History Completing Itself: EU IV And CK II Still Growing

By Adam Smith on August 18th, 2014 at 8:00 am.

I don’t think I’d mind if Crusader Kings II received fresh DLC for the next twenty years. Judging by the latest announcement, which I witnessed live at a fan gathering/press conference at Gamescom, the greatest medieval strategy RPG-sim of all time might soon be simply the greatest historical RPG-sim of all time. The upcoming Charlemagne expansion brings the possible start date ever closer to the classical era, with the option of beginning play in 769 AD to follow the life and times of Big Chuck. EU IV is also set to expand, to the beat of a warlike drum.

Ridiculous Adam fact of the day – that music sends a shiver up my spine and goosebumps down my arms.

The Europa expansion is called The Art of War and the strangest thing about it is that the game still requires any attention at all given that it has covered the greatest works of man. That particular piece of DLC is probably the closest thing I’ll ever have to a dedicated biopic.

For those who prefer the blast of a musket to the kerching of a cash register, the Art of War contains the following:

30 years War: Unique mechanics and events for the religious conflict that ravaged Europe.

Napoleonic Era: Fight for or against the revolution and create entirely new custom client countries on the map from your conquests.

Fighting on land or at sea: You can now sortie from sieges, transfer occupation to allies and give objectives to your subjects and allies. Entire Fleets can now be upgraded with one click, you can now mothball fleets to avoid paying maintenance, and your fleets can be set to automatically transport armies.

Marches: Turn your vessals into bulwarks against your enemies, getting less tax but strengthening their defences.

Improved Diplomacy: Sell Surplus Ships, Fight for your subjects CB, Declare War in Support of Rebel factions in other countries and new peace options.

Gameplay Enhancements: Build entire armies in one click and abandon cores that you no longer wish to support.

Free Features for the accompanying patch: Completely new rebel mechanic, local autonomy on province level, new cardinal system for Catholics, new reformation mechanics and a new look map.

As for CK II, alongside a ‘story event series’ for those who choose to play as Charlemagne, the expansion will include a new season/climate system, an Annual Chronicle, and customisable kingdoms and empires.

I reckon there’s more chance of Crusader Kings covering the classical Roman era itself than a sequel to EU: Rome appearing at any point. That didn’t stop Shams Jorjani, Paradox’ acquisitions guru, from emerging onto stage wearing a Europa Universalis: Rome II t-shirt during the press conference as announcements were promised. The demand for the game and its absence from all release schedules has become a running joke and the only way I can imagine the t-shirt being topped is by means of a series of leaked teasers and a fabricated appearance in the Steam database.

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36 Comments »

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  1. hjarg says:

    That, my ladies and gentlemen, is how a DLC should be. Fun, makes a better gameplay, adds something completely new. And as a bonus- it is completely optional. You can play the game without it just fine and you even get some of the upgrades for free.

    • jonfitt says:

      I love the way they patch the important mechanical changes in to the game for everyone. It’s absolutely the right way to do things. Can you imagine how much better Civ and the Total War games would be if they had this attitude of keeping the main game alive and adding content instead of loading “fixes” to bad mechanics into expansions only!
      Napolean TW’s ideas should have been put into Empire, and by golly Rome TW should have had that squalor problem revamped.

      Also they continually put the whole shebang on a good sale (especially around the time of a new DLC release) so you can pick up all the less interesting DLC for peanuts.

  2. Chalky says:

    Super excited about this. I hope it’s a bit more stable than the India expansion was at release – that expansion was bugged to the point of unplayability until the first few patches hit.

    By the way, I’m not sure the first sentence of this article makes any sense at all.

  3. Jools says:

    Man, you aren’t alone with the music at all. I think it’s ultimately made me feel more of these weird emotion things while staring at a map than a million overproduced cutscenes ever have or will.

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      Bluerps says:

      I don’t have anything against overproduced cutscenes, but I agree on the music. Especially when I haