World At War: Hearts Of Iron IV

By Adam Smith on January 31st, 2014 at 2:00 pm.

My internet connection during the Paradox Convention was about as spotty as Superted’s best chum, forcing me to return with a satchel full of hand-written notes. There’s still plenty to write about, not least my dangerous new Wizard Wars obsession, but buried at the bottom of my inky papers are six pages of scribbles about Hearts of Iron IV. As the latest representative of the one Paradox grand strategy series that I’ve consistently failed to penetrate, HOI IV is an exciting prospect for several reasons. EU IV and CK II are the friendliest incarnations of their respective series to date, and while HOI IV isn’t due until 2015, early signs are promising. At the heart of the Hearts is the most attractive map Paradox have ever produced and a new battle plan system that allows players to evade micromanagement if they so choose.

I don’t have any footage of the map but I did see an early version in operation. Shortly afterwards, a member of the Paradox Development Studio running a game of EU IV asked me what I thought of HOI IV.

“Well, it makes this look a bit rubbish.” It’s true. HOI IV’s day/night cycle, which tracks for longitude, is lovely, but wouldn’t suit the wider timescales of the earlier periods. But it’s the amount of information presented neatly, without the need for switches between map modes, that is most intriguing. For the first time, I can imagine playing a Paradox game with the terrain view active rather than flicking between various political and diplomatic options.

Of course, once all of the political complexity is actually in place, things might change. At present, the demonstration model is designed to show off the new planning mode and it has been designed to replicate the actions of an actual WW II leader, placing arrows from divisional structures to points of attack and defence. A couple of clicks and a flick of the wrist are sufficient to set up the invasion or blockade of Poland, and phased orders are available to organise the timing for aerial support, branching manoeuvres and the like.

Along with the micromanagement aspects, one of the stumbling blocks that’s sent me arse over tit whenever I’ve tried to involve myself in HOI is the claustrophobia of the setting. I like the freedom to act within a time period and WW II, being a rather large and significant event that spans most of HOI’s timeframe, is quite distracting. HOI IV’s AI should allow for more flexibility, although it’s unlikely that the war can be circumnavigated entirely. If I’m allowed to derail history by starting a war in Central America, I’ll be perfectly happy.

It’s far too early for any in-depth analysis but HOI IV is coming and it’s looking dandy.

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26 Comments »

  1. Didden says:

    Hand on Heart (of Iron) I love HOI 3 with the Black Ice mod.

    But lets hope they fix the ship stacking bug in this one, they didn’t bother to fix this awful bug in HOI3 for the past 5 years sadly, although they gradually improved the game in other ways. In short, you’d find enemy AI navies decided to place every ship they ever built into one, mega fleet of utter destruction, which is completely counter intuitive to how naval combat works and becomes less effective the more ships are involved.

    The Air Combat also feels awkward and less useful at present. There is no way for example for an attack on an airfield to destroy planes based on the ground.

    Still, the best and most complex strategy game ever made.

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  2. chuckles73 says:

    You can usually avoid the war if you’re Germany and choose the correct options.
    Like if you spend all your time researching nuclear weapons to bomb, say, Ottawa. . . And you back down from the Polish invasion.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    Let’s hope it won’t be just a dumbed-down version of HoI 3.
    And that they fix navy, finally. And won’t break supply like they did last time. And fix weather. And… I just realized how many “and”s are needed to actually make a significant improvement over HoI3.
    Cause other than that HoI 3 is a lovely game to play, and new flashy engine won’t be enough to make me buy it. Can’t wait for some more details on a game.

    • tattertech says:

      I guess HoI3 has improved a lot? I haven’t really played it much since launch which left me fleeing straight back to HoI2 (and Arsenal of Democracy).

      • Dux Ducis Hodiernus says:

        It still has retarded diplomatic relations that require tons of tiny trades spamming to be used optimally, and still has a broken supply system as soon as anything becomes large enough or has to deal with bigger armies or going through friendly territory. Or just having allies in your territory.

        I remember after annexing half of the soviet union(good half) and doing troop movements, my stacks of supply jumped down to 0 then by giving me literally 10s to sometimes a 100 thousand a day of supply, back to my stockpile, overriding my limit and wasting tons and tons of IC and resources, then next day using up everything and putting my supply down to 0 again. Took some months before it stabilized enough to make any sense, still was completely crazy though.

  4. BobbyDylan says:

    Awwweee YEAH!

  5. Moraven says:

    It was always fun to start as Brazil in HOI2, take over SA, then invade Spain.

    Never knew 4 was in the works. Never had a chance to play 3.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I’m a bit torn about the announcement of this game.

    On the one hand, I am not really interested in HoI IV, because I’ve never liked WW2 as a game setting. On the other hand, this game exerts the same pull on me like all Paradox games I haven’t played. On the other other hand (in this scenario I have three hands), I already spend ridiculous amounts of time with EUIV and CK2, and chances are good that this will still be the case when HoI IV comes out.

    Hm.

  7. Taerdin says:

    I bought Hearts of Iron III and I tried to jump into it. Could not for the life of me figure out what to do or what I should do or even what I could do that would matter or make a difference.

    I had a similar experience with Europa Universalis III.

