Wot I Think: Europa Universalis IV

By Adam Smith on August 13th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Although it’s the fourth game in a well-respected series, Europa Universalis IV has been created in the shadow of Crusader Kings II, which unexpectedly but deservedly discovered a wider audience than its predecessors. As the next game from the internal Paradox Development Studio and a chronological sequel to CK II, EU IV has a weight of expectation upon it. The two games can even connect, covering almost a thousand years of history. Daunting, broad and deep, EU IV is more than equal to its burden. Here’s wot I think.

Here’s what you need to know. If you’re new to grand strategy games, EU IV is an excellent entry point. It’s a more directed experience than Crusader Kings II, providing clarity in terms of short- and long-term objectives without actively restraining the player. If you played CK II for the characters and plots, but aren’t sure whether the transition to a less personal politics will suit you, be assured that EU IV is equally gripping as a generator of narratives, and makes characters of its nations. And if you’re a veteran of the series, rejoice, because this is the strongest and most satisfying entry.

Europa Universalis IV is an enormous game, spanning centuries of history, the majority of the globe, and enough mechanics to fill a thousand pit-stops. I’ve spent more time with various pre-release versions than most games will take from me in a lifetime, and there are still entire areas that I’m yet to explore. I’ve barely touched America, for example, although I have forged an empire that cuts across the heart of Europe, with Scotland and Sweden as its twin crowns. I’ve also spent a lot of time watching as the majestic simulation that drives Europa’s alternate histories creates challenges and tales all of its own. If nothing else, EU IV is at least that rarest of treasures – a long-form strategy game that entertains and engages victors and victims alike.

The world is a playground full of varied apparatus, from the trade routes of Venice to the far-flung conquistadors of Castille, and no single playthrough will involve every toy. Despite the depth and breadth of the setting, EU IV isn’t as daunting and open-ended as it first appears. The player does have freedom to experiment, expand and expire as he/she wishes, but the experience can be far more directed than was the case in CK II, or even previous EU titles.

Core to the structural overhaul that has taken place since EU III is the existence of an extensive tree of National Ideas. These serve as the identifying qualities of a country, providing a sort of personality similar to character traits or skills in an RPG, and they also help to define that country’s destiny. In my first few attempts, I craved the short-term advantages of particular choices too much. That can be fine for a smaller country, carving out an unknown niche and hoping to survive from decade to decade, but my conversion of England into a military powerhouse, simply to cling onto territories during the dying days of The Hundred Years’ War and to end the War of the Roses swiftly, proved unwise.

Because the game begins in media res, there’s a strong temptation to treat immediate problems as permanent problems. That’s not the case. England’s violent opening to the game is a sort of historical accident, and with the right approach and a decent set of National Ideas, constructing an Empire can be an altogether more peaceful affair. As soon as the line of succession has been established and the French have taken their pound of flesh, I found England’s role in the world best supported by naval, trading and diplomatic powers, patrolling and controlling rather than picking fights with neighbours.

My England will not be your England, and both of our reimaginings will deviate from history as time passes. With everything else stripped away, EU IV contains an excellent and robust suite of tools that cater for distinct play styles and will allow experienced players to excel. In that, it is a wholly different proposition to Crusader Kings II, which doesn’t allow for specialisation or the perfection of a style to anything like the extent that EU IV does. This game has missions, which are optional but provide guidance and structure, and almost every nation has some unique quality, whether geographical, scripted or designed, that provides strengths and weaknesses to exploit.

In Europa Universalis IV, I’m inclined to aim for some sort of grand victory, even though long-term objectives are entirely of the player’s creation. There’s a natural drive toward expansion and absorption, aided by the new monarch powers and overhauled rules governing envoys (colonists, diplomats merchants, missionaries). There is less emphasis on money than in previous iterations, meaning the AI is less likely to ruin itself. Inflation and crippling debt are less problematic for the player as well, which is a good thing, allowing for alternate solutions when desperation bites hard.

Envoys are now treated as individuals, active on the map as they go about their tasks. Their number is limited, but instead of running out of actions when money is tight, each specific character can only partake in one action at any time, so must be recalled if a new opportunity arises. This, like so much else that has been reworked in the foundations of the game, provides the player with more meaningful choices to make, and areas to priorities, at any one moment, rather than restricting them due to a lack of resources. One of the mantras behind the game’s design, and Paradox’ wider portfolio, is ‘complex but not complicated’. I’d add ‘less pressure and more possibilities’. EU IV is far from an easy game to grasp, its scope and scale demand a firm intellectual commitment, but it isn’t punishing. Mistakes don’t lead to ruin, and there is pleasure to be found in recovery and redemption.

As the latest instalment of Paradox Development Studio’s flagship grand strategy series, EU IV has a lot to prove. Crusader Kings II found a new audience, showing that people will take the time to learn the ins and outs of an initially overwhelming interface as long as the game within contains incest and fratricide. EU IV moves way from the dynastic storytelling and toward the broader strokes of nation- and empire-building, the mechanics and approach adapted for the period. It still creates stories and those stories still demand to be retold. I call over friends and flatmates, pointing at the changing colours on the map and explaining the previous half century of history, and how it has changed the shape of the world forever. Like a baseball game’s final box score, to the experienced observer, EU IV’s maps tell a complete tale, every conquest and colonist’s expedition leaving a mark.

