My perception of time has gone haywire over the last year, so I couldn't tell you if Crusader Kings 3 launched recently or a million years ago, but it does feel like it's been the right length of time for some DLC to make an appearance. There's even a placeholder Steam page for it. Paradox has been keeping schtum about what's hidden away inside 'Expansion Pass 1', but that's about to change.
The developer will spill the beans on the first expansion and accompanying free update on March 13, during its Paradox Insider event. There are fewer obvious places for it to expand compared to Crusader Kings 2—it's a big lad—but that hasn't stopped me putting together an expansion
list of demands wish list. So while we wait for the announcement, here's what I want from Crusader Kings 3 DLC.
Knights are one of CK3's big new additions, beefing up warfare (and its stakes) with hard-as-nails warriors who also hang out at court. They're great, marrying two normally disparate layers—warfare and courtly intrigue—and increasing the risk if you throw your army into an unwinnable battle. But they could be even better.
In battle, they're significantly stronger than either levies or your professional troops, but they don't really change how battles play out beyond just making your force more deadly. I'd prefer more options than just a straight power boost. Some advanced battle preparations, maybe, or a few tricks I can deploy during fights or sieges. Back at court, I wish their status as knights had more of an impact, and affected events involving them in more obvious ways. Right now, they're just like any other member of your court, which means they've slotted in comfortably but are just too indistinct.
This is probably too focused for a whole expansion, but improved knights could be part of some military-themed DLC, which would also be very welcome. I'd like to get just as excited about getting stuck into a fight as I am when I'm plotting another family member's grisly demise.
CK3's pretty big. Massive, really. Even larger than CK2, thanks to the scale being kicked up a few notches. There's still room for more. The eastern edge of the map is conspicuously torn, offering a not-so-subtle hint that Paradox has already got some plans for East Asia. More dynasties, cultures, clothes for my royal wardrobe—there's a lot to mine in an area this large.
Jade Dragon, the CK2 DLC, introduced China as an off-screen influence and threat, spicing up the east without expanding the map or adding East Asian dynasties. With it still came new trade and tributary systems, as well as the perpetual risk of being trampled by Chinese troops. This time, though, I'm hoping I'll finally be able to become the Emperor of China.
We can expect the map in general to evolve quite a bit. The next update, 1.3, will make changes to Italy and Ireland, changing the number of counties and holdings, and winter weather effects are also being added to the map. These will be introduced in the free update that launches alongside the first DLC.
Free the governments
This is probably something we'll see expanded over the course of multiple expansions. The vast majority of features added to CK2 over the years have made their way over to CK3 in some shape, but the number of government types took a bit of a hit. Empires like the Byzantine Empire and Holy Roman Empire don't feel quite like the unique entities that they really were, and if you fancy getting rich as a Venetian doge you're shit out of luck. Nomads didn't make the cut, either.
Playing a big empire is still a significant departure from ruling a tiny kingdom, even if they're both presented as feudal, but there is still so much room to make them feel more distinct. CK2 already offers a foundation for plenty of governments and unique systems for the likes of the Byzantines, so I'd be surprised if most of them didn't return in some form. A lot of them were originally introduced through CK2 DLC, and while Paradox says it doesn't want to repeat itself when it comes to DLC, additional governments could still be included in expansions with new themes.
I've explored CK3's lifestyle trees pretty thoroughly now, so I quite fancy some new branches, or even some whole new trees, to work my way down. On those occasions where my ruler doesn't die before their time, I often find myself grabbing all the perks that suit the character long before I'm done, leaving me picking perks that, while they certainly come with a mechanical benefit, don't fit my ruler as well. A good start might be more flavour options, which might not necessarily come with a major benefit, but offer up more roleplaying opportunities. That could keep me focused on one tree for longer, without contributing to power bloat.
The lifestyle system sits at the heart of CK3, but it's supported by lots of traits and character-defining personality quirks, so why not throw more of them into the pile, too? More personality types, more reactions to stress, more traits that appear through events—basically, I'm yearning for more of that lovely RPG character progression.
But let's go bigger. Not just richer progression, but more ways to express your character as well. CK3 is essentially The Sims of grand strategy, so why not let us decorate our castle a bit, unlock new clothes and give us some possessions to hoard? I'm not expecting some kind of castle editor, but a throne room screen with bits to customise and interact with would keep me content. And hey, if Paradox wants to let us build some custom castles, I won't complain.
While Sunset Invasion is perhaps the weakest and definitely the least essential of CK2's DLC, I am absolutely all for Paradox creating ahistorical oddities like the Aztec invasion of Europe. While the series is firmly grounded in history, it's often at its best when it loosens up a bit. Monks & Mystics is even more unusual, introducing cults, magic and demons to the medieval sim, but with all those things comes a host of engaging systems that spit out countless yarns and all sorts of unexpected paths for your ruler to head down. It goes beyond novelty and has a transformative effect on the game. That's what I want from my weird DLC—something that goes all in.
I'd also accept a sequel to CK2's ridiculously elaborate hidden mode, Animal Kingdom. Give me more wars between hedgehogs and dragons, Paradox. Speaking of animals...
Let me pet the dog more
You can get a pet in CK3, and playing with it relieves stress. But you can't just choose to play with it whenever you want; obviously this is a grave injustice. Sure, you might think that petting a dog really could just be a wee patch, but why stop there when we can have a great big pile of pet-themed activities and systems.
Really, I'm just hoping Paradox gets creative with its flavour packs. The first two already have Steam pages, without any information on them, and they'll be smaller DLC based on a specific theme or region. They'll probably include new outfits, character models and army appearances, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for more than just cosmetic additions. If not more pet stuff, a lot of region-specific events and storylines would be an acceptable consolation.