    I don’t know what it is about Paradox’s grand strategy games, but I hope I can get into Crusader Kings II what with all the praise it gets…

    • Syphus says:

      CK2, and EUIV by the way, are both far easier than HOI3 and EU3 to figure out and get into. If for some reason you had issues with CK2, Sengoku is like “CK2-lite.”

      • Premium User Badge

        Bluerps says:

        I’m not sure if Sengoku helps, if you can’t get into CK2. I played Sengoku for a few hours and gave up. Later I played CK2 and haven’t stopped so far.

        Though it might be helpful for someone who simply likes 16th century Japan a lot more than medieval Europe.

  8. The Random One says:

    Only interested if you can import EUIV saves.

    How come you can’t write without a net connection? Are you using Google Drive (poorly)?

    • Kandon Arc says:

      You won’t be able to import EU IV saves given that EU IV ends 130 years before the start of Hearts of Iron. It’s possible that a potential Victoria III bridges this gap though.

  9. stanonwheels says:

    Seriously looking forward to this, but it’s a bloody good thing it’s happening after I graduate. Don’t think my education could survive another Paradox grand strategy game.

  10. C0llic says:

    As someone who enjoys paradox games, and has lost many hours to eu III and Ck II, hearts of Iron III was one of the few paradox titles that i ended up giving up on. There was just something so incredibly dry about it, and even when I did start to feel that I was getting a handle on the game mechanics, I never shook the feeling that everything was a neverending chore of staring at numbers and moving peices around while I watched a date tick down. It alternated between boring and frustrating me.

    I’m hoping the new installment will be one I can get my teeth into. It looks like a game I should love. Hopefully I will this time around.

    • Jason Lefkowitz says:

      I think the big problem with HOI3 (which I liked, with reservations) was that Paradox had not realized yet when they made it how opaque their game mechanics were being. To enjoy a game like HOI3, you have to be able to learn the system, learn what works and what doesn’t. But when two forces meet in battle in HOI3 you get next to no obvious information why one won and the other didn’t. Was it stacking? Tech? Doctrine? Something else? You have no idea, sometimes even after digging deep through the ledger and other places.

      They’ve gradually gotten better with CK2 and EU4 at moving past presenting raw data to presenting real, actionable information, so my hope is that this will be less of a problem in HOI4.

    • ignare brute says:

      I played a lot of EU3. Then I started CK2 and it killed EU3 for me, because it solved many nuisances of the former. Then EU4 arrived and is quite satisfying, so I’m happy with both.

      However, I tried Hoi 2, Victoria 2 and Hoi 3 and never managed to enjoy them. I always felt there was too much micromanagement to do and not so much decisions to be made. I’ll admit that I probably misunderstood most of these. Sometimes I think I should give another try, at least to Victoria 2 which context should be bit more open than Hoi 3. I wonder.

  11. oyog says:

    So that trailer. Was that…

    The theater of war?

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  13. Bluntsky says:

    I’ve spent over 800 hours in HOI2, more than any other game I’ve ever owned. I tried desperately to get into HOI3, but found that a lot of the gameplay elements I enjoyed in HOI2 had been buried in complex and unwieldy systems. Having played CK2 and EUIV I have a lot of faith in Paradox to overcome these issues with elegant design. They need to find a way to simplify micromanagement without throwing the game away. I miss the tech teams of HOI2 and the tech trees in HOI3 seem like a lot of overworked plumbing. I am hoping that the game will not be so hopelessly and senselessly complicated that I find myself delegating more and more to the AI. The gloomy gray tones of HOI3′s map made for the least esthetically pleasing presentation to date.

    HOI4 needs to define itself better than HOI3. Is it a war game? A 20th century political simulator? A delegation simulator? If the game can basically play itself it starts to find itself in the same broken vein as MOO3.

    • wallysimmonds says:

      Agree with this here – spent more time on HOI2 than probably any game, but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth now (I find it doesn’t run very well on reasonably good systems). I just couldn’t get into HOI3, having tried multiple times on multiple versions (first release and also Semper Fi).

      Like you say, I’ve every confidence that Paradox will pull it off considering how awesome CK2 was. I’ve also got EU4, but having some trouble getting into that as well.

  14. Vernalagnia says:

    I just want them to hurry up and finish HOI3 so they can make Victoria III. And not just a graphical update, there are so many things that need to be done under the hood. Come on Paradox, it’s your best series from a strategy stand point – I don’t care if it’s the worst seller, devote too many resources to it. Make me joyful.

  15. Borsook says:

    Trouble is micromanagement, personally directing each and every division is what I loved about the series, I am afraid the push towards streamlining and simplifying will also make it less deep.

  16. Universal Quitter says:

    I’m with Adam as far as wanting a sandboxy Hearts of Iron IV, but the fanbase around their forums is very much in love with historical authenticity, so assuming that the loudest voices are the ones that are heard, I may come away disappointed.

    If you don’t believe me, read any mod proposal for any Hearts of Iron game on their forums. The first objections are always about Points of Divergence and plausibility. Fuck that. If I want a Brazil that conquers the entire world by 1941, then let me fucking do it.

    But it doesn’t matter. I want East vs West (a cold war Hearts of Iron game). If I can’t break the world during World War II, I can surely do it in the fifty years afterward.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bastimoo says:

      Why don’t you try one of the many many mods out there? There is a reason that paradox titles are so moddable.
      I personally only enjoy HOI 3 with the random HOI modification, which completely changes borders/countires/alliances of the base game