Crusader Kings 3 has done away with the static, horrifying avatars of its predecessor, replacing them with full character models that are ever so slightly animated. I'm smitten with them and can't believe we had to go without for so long. And thankfully they're still a bit horrifying.
In keeping with the latest sequel's stronger RPG leanings, the cast of courtiers, priests, nobles and monarchs are now bursting with personality that they exude physically. Events in particular benefit from this, displaying one or more characters wearing their emotions on their sleeves.
I've always been a big fan of feast mishaps, and nobody in Alba will forget the great Sea of Stew disaster of 916AD. Look at poor Crinan, stunned by all this wasted meat. He's flabbergasted. He never quite recovered, though that might have had something to do with the poison my assassins fed him a few months later, for unrelated reasons. OK, not that unrelated; I was really excited about that stew.
There was one thing I respected about Crinan, and that was his well groomed beard. It had nothing on some of the other beards I've enjoyed staring at, however, as Crusader Kings 3 is overflowing with fantastic facial topiary. Viking rulers in particular, like my own above, get magnificent beards, even if some of them are obvious fire hazards.
Another excellent beard here, this time attached to a greedy pope. Popes are always doing stuff like this, but at least Pope Martinus looks suitably ashamed, and also maybe a wee bit cheeky? Oh, you. I obviously condemned him, but it was mostly out of jealousy. How dare he enjoy fine meats and cheeses while I have to eat stew off the floor when I attend a feast. Unacceptable.
There's a lot of hanky panky in Crusader Kings 3, and thanks to the intrigue system some of these affairs get made public. Ingfrid's clearly not too happy that her affair has been discovered, but what about me? I'm not pictured, but you can safely assume I'm crying. And look at creepy Alfgeir—what does he have that I don't? Aside from being related to her. The scandal! The drama! It's Eastenders with swords.
While some events are self contained, plenty of them spin yarns that develop over time. It's the same with the character models, which change as they age, get injured and catch diseases. It's not that obvious that Dub-Essa here is pregnant, but if you look closely you will see that there's something rather unpleasant going on with her lips. I wonder where she could have caught that affliction…
Oh right, my bad.
This STD ended up spreading throughout my extremely horny court, to the point where every single event was accompanied by a character who was clearly rife with herpes.
Thank goodness that a plague hit the kingdom, covering up my misdeeds by turning everyone into zombies. Paradox has gone all out adding disease effects, cuts, scars and other injuries, which can be a bit shocking when an event pops up and you weren't expecting to see someone's nose slowly falling off.
Even less dramatic afflictions show up on the character models. High Chieftess Aldona, for instance, was an irredeemable lush, swigging booze like Ragnarok was imminent. To be fair, she had a lot of stress to deal with, and hitting the tavern is one of the ways characters can try to deal with it, along with visiting the brothel or enjoying the occasional brisk jog.
As a result of the details character models, I have been feeling a lot more guilty about killing off minor threats to the realm. It's not as easy to sign off on letting a child get eaten by wolves when they're just standing there, being chubby and stuff. That's not including Cecilia, however, because she can go to Hell. She actually survived childhood, unfortunately, and continued to bully me when we were adults, becoming my main rival until she died bravely defending our people from invaders. Who's laughing now Cecilia? Not you, because you're dead.
Nobody made quite the impression that Labraid did. There's the event itself, of course, which led to me joining him in being aroused by leather shoes—but more importantly, what the heck is going on with his junk? He's just a fascinating dude. The puffy cheeks, the little moobs, the nub sticking out of his crotch—I still can't take my eyes off him. We became friends for many decades.
The character models make Crusader Kings 3 feel more like a soap opera, but there are also practical benefits. It's hard to remember anyone's name, especially after you've been playing for hundreds of years, but there's usually some physical trait that ensures they'll stick in your mind. The sheer number of them means that you'll end up seeing a lot of the same helmets, beards and hairdos, but the way they're combined typically creates a distinct character. And they're all great.