Crusader Kings II took up more of my time last year than any other game, and every minute was happily spent. It’s continued that streak this year, taking prime position after the release of the Old Gods expansion. EU IV is almost certainly going to take its place, which is fitting, although I expect stiff competition from Rome II. The happy news is that historical strategy games can exist side by side, and nobody has to march under a single banner. The eagles of Rome and the nascent empires of EU IV can co-exist, each offering something different.

In the long-term, I strongly suspect that EU IV will continue to surprise. As with all of the games I admire and enjoy the most, it exists as a series of interlocking systems, each lending strength and variety to the others, and combining to form a simulation that’s almost as much fun to watch as it is to interact with. It’s the historian’s dream, an infinity of possible outcomes that can be outlandish but rarely feel unearned.

EU IV is a fascinating simulation, an alternate history generator, a narrative tool and an entirely successful redesign of a strong formula. It’s also a remarkably entertaining game, in some ways closer to its cardboard roots than it has been for more than a decade, although crunching an abundance of numbers as only a computer can. Volumes will be written about viable tactics for each nation and some of the discoveries will be unexpected, surprising even the developers. They have created a world in flux, though finely poised, and it is here, rather than in city-wide urban murder simulators, that gaming’s lofty drive toward emergence, living worlds and total player agency is best realised.

Solid multiplayer support isn’t the icing on the cake. It’s a separate cake containing more than a hint of fiery ginger. It’ll end up being the more enticing prospect for many players and with a good group, it’s a refreshing experience, full of betrayal and shock, and ending with friendships sundered and vendettas formed. Precisely my experience of ‘sharing’ a delicious cake.

Many more words on this soon, no doubt, including a conversation with the developers and thoughts on the save game convertor, which wasn’t available pre-release. I fully intend to start a game of CK II in the Old Gods period and forge a pagan empire that lasts well into the seventeenth century. Now’s as good a time as any. I’ll be back in a couple of hundred years.

Europa Universalis IV is available now.

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127 Comments »

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  1. Alexander says:

    (I just can’t stop…)

    Has Adam played this with his invisible hand?

    • The Random One says:

      Did he play as Venice so as to gather the wealth of nations?

      • muther22 says:

        I’d assume so, if his Moral Sentiments barred him from playing more aggressively.

  2. Feldgrau says:

    Maybe this is finally the grand strategy that will satisfy me. Previous Paradox games have gotten so close, but a combination of mechanics that are either too arbitrary, too complicated or based on misunderstood history have kept them from providing me with real fulfillment. I wouldn’t say my standards are too high, but that after spending years of my life acquiring a History major I have different expectations and a different picture of how history is made than the average strategy gamer.

    I’ll definitely be giving this a go, though. Great review, Adam.

    • gunny1993 says:

      So a history degree = no job and an inability to enjoy history based games … tough break

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        JamesTheNumberless says:

        Oh come on, there’s no need to be mean. He must be awfully proud of his piece of paper proving his ability to follow instructions, read, and write.

        • Apolloin says:

          “Certificate of Intellectual Orthodoxy”

        • Feldgrau says:

          Hahaha, I am quite proud of my bit of paper actually. Thankfully I did a double-degree with another major is something more useful. Not to say studying history at the university level isn’t useful; some of the analytic skills you gain are especially useful for understanding why things are the way they are. That’s arguably a lot more important than the memorisation and recollection of dates and facts which unfortunately made up a great deal of my degree.

          • Zorn says:

            I hear you. I started out with a love for history, but philosophy was my first choice and another field of study. A friend that started out with me after finishing school together took on history and political sciences, while his love for history never ceased, he later concentrated on the former. He always holds what he learned in high regards. But, as he said, he’s not the kind of person that can make history as a job work.

          • bstard says:

            I approve how you look down at them peasants. Now be gone rabble!

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      JamesTheNumberless says:

      As someone who did history a bit at school and reads Wikipedia a lot, I think I also understand that history isn’t quite played out in real life as it is in videogames. Actually so does probably anybody who’s ever read a newspaper. I’m sure there’s somebody somewhere who thinks the current map of Europe was decided by a bunch of generals sitting down and playing a board game, then popping back home to machine-gun their young men and divide up their lands according to the dice rolls. But I’d like to think that guy is safely locked away in a padded room somewhere and that there’s no need to condescend to him. (except perhaps for medical science)

      Fortunately I also love games. So I’m thankful that they don’t have to try to accurately model real wars or real politics, because otherwise they wouldn’t be any fun to play.

      Tell me, do you keep a risk campaign book by any chance?

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        Stellar Duck says:

        “As someone who did history a bit at school and reads Wikipedia a lot[…]”

        That has almost zero to do with actual history though as an academical field though. Or at least it’s like me saying I know a fair bit about physics because I did it in school and has read on Wikipedia.

        While I don’t, as a history major, have the same problem as he does when it comes to Paradox games, I’ve certainly found myself unable to play Rome Total War without mods that remove burning pigs, hilarious Egyptian anachronisms and Roman Ninjas. That’s basically Call of Duty levels of realism.

        So we all have different tolerances depending on different experiences and what we’ve done.

