by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
Some of us here at Hooked Gamers are bigger nerds than others. Some of us are even secret nerds, preferring to wear Battlefield T-Shirts in public to indicate that we are gamers, but not the super nerdy kind. I must admit, I’m not one of those nerds. I love every kind of game, regardless of the social stereotype assigned to it. We love the Europa Universalis series for its depth of strategy, focus on historical accuracy, and the dedicated community it has built around it.
Europa Universalis is a grand empire building game which focuses on everything from trade and diplomacy to pan-European warfare. The original game was based on a board game, but a lot has changed since then. You will be able to play as any nation in the western world and conduct yourself as you wish within a historical context sensitive environment. History is of prime importance to Paradox and sets the character of most of their games. History often makes for a more unbelievable plot than fiction does. Europa Universalis III was released 5 years ago, and although it has been updated multiple times through patches and expansions, it is high time for a complete overhaul. With the release of Europa Universalis IV, the game will be completely updated, from code to texture.
Monarchs and Advisors
The game is province based and as stated before you will be able to play any nation of the time. The games starting and ending times have not been finalized yet, but it will last from somewhere in the 14th century to the 17th. It has been described as a historically accurate sandbox game in a way that it starts out exactly as things were and the player’s actions will be responded to based on other countries’ personalities. A lot of choice is also present as the player can choose to follow a historical path, such as playing Aragon and working his way towards the unification of the Spanish Empire, or take it a completely different route, creating a Mediterranean power in its own right.
Visually, the game has been drastically improved. The graphics engine used in Crusader Kings 2 is used and Thomas Johansson, Paradox’s project lead on Europa Universalis IV, stated that with the release of Crusader Kings 2, a new standard has been set for the studio when it comes to their games’ level of polish. The interface has also been overhauled. Seasonal effects have been added and the colours of foliage changes as winter comes creeping. Small visual tweaks such as seagulls flying around ships when they are close to the shore add a level of visual realism not present in their previous titles. Needless to say, this game is a big aesthetic step up for the series.
The personal characters of monarchs and their advisors have been given enhanced weight and the countries themselves will no longer have personalities of their own. Monarchs will generate points depending on their diplomatic, administrative and military power and they will be able to purchase national ideas that set the character of the nation. Do you want a conscript or professional army? A naval or land power? Traditional explorers? These are just a few of the things that can be bought with power points. Your monarchs will also have differing bonuses. You may have a monarch that is a very good military leader and base your whole game on that fact. His successor may well not be as strong as him, forcing you to adjust your gameplay to the new monarch. This does not only bring a new level of complexity to the game, but makes it more fluent. The game will not be won long before the victory conditions are met as a lot can change in a short amount of time. Advisors will, of course, still be present to boost the stats of the monarch in areas in which he’s not too proficient.
Trade and Navy
Europa Universalis IV will feature thousands of pre-programmed historical events. A unique trigger and effect system will be introduced which gets the player in the middle of a context sensitive, historically accurate world. When you conquer an island, for example, the reaction of the other monarchs will be based on historical data of their actions in similar situations.
The trade system has also been completely overhauled. Multiple map modes will help the player keep an overview of every aspect of his game. The new system includes trade nodes which will direct the flow of trade and your objective will be to have the trade flowing towards your state. Merchants can be sent to valuable trade nodes in order to strengthen the player’s position in that area: they are an important strategic resource.
Navies and fleets have also received more weight in importance. This time around, navies do more than just transport troops from one land area to the next. You will be able to assign naval trade patrols to strengthen your position in a particular province. Your enemies can then respond by sending their own patrol to blockade yours. Trade powers can therefore be just as powerful as military ones.
Strategy at its finest
Send explorers to settle colonies in America or Africa or dig yourself down into the finer points of European diplomacy. Europa Universalis IV will be the personification of grand strategy at its fines. Play any country in the western world and write history with your own pen. You could also use a sword. Perhaps that’s quicker.