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 The oppressive grey backgrounds of old have been replaced by muted colours, and an adaptive interface that outlines and shades countries depending on your zoom level.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.
Paradox Development Studio
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.
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.
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.
A fun game is to scour through the patch notes for Paradox's strategies, hunting for things that sound funny out of context. A good time can be had by all. Unfortunately, I've not yet sat down to crack open Europa Universalis IV, so lack the necessary context to even parse this massive list of fixes. "Event 'Conservative Backlash' now requires idea divine_supremacy" might sound funny, but what does it mean?
To be safe we'd better stick to the headline features: new vassal options, new map modes, and an expanded peace interface. Also some key cardinal update: "Cardinals now have a far higher likelihood to die as they grow old," and "Cardinals not yet in the curia can now die." Take that, immortal clergymen!
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.
The developers of Europa Universalis IV set out with an ambitious goal: to make their Renaissance-era strategy flagship accessible and intuitive to newcomers without sacrificing the depth and breadth that existing fans of the series love. The end result of this expedition is not only spectacular, but unlike the similarly ambitious explorers and colonists it portrays, it's not going to give anyone smallpox.
What's the point of a grand strategy if not to rewrite history? Paradox's launch trailer for Europa Universalis IV has us cowering at the prospect of a mighty Swedish empire, and its plans to secure global domination through a sneaky backstab to the spine of England. Reality may not yet recognise this particular version of the past, but then reality isn't now available to buy on Steam.
Countries, eh? With their histories, social philosophies and sense of national pride. It's sickening, really. Luckily, Europa Universalis IV lets you beat up countries, by picking bigger, meaner countries to play as. And Paradox have rather kindly extended this opportunity to all, by releasing a demo ahead of the game's release next week. That's assuming you can work out what all the buttons do.
Paradox's in-house strategies are known for their size and complexity. Their official announcements about release times and demo plans, however? Those can be unceremoniously sparse. The latest Europa Universalis 4 dev update, aptly titled "a very small development diary", confirms the game's planned launch time, and teases the possibility of a pre-release demo.
Paradox Development Studio has announced ambitious DLC for Crusader Kings II which will convert your saves from the medieval, Eurocentric sandbox into a playable mod for the upcoming, globe-spanning Renaissance simulator, Europa Universalis IV. Yes, this means that you could potentially play the same faction through over 950 years of alternate history, from CK2: The Old Gods' start date in 867 A.D. to the end point of EU4 in 1821 A.D. I had a chance to grill Henrik Hansson, a programmer who worked on the DLC, on the specifics.
In the latest developer diary for Paradox's upcoming strategy sequel Europa Universalis IV, project lead Thomas Johansson talks imperialism, and how colonising an empire will let you effectively exploit trade routes and grow your land borders without worrying about potentially stronger bordering neighbours. He also explores some of the drawbacks. For instance: the inevitable day when an oppressed populace rises up against their seafaring overlords, symbolically marking their protest through potentially despicable acts. Destroying perfectly good tea would be one (entirely hypothetical) example of such technically justifiable barbarism.
Victory or Valhall! With the release of Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods, the time has come once again to weave a stirring saga of war, love, betrayal, and adventure. This is the Crusader Kings Chronicle: Lords of the North.
This development diary from Paradox runs through the impact of religion in Europa Universalis IV. Given the game's intention to realistically simulate the empire expansion and strategy of the era, I'm sure it'll only be a tiny, insignificant part of the game. After all, when has a ruler ever corrupted religion for their own gain? *Checks Wikipedia* Oh... Oh, wow. Er, you should probably pay attention to this video.