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          JamesTheNumberless says:

          My point was that just it doesn’t require a degree in history to see the historical flaws in a game, or to have expectations of historical accuracy. Nor does having a degree require one to derive less enjoyment out of a game because of its historical flaws, or expect a game to pursue accuracy if the designers cannot see a way to make a particular aspect of history into a fun game mechanic.

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            Stellar Duck says:

            I agree, on both accounts, but I can certainly also understand the perspective of someone who does find a games depiction of whatever his area of specialty is annoying. I mentioned Rome because I’ve specialised in classical Greek and Roman history so I’m more sensitive in games that deal with that area of history than I am with EU4 or CK2 for instance because my knowledge is much broader and specialised there than in later European history where I’ve a more generalist knowledge with no real depth.

            I also agree that it can never be perfect and it’s silly to expect that. But again, I can sympathise with people who have different thresholds than I do. Someone deeply intimate with, say, politics of the late 1000s might well be put off by CK2. That’s a shame for that guy but I also think it’s a understandable thing.

            Thirdly, god, are you right about the cathedrals. I kinda think it’s the same as with all the white statues in Rome 2 that was mentioned in the recent interview. It annoys me a bit that they’re white but I can understand why and it’s not a big deal to me. Just something I roll my eyes at, as you put it.

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            JamesTheNumberless says:

            The equivalent for me, as a computer scientist, is a whole plethora of movies and TV shows where anything related to programming, or hacking, or even in some cases the most basic aspects of computing and the internet, gets a shockingly bad treatment. But it’s usually for the sake of creating something interesting for a mass audience. And, I’d be lying if I said that as a kid I wasn’t inspired and encouraged by certain films (wargames, tron…) And I’d be lying too if I said I didn’t occasionally see something that really made me cringe or made a scene almost unwatchable for me. Hollywood rules when it comes to all other forms of entertainment too.

            I think, when I play games like Civ or EU, I have to think of them as historical fantasy games, rather than historical simulation. If I played an RPG in which the main character was a citizen in Ancient Rome then I suppose it would spoil it for me a little if I knew the period well and I saw a lot of historical inaccuracies. But then again, since Hollywood Rome (as with Hollywood hacking) is such a well established thing in its own right. I’d probably just have to resign myself to the fact that I was playing a different version of history. So I can understand the response to a historically inaccurate game isn’t so much “how dare they!” as “when are they going to dare to do it properly?”

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          JamesTheNumberless says:

          That said, there are several things that get on my wick in historical games. One of which is that the inside of medieval churches, chapels and cathedrals are so frequently portrayed in historical movies and games as rather plain unadorned places with whitewashed walls and simple alters. Much as they appear to tourists in ruined castles today and not in all their gaudy pre-reformation glory that simply wouldn’t be understood by anyone from this day and age who’s visited an old castle in England or Wales…. It’s not a deal breaker for me, and doesn’t detract from the game. Although I may occasionally roll my eyes and say to myself “oh look another medieval chapel as designed by Nathaniel Hawthorne”

          But less superficially, no game can even possibly hope to get it right when it comes to modelling the movements of people, languages, customs and culture and the idea of nationhood. Nor are any of these things really things that can be represented in any game – but they’re the things which really interest people when it comes to history. History based games have to find some way of gameifying these concepts and it’s never going to be perfect.

          • Feldgrau says:

            Honestly, I don’t expect games to always trend towards providing historical accuracy. Sometimes abstraction is good. However, when you make abstractions in historical games I always think you should do so in order to maintain an authentic tone. Tone, character and narrative are often far more important than what I like to call “brass button” approaches to historical accuracy. Brass buttons here representing the propensity for historical games to spend far too much time concentrating on things like uniforms, weapon statistics, map accuracy, etc.

            I’ve just always felt that Paradox’s grand-strategy games have always been too focused on statistical modelling of historical phenomena at the expense of authentic tone or character. If that makes any sense.

      • iridescence says:

        I have a history degree too and I find it if anything enhances my ability to enjoy these games. Of course I know they’re not 100% accurate but they can certainly rekindle my interest to want to read about certain things in history I haven’t thought of for a while and it’s fun to play around with alternate historical scenarios even if the final result means very little.

        All I ask for in my historical games, like you said, is no blatant and ridiculous anachronism and, Sunset Invasion DLC aside, Paradox delivers that.

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      Cinek says:

      This one isn’t much different. Lots of historical stereotypes and misunderstandings. Few weird and dodgy things (eg. you can erase Albanian culture from the world in… less than 2 years!).

      A huge progress they made is in making an interface usable, and not horrific anymore. You can actually see your territory on a political map quite easily now (unlike in EU3) and most of the stuff is explained well in the game itself. It’s nowhere near as bad and needlessly overcomplicated as EU3. AI also seems to be better than previously. But we’ll see how it goes in long term (flood of day-1 DLCs doesn’t look like a good start)

      • Gormongous says:

        There’s already talk on the forums of how you’re able to turn Nigeria 100% Catholic Portuguese in fifty years. Surely Paradox will take note sooner rather than later.

    • Swiss says:

      Have an History MA and also studied International Relations.

      Cannot say it has diminished my ability to enjoy grand strategy games… If anything it’s improved.

