If you're craving some complex grand strategy and have already lead your dynasties to glory in Crusader Kings 3, there's some good news from the PC Gaming Show. Victoria 3, which Paradox unveiled last year, is now expected out in 2022.
As I'm sure you noticed when watching the trailer, Victoria 3 offers plenty of map porn, something it shares with Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings. But the paths you take to dominating the Victorian era and beyond are very different. Victoria 3 is a game of politics and demographics, with class struggles, ideological clashes and social and technological upheavals.
"Victoria 3 follows in the footsteps of its predecessors, but takes the franchise even deeper into society building and management gameplay," game director Mikael Andersson tells me. If you've played Victoria 2, you'll probably have a good idea of what to expect, but Paradox has been busy tweaking its pillars to hopefully give us a few surprises.
With capitalism tightening its grip on the world during this era, naturally the economic system is a headline attraction, but everything in Victoria 3 is interconnected.
"Its overhauled economic simulation models thousands of industries in various levels of technological development, across many dozens of distinct regional markets interlinked by trade routes," Andersson says. "This player-shaped economy determines the livelihoods and consumption of tens of thousands of different demographic segments, which now include not only workers and owners but also their dependents, simulating the economic and political activities of every person on the planet."
Individual politics are reflected by interest groups, like royalists or industrialists, and appeasing or pissing them off will in turn affect big blocks of the population. They can push their agenda through political parties, which represent alliances of interest groups, potentially gaining a great deal of power if they win an election. You'll need to spend a lot of time appeasing, screwing over and generally trying to control your population, but there's also a whole world out there, full of competing nations with their own dominant ideologies, who you'll need to deal with too.
"Diplomacy between nations can take place at varying levels of hostility," Andersson says, "ranging from friendly pacts to belligerent claims that may lead to war—but everything you can gain through war can also be won at the negotiating table." Indeed, while armed conflicts will occur, diplomacy seems like your most powerful weapon. The fear of war is sometimes enough to make foreign powers capitulate, and if the threat of your own army isn't enough, you can always try to bring in other nations to help you bully your adversary into making a deal.
"These mechanics are supported by a modernised user interface, giving the player the data they need when they need it without sacrificing the ability to dig deep into the fabric of your nation through layers of tooltips, charts, and graphs," Andersson says. "And as your nation grows through the Victorian era it will visually transform the map, with growing cities and roads, more modern vehicles on roads, rails and air, pollution and devastation from war, even down to transforming the very soil."
It's a pretty dense simulation, then. And while you wait for it to appear later this year, go and check out the many, many dev diaries—48!—that Paradox has published so far.