've also announced a brand new Norse-inspired RPG called Runemaster.
America is kind of a big deal these days. Maybe you've heard of it? Maybe you're even inside of it while reading this. If so, watch out for the cougars.
For Paradox Interactive, the country's fame has posed something of a problem. Conquest of Paradise, the first expansion for Europa Universalis IV, is all about the discovery and colonisation of the new world. Only, you can't discover something if you know where it is. How they've solved that is the subject of their latest video diary, which explores the new random map generation that means you never know just what you'll find when you finally cross the Atlantic.
Paradox Interactive today announced that you can pre-purchase the expansion for Europa Universalis 4, Conquest of Paradise, for $15. The expansion, available on January 15, will allow players to explore and conquer a randomly generated New World continent modeled after the Americas, and greatly enhance the way you play as Native American and Colonial States. Paradox Development Studio Manager Johan Andersson delves into the latter in the latest development diary video.
You see folks, this is why April Fools' Day is dangerous. Or awesome. Delete depending on your affinity for zombies. Back in the dark ages of seven and a bit months ago, Paradox Interactive released a teaser for a fictional Crusader Kings Z, a game that hypothetically merged zombie invasions with medieval European strategy. Months later, and that joke is now a real thing that you can play in Crusader Kings 2. Thanks mods!
The danger for 4X strategies is that, inevitably, they'll be compared to Civilization. Although, to be fair, many games are openly inviting that comparison. Galactic Civilizations, which yesterday released its own set of screenshots, contains the word "Civilization" in its title, for instance. Then there's the fantasy 4X, Warlock 2: The Exiled, which has successfully differentiated itself by name, if not entirely by look. Judge for yourself, by browsing the game's first selection of screenshots.
Thanks to a slip of the finger, I'm now thinking about the game Crusader Kingz. I imagine it would be a grand strategy in which you formed a hip-hop collective and, through bribery, intrigue, and sick rhymes, conspired to bring down the So Solid Crew. I would play the heck out of that game. As it turns out, though, this development diary is more concerned with Crusader Kings 2 and its Sons of Abraham DLC. Where the last video concentrated on changes to Christianity and Papal politics, this time Paradox explain their Jewish and Muslim mechanics. That's mechanics as in game systems.
With the Sons of Abraham expansion for Crusader Kings II arriving next week, the medieval strategy sandbox will also receive the massive 2.0 patch. Heralding the arrival of what Paradox Development Studio calls "phase two" of the game's expansion and DLC cycle, 2.0 has one of the longest change lists of any patch the game has ever received. In addition to Steam achievements, workshop support, Ironman mode, and the replacement of the dismal metaserver-based multiplayer, the patch notes are also laden with the usual, hilarious-sounding fixes you only find in Crusader Kings.
Oh, it's about the Abrahamic religions. I had entirely the wrong end of the stick. I'd assumed Sons of Abraham would transform CK2 into a game in which you played as Tad Lincoln - fourth son of Abraham - running around the White House and getting into comedy scrapes. Come to think of it, an overhaul of Christianity, and the introduction of playable Jewish characters, makes a lot more sense for the medieval grand strategy soap opera. A new development diary provides a complete overview of what Paradox hope to achieve with this latest expansion.
Europa Universalis 4: Conquest of Paradise announced, will allow exploration of a randomly generated American continent
Look what you've done, strategy fans... you've forced Paradox Interactive to deal with an actual paradox. They want the newly announced Europa Universalis IV expansion, Conquest of Paradise, to focus on the then-unexplored American continent. But then along you come with the bare-faced tenacity to be from the future, thereby knowing all about where America is and what's on it. Luckily, the developers have a clever plan to make your playthrough of the era seem more historically accurate. They're going to make stuff up.
Paradox Development Studio has just announced the fifth expansion for Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham. Two long-requested features, playable Jewish characters and the ability to interact with the Catholic college of cardinals, will make their way into the medieval murder your brother and steal his stuff simulator. The ability to part the seas and march your armies through has yet to be confirmed, but quite a bit else has.
Magicka Wizard Wars, the free-to-play game I once described as a game of Dota 2 in which everyone on both teams is playing Invoker, is now available on Steam Early Access. You can claim your spot as a founder in this arcane altercation with three different tiers, starting at $13. Jumping in at the $20 tier gets you a free copy of Crusader Kings II, which is half of that game's current Steam price.
Indie roguelike shooter Teleglitch: Die More Edition's new Guns and Tunes DLC tells you exactly what it is: "Music to kill by and weapons to make it happen." And for only $2, it's probably a reasonable investment in a game where death is permanent, levels are random, and every pixel works to promote anxiety and paranoia.
Damn those pesky wizards! Warlock 2: The Exiled was announced towards the end of last week. Unfortunately, due to a troublesome cloaking spell, it passed us by unseen. That is definitely what happened, and in no way can I be blamed for missing the news of a follow up to fantasy turn-based strategy Warlock: Master of the Arcane. With that disclaimer made abundantly clear, let's take a look at the announcement trailer.
Paradox Interactive has weighed in on the recent announcement of SteamOS, and with a very positive attitude. CEO Fredrik Wester called it a "great thing for PC gaming," and confirmed that the publisher fully intends to support it going forward. Titles like Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis IV, which already have working Linux versions, will run natively on the new OS.
Closed alpha news is a bit of a double-edged axe - one that's often found buried in the skull of a person who really wants to participate in the limited access test. For War of the Vikings, though, Paradox are guaranteeing access to the alpha for anyone who owns Fatshark's previous historical first-person slasher, War of the Roses: Kingmaker. That alpha is due to start in a couple of days time, on August 22nd.
As good as Europa Universalis IV is, if you're new to Paradox's information dense strategy games, you may be put off by the continued bombardment of stats and figures. And there's little more demoralising for a nation's army than being forced to wait around while there leader learns who they're supposed to be attacking. Understanding the benefit of patiently explaining their game, Paradox have released a series of tutorials meant to get you up to speed.
Two weeks ago, we interviewed Paradox Development Studio on the new converter DLC that lets you import your version of medieval Europe from Crusader Kings II into Europa Univesalis IV. Now that the DLC is out, we went hunting for some of the less than historically accurate groups and nations that can be carried over. From Viking holy orders to a restored Roman Empire, here's how they pan out in EU4.