      I do walk around with a rather smug, derisive look on my face at all times however.

      • DerNebel says:

        This seems like the best way to approach it.

        Let it drag you in like history once did. Let it tell you stories about kings and kingdoms that never were, in a world not so much unlike our own. Let it be a teller of stories that you in turn can tell your story to.

        It’s almost history, but not qiute. Like a Star Wars take on our own civilisation.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      That’s nothing. Studying Physics really ruins all space “sims” for you :/

      There is no friction in space god dammit! >.<

      I still love a good star warsy type space battle though.

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        JamesTheNumberless says:

        And this is precisely where I come from when I play history games. Yes some of the mechanics are silly when you consider what the setting is supposed to be but the game is more fun for breaking the rules and twisting the facts. When Eddie Izzard goes off on surrealist ramblings based on misconceptions, or outright made up versions, of history I don’t suspend my laughter in horror at the historical inaccuracy of it all. Neither did I turn my nose up at X-Wing or Tie Fighter because of the wonky physics… Does anyone remember what dog-fighting in spaceships in the realistic space physics engine of Elite 2 was like??? :|

      • Judas says:

        Celestial collisions DO exhibit friction.

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      Lambchops says:

      Really enjoyed CK2, always thought EU was a step too far for me but this review has won me around. I’m too time deficient too wallow in its charms though but will certainly pick this up in a sale once my phd is done.

      PS

      Dear Adam

      Please find some lovely fellow journalists and do a multiplayer diary, another Solium Infernum style tale is exactly what RPS needs right now.

      Your in anticipation

      Lambchops

    • thetruegentleman says:

      I’m a history major too, and I’m not entirely sure what you mean: historians argue all the time about the weight of certain events and people, not to mention the relative merits and failures of each government and culture. At the very least, there is no successful scientific view of history; one that has proven consistently correct without fail. So what makes Paradox so noticeably wrong as to be a turn off?

      Heck, if anything, the games aren’t arbitrary and complicated enough to be historically accurate: nothing quite like having bad weather wipe out entire fleets and freeze armies.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      I love it when I log in to block someone and find I ALREADY HAD. Not as numberless as he thinks…

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      JamesTheNumberless says:

      Thanks captain joyless, you’ve made my day. Don’t go changing that name.

      For anyone who hasn’t blocked me, I found the original history major’s initial post extremely smug and I couldn’t resist. I love history and don’t think studying it is a waste of time… I do think that putting yourself on a pedestal because you have a bachelor’s degree in something is very childish indeed. I work every day with guys with PhDs, and you can always tell who has done the most research because they’re almost always the most humble and the most interested in others’ opinions, and the last to assume they have anything right.

    • Apolloin says:

      As somebody who’s studied history outside the academic setting and also designed games with a historical basis, I think I can say with a degree of certainty that any deviation from historical accuracy is usually completely on purpose due to conflicts between historically accuracy and making a good game.

    • Gormongous says:

      Sometimes I get bummed that my favorite things from my professional field aren’t represented in medieval history games (why does Crusader Kings II condense something as huge and interesting as the Investiture contest into a single event, for instance), but I just play a different part instead.

      There’s so much to know and do, why focus on the parts that don’t work for you? After a snarky forum comment, of course.

    • Feldgrau says:

      I should probably mention it was never my intention to appear smug, derisive or belittling of anybody’s fun.

      I was really just trying to point out how, for me personally, most of Paradox’s grand-strategy games fall into this kind of uncanny valley. I love the Civilization games despite the fact there’s very little actual history there, mostly because they’re abstract enough for me to enjoy the eccentric narratives they form. Paradox games just seem to be intricately modeled enough to draw attention to the mechanics that don’t hit the mark. The less arbitrary some mechanics are, the more they draw attention to those that are more so.

      These are just my personal feelings however, and obviously not everyone is going to agree, regardless of education.

    • ainokmw says:

      I dunno. I have a masters degree in history, and my wife has a phd in history from a world renowned university, and we love the EU series. In fact, when I met her in undergrad and learned she was a history major “have you heard about Europa Universalis” was my ice-breaker line. I’m talking about the first, one (this was back in 2002). We’ve got 1,2 and 3. My wife played CK1, uses the converter to EU2, then converts the save file to Victoria. She’s a big fan. Like I said, she has a phd in history focusing on the Reformation period. But she also recognizes that it’s a game. Perhaps you might want to consider getting over yourself.

  3. BobbyDylan says:

    Can’t
    Frikken
    Wait

  4. dolgion1 says:

    that was quick. Really want to buy it as I fell in love with CK2. But $40 is quite steep for me right now…

    [Edit 15mins later]
    Fuck, I caved and got the game. I’m beaming with excitement right now

  5. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Excellent review, Mr Smith. I’d buy the game now, if I hadn’t already done so.

    Though I have to say, I dread one thing about the game: The decision which country I’ll play!

  6. Bweahns says:

    These type of games are such treacherous time sinks of guilty pleasure. I’m not sure whether to dive in or not.

  7. GernauMorat says:

    Perhaps this is the one that I will finally get into; I’ve always bounced off them before unfortunately. Sounds good.

  8. gunny1993 says:

    Never tried a grand strategy before, think i shall try this one when i’m back at my computer.

  9. InnerPartisan says:

    Like so many others, I’m a recent Paradox convert, drawn in by CK2’s majesty (I tried my hand at HoI2 before, but was simply overwhelmed and gave up).
    What I’m particularly interested in is the savegame converter. Do games started this way really manage to pull off some sort of narrative continuity, if you know what I mean? How are the starting “attributes” of nations determined – nations that do not necessarily have an historical analogue, like the Scottish-Norwegian Empire, or Aztec Ireland?

    • Adam Smith says:

      It wasn’t available with the review code but I do have it now. Going to test it out tonight. I spoke to Paradox about it yesterday and it sounds a lot more in depth than I thought. Coats of arms, names and religions carry across and update, so it’s possible to have a Norse, Pagan empire, or to rebuild some form of Roman Empire and carry it through into the modern era.

      More thought when I take a proper look.

  10. shadow9d9 says:

    This “review” said almost nothing. You liked it, but pointed out no improvements over 3 and pointed out no negatives. It was a fluff piece.

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      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      It’s almost as if it’s… What he thinks.

      • Machinations says:

        It’s still rubbish. It really is. Similar to the Splunky review earlier, or the complete glossing over of the faults in Shadowrun Returns. Something is going on with the WiT quality of late. This one feels ‘phoned in’. I don’t care about the conclusions, I care about how it said little to nothing of substance.

        Usually RPS has high quality writing. This is not an example.

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      ffordesoon says:

      You must be new here.gif

    • Laurentius says:

      Has to agree, Mr Smith is recently my hero on RPS but this WiT is seriously lacking imo.

    • Grygus says:

      I suppose that paragraph that starts with the words, “Core to the structural overhaul that has taken place since EU III…” isn’t available in your geographic region. You also missed the whole part about it being a more directed experience than previous titles in the series, as well as being able to import CK II games. Perhaps you should access the article again using a proxy.

      • shadow9d9 says:

        He mentions national ideas. That is all he says there…

      • Bull0 says:

        And yet, I only barely skimmed this article because I’m not really enjoying CK2 but I still picked up on both those points. Weird.

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      JamesTheNumberless says:

      Oh noe, I’ll see what I can do to help.

      8/10 – strategy geeks will love it but graphics aren’t as good as Crysis.

      Are you ok now?

      • Laurentius says:

        Oh come on now, it’s EU after all. Check how many detailes Mr. Smith pumped into WiT of Brave New World. This one is seriously lacking any details, would it be okey if in Civ5 WiT just leaves it at: “there are some changes though, especially to unit stacking and whatnot, the end” ?

      • shadow9d9 says:

        No, because again, he gives absolutely no details. He likes it for the same reason people liked the previous. He just rambles about how expansive it is… It gives nothing to the reader. Fluff piece. Very disappointing.

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          JamesTheNumberless says:

          I see where you’re coming from and I agree that there isn’t too much detail here. I think this piece is good at attracting attention to the franchise, which is still not exactly mainstream and considering Crusader Kings, is probably the first time a lot of people are going to pay attention to it… Obviously as a fan of the previous games you mainly want to know how it’s different from the last, and I would too. I guess it’s probably fair to assume RPS isn’t the only place you’re likely to read about it, and/or that you probably know what’s going to be new anyway. It’s not a comprehensive summary in the sense that it doesn’t address those differences but it is a good piece if it’s written to draw attention to the strengths of the game as its own entity and not in relation to the others in the series.

        • JustAPigeon says:

          You’re right, unfortunately. I wish Adam would do something more catered to fans of the series.

    • Jeremy says:

      Whoa, the hammer came down hard on this guy. The WIT articles here at RPS are more about the thoughts of the person playing the game, and not a traditional review. There are a lot of places that run the traditional style, but thankfully RPS has moved away from that. I’ve come to find out that I learn more from the thoughts of the RPS writers (and RPS community) than I do from a bullet point list of features, changes, graphics, etc. RPS has sold me on so many games over the years because of this.

  11. Dariune says:

    EU3 was my first Paradox games and remains one of my favorite games (More so than CK2 which I also enjoyed)

    EU4 has a lot to live up to. Can’t wait to play it this eve and see if it delivers.

  12. Laurentius says:

    I tried demo and I didn’t like the changes at all. Game totally went Civ5 route, there no sliders any more, like Civ5 abandoned distributing income though science/ treasure /luxury slider EUIV give away sliders idea. No more government slider options changes, no more economy/science sliders (only financing military remains), everything went as someone nicely described Civ5 in other thread as “filling the bucket”. Sure maybe it’s more accessible now but frankly this is in long run kind of boring and seriously limiting experience in comparison to previous games.

    PS. Oh and I don’t understand why Paradox is bent on keeping absolutely underpowered fortress from EU3, paired with supernatural reinforcement’s makes wars not only super ahistorical but also stupid. In EU2 strong fortress plus winter attrition could hold or even decimate invading army, giving you time to build your own army, in Eu3 and in Eu4 not anymore.

    • Swiss says:

      Won’t somebody please THINK OF THE SLIDERS!?!

      • Laurentius says:

        It’s not about sliders it’s about how “filling the bucket” mechanism is ultimately boring and limiting

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          ffordesoon says:

          Can you explain this “filling the bucket” dealie to those of us at the back of the class? And why it’s bad?

          • Laurentius says:

            It’s like in Civ5 , you just wait, not in turns but in years, cultural quota fullfiled – pick an idea, science quata fullfiled pick am invention etc. You just wait till bucket is filled and then take an action, while “slider” mechanic how stupid it may sound allowed more dynamic approach, of course it also involves time but you could do a lot more things inbetween: there was a need for stabilty- you pump money into stability, you needed better military – forget trade technology, let’s pump money into this, war is going badly and you are sqeezed for cash – go for it, sure it will bring infalation and halt your other progress.

          • Captain Joyless says:

            add up beakers until they reach an arbitrary number -> get a technology
            add up culture until it reaches an arbitrary number -> get a special power
            add up faith until it reaches an arbitrary number -> get a special power from a different list
            add up gold/hammers until they reach an arbitrary number -> get a unit/building
            add up food until it reaches an arbitrary number -> get a new citizen in city
            add up “great people points” until they reach an arbitrary number -> get a “great person”
            add up tourism until it reaches an arbitrary number -> win the entire game

            A couple of those are standard Civilization (notably Food and Hammers/Gold) but previous Civ games used radically different mechanics for culture and religion, and somewhat different for science. Civics and Government types were basically deleted in favor of “building” culture to get special powers. “Commerce”, which used to be a resource that had to be split between gold and science, was deleted in favor of straight gold accumulation and straight science accumulation, with science basically dependent on population and some buildings.

            Tourism is absolutely the worst offender in this regard. I just cannot believe anyone thought it was a good idea. What a lazy design.

          • Premium User Badge

            JamesTheNumberless says:

            Can somebody who isn’t blocked by Captain Joyless tell him that as a long suffering Civ fan I completely agree with him but I still cannot stop playing Civ V.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Captain Joyless – James the Numberless agrees with you and so do I

    • nindustrial says:

      That may be a fair criticism of Civ V, but most of this reads like you’re upset in theory about EU IV without having even played the game (clarification: outside of “trying the demo”). I just ran through the tutorials this morning (yes, I started on EU III), and the removal of sliders does not seem as drastically a move toward “filling the bucket” as you make it out to be; thus, my wondering whether you’ve played it to any real degree yet.

      • Laurentius says:

        Not really, first govermantal sliders are totally gone, which is pretty strong move considering there were essential Eu mechanisc for three current games. ( and i miss them and there is no mechanic to replace them, so no more centralizing or decentralizing countries or looking for middle roud , this is gone ). Then military, diplomacy and admnistrative powers are separate things and also not related to economic income, they work exactly like in Civ5, you gather enough of them and then use them. When in previous instalemnts it was connected mechanism that allowed reactive use of them, now you can have brilliant economy but it won’t change your military power one bit.

        • iridescence says:

          This is a bit of a concern to me. I liked the idea that everything in EU3 was based on money. It meant that if your trading economy was good enough you could be a world power even if you only actually controlled a few provinces. I hope that’s still possible in EU4.

          I don’t know enough about the new systems to comment on them much but I hope they don’t force you to constantly expand your territory as the only route to power.

          The sliders were a pretty cool mechanic as well even if “max centralization” was always a no-brainer. Compared to other things in EU the sliders also seemed pretty straightforward and intuitive to me. “What kind of government do you want?” Oh well, hope the changes work out I guess.

        • nindustrial says:

          That’s a fair point about the governmental sliders, point taken. And I see now a little better where your concern is coming from, and it’s valid. That said, I still (and again, I haven’t played much yet myself) feel like the monarchy points are a little more than filling buckets, though. In Civ, you accumulate tech points until you buy a new tech. But here, the monarchy points in a given pool can be used to do many more things than just take one action, thus forcing you to choose (and to choose more than just which tech). It would be like if building up tech in Civ then let you spend the tech on either getting a new technology, or building something, or taking some technology-related action during diplomacy, or dispatching someone to do something… etc. So yeah, ditching the sliders does divorce things from the state of your economy, but I don’t think it quite reaches the level of simplification that occurs in Civ V.

  13. Leb says:

    fuuuu why do I have to work today.

    When are we doing an RPS multiplayer session? :)

  14. Vinraith says:

    A word of warning to that small minority that cares: all copies are tied to Steam for registration and updates (though they can be run without the client otherwise). This is a first for Paradox-developed titles, as there is no non-Steam alternative whatsoever.

    • Berzee says:

      Dagnabbit.

    • Leb says:

      ’cause it’d be kinda hard to use steam workshop & steamworks without.. you know… steam

      • Premium User Badge

        Cinek says:

        You can make steam workshop as an optional feature.

        As for steamworks – IMHO it was a stupid idea to start with. Really hope that’s the last Paradox game with steamworks.

        • Leb says:

          Steamworks is awesome, I’m looking at the 100s of MP games open for me to join at no hastle at any time and I really hope they implement this into CK2

    • acheron says:

      Are some people still anti-Steam? How is it back there in 2006?

      • Dariune says:

        Good thanks.

        I have never heard of Justin Bieber, I still think Bioware are good, Always online isn’t a major issue, RPS aren’t on a valid but overdone crusade for gender equality and I have just met the woman who will one day be my wife.

        • bstard says:

          Oh the good days where you still could slap you wife and servants around. Today the stick is just gathering dust :(

      • Premium User Badge

        Cinek says:

        2006? You mean: 2013. In 2006 plenty of people were pro-steam thinking it’s next best thing to the wheel. lol
        It changed when they decided to f*** EU and change from a store into the games rental platform.

    • mike2R says:

      I’m usuallly a Steam fanboy, but this annoys me. Must remember to turn off auto-aupdate, must remeber to turn off auto-update…

      Paradox games are long, and patches often break things – especially mod compatibility. Losing an enjoyable game to an auto-applied patch, with no way to roll back, isn’t fun.

      • Vinraith says:

        Just remember, that toggle gets reset every time Steam updates the client, and there are no rollbacks. Good luck!

        For my part, Steam required means “wait to buy it until it’s done being updated” for exactly this reason. That it’ll be $5 for 20 DLC’s and an enhanced version of the base game at that point is just further incentive. Still, it’s a bummer, this will be the first Pdox game I haven’t supported by buying it at launch in ages.

        • Raidhaennor says:

          Making a copy of the game folder and moving it somewhere else (and then launching the game from that copied folder) is probably a better option to avoid unwanted updates.

          • Vinraith says:

            Yeah, I suppose that would work. Steam: Convenience!

          • Raidhaennor says:

            @ Vinraith :)

            I’m with you on the “wait to buy” policy when it comes to steam-only games, I just wanted to give an (hopefully) helpful tip to those interested.

        • Arglebargle says:

          I think Steam finally fixed the ‘auto-update after updates’ issue. While you can’t play til you update, you at least can make a copy of the game in another folder to finish out your on-going campaigns. I still have a 1.06 Crusader Kings II folder, a 1.08 one, 1.091, 1.1, etc.

        • tormos says:

          Note that given Paradox’s approach to patching you will be waiting quite a long while for them to stop patching. The last EUIII patch was four years after the game came out, so I hope you are ready to wait until space year 2017 for your EU goodness.

      • dolgion1 says:

        Was going to wait it out as well, but then decided to get it after all anyway. With all the things we’ve been reading in the media over the last few months, EU4 seems to be the most stable and polished release by Paradox yet. Some even say that it could’ve been released last year, but because of their commitment to improve upon their Q&A they decided to give it more time.

        I still expect some bugs but nothing game breaking.

      • Bull0 says:

        You’re blaming Steam because Paradox regularly release patches that break their saves?

        :( < that's the face your logic makes me do

        • mike2R says:

          Err… no. I was blaming Paradox for making this game exclusive to a vendor who has a generally very useful auto-update system, but one which will periodically break saves in a Paradox game.

  15. acheron says:

    I always want to like Paradox games more than I actually do. CK2 came close but I still couldn’t quite connect with it. I’m sure I’ll give this a go eventually, but I’m hopeful this time.

  16. TaylanK says:

    Comparing EU to Rome under the historical strategy category just feels wrong. It’s like comparing a historical novel to school kids doing costumed roleplay.

    Wait, I actually like costumed roleplay. Dammit! Should have thought this through before posting.

    • grechzoo says:

      100% agree,

      Total War is fun, nice to look at, and has really helped the genre over this generation.

      But the depth compared to paradox grand strategy is like a puddle to an ocean.

    • nindustrial says:

      I’m not sure he was trying to compare them so much as just recognize that under the broad history-based strategy game umbrella, we’ll be getting something also worth being excited about. I prefer Paradox games these days too, but Total War has its place.

  17. jpvg says:

    Yeah I’m really sad that I have to miss this one, I played EU3 for years but a stand is a stand atleast until I change my mind ;) (Steam).

  18. man-eater chimp says:

    I’m 3 Cities and a county away from recreating the Roman Empire in CKII, wait up!

  19. The Random One says:

    I tried the demo at the behest of the Hivemind’s excited gibberings, but if this is the best entry point for the genre it’s just not for me. While I appreciate how the game models stuff like how strong is your king’s claim to the throne, I was constantly overwhelmed and never knew what to turn my attention to.

    • dolgion1 says:

      Have to say I struggled with that issue with CK2 for some time (maybe 40hours?).
      There’s so many things that look like they need your attention, and it’s really daunting, because you don’t have a frame of reference on what aspects to prioritize. In CK2, there’s a lot more granularity in terms of people and their weird names, family trees etc on top of the weird names for counties and holdings. I was overwhelmed.

      So what helped me was to watch people play who knew what they’re doing on Youtube, so you get to see a way of playing and using the interface that works. For example in CK2, you quickly notice that the council is a primary tool to check on. Much of the game is connected to the council, whereas something like the technology tree was less of a priority, so you didn’t feel pressurized to worry about that part of the game too much.

      I’m a newcomer to Europa Universalis, and I’m already familiar with the Clausewitz engine, the general style of interface they use there, and I’m going to watch some let’s plays again. This seems to be the best course of action to get over the initial hurdle it seems. I recommend Quill18 on Youtube.

      Btw, the tutorial isn’t the be all end all that will turn you into a competent player, just like it wasn’t for previous Paradox games. It does ease you in with the interface though, and highlight some parts of the game so you can get more familiar with it. It’s better than in CK2 though, they’ve done some reasonable and necessary improvements there.

    • Baines says:

      People disagree over what the best entry is, anyway.

      Some say EU3 is a good intro for CK2, because EU3 is a more straight war game, while CK2 takes the war game part and adds the complication of individual people to manage. Others say CK2 is a good start because you can have fun mostly ignoring the war stuff while you deal with the diplomacy and management. Some say Sengoku’s sheer lack of features and lack of depth make it a decent intro for CK2, where you can dip your toes into the CK2 formula with a game so shallow that you don’t have to worry about drowning. (Mind, it is nice to find some justification for Sengoku’s existence. Paradox certainly doesn’t care about it.)

  20. derbefrier says:

    Hmmm this just reminded me I have yet to try out EU3 which paradox so graciously gave me for free a while ago. I really should try it outm I just have this issue that when I am in the mood for strategy I always go for CK2.

  21. arccos says:

    As someone who played and really enjoyed CK 2, can someone give me just a bit more about how EU is different?

    I thought the events and CK 2 were a little few and far between and the combat was quite lacking, but the majesty of building the grand multi-generational dynasty was really wonderful.

    • iridescence says:

      CK2 is focused on characters and dynasties. EU, taking place later in history shifts the focus to sovereign “countries” of various types. Your ruler, is hugely important in CK2, in EU the computer picks your ruler for you and he doesn’t effect all that much.

      On the flip side, trade is much more in depth in EU and you have colonization and empire building and the game covers the entire world.

  22. Wednesday says:

    What about combat?

    Still my biggest issue with EU3, which I loved. And CKII for that matter.

    • Isair says:

      Combat is pretty much the same, except they’re a little bit better at providing relevant numbers.

  23. gi_ty says:

    So got in a few hours before work this morning, and I love it! I say this as I adored EU3 but I cant think of one area that 4 is not superior. AI is impressive, I have managed to ally with several of the smaller northern German states. Well Poland decided to declare war and instead of fanning out into many armies and each sieging separate territories (and getting destroyed piece by piece) as in previous game they all sent their troops to my main army and then proceeded to follow me as I won a massive defensive victory against a slightly larger Polish army. The Ai also actively looks for alliances that could benefit them.
    Diplomacy is far more dynamic and intuitive. Worried about that big nasty neighbor? Well you have to commit a diplomat to improve relations, but that removes him from being used for any other purpose. No more dam arbitrary unlawful imperial territory penalty either. A weak emperor means a weak empire. The diplomatic options are expanded and more useful.
    Just some first impressions but I have to say I’m glad I have the rest of the week off!

    • iridescence says:

      Have played a couple of hours now and the jury is out for me. Playing a small one province minor there really isn’t a lot to do at the beginning other than wait for values to hit their magic numbers. EU3 always gave you something you could do with the unlimited alliance and royal marriages and placing merchants all over. Is there any way to focus on one type of technology over the others? Fabricating claims also seems a bit cheesy. I preferred the old way where you either had a good reason to go to war or ate the infamy penalty.

      I don’t hate the game but I can’t help feeling that graphics aside I’d prefer to play modded EU3 right now. Hopefully it will grow on me.

      • gi_ty says:

        You can still spam royal marriages and alliance offers, they’re just not as easy to get. It seems your major technological advances are tied to national ideas. You pick a group and then can either continue down that path or get another idea for different line of advances, they both cost admin power i believe. The claim fabrication lowers overall relations building still though less so than if you just declared war outright, also you can only claim on one province per diplomat so its a very time and resource consuming proposition. I’m playing Brandenburg and its hectic trying to decide if I should pacify the big neighbors or work on absorbing smaller ones.

        • iridescence says:

          From what I’ve seen the game pretty much limits you to 4 royal marriages and/or alliances. You can spam them (like I did in my first game) but it will bring your diplomatic power down to zero pretty quick (each extra one over 4 gives you a penalty I think.) Now that I’m used to it I kind of like the system. It makes you really pick and choose who you want to ally with and the AI also limits itself to 4 alliances so sometimes you find that that superpower you were buttering up is all full (a little gamey but it works).

          The game is growing on me the more I play it…I still haven’t got to the point where my tech has advanced really at all and trade seems kind of weird although I’m sure it’ll make sense eventually but you just have to approach the game a little differently than EU3 I find.

  24. Premium User Badge

    Javier says:

    I never play games in my native language (Spanish), but I still wanted to complain about how little QA the translation has for a game I’ve already heard “could have been released last year”. It’s been the same with every single Paradox release in their long-running grand strategy series. They’re not bad per se, it is about how they translate (pun not intended) into the game. Text overlapping with… everything, paragraphs ending abruptly mid-phrase (mid-paragraph more like), random words left in English, bizarre wording as if the English word order had been left intact, technical gibberish showing instead of actual words (is key strings the name?)…

    Playing EUIV or CKII in Spanish is a huge headache in comparison to English. The overall impression is of very buggy software released too early, precisely the opposite of what it is meant to be. And it shows very little respect to their very large Spanish community, and others if this is the case with the rest of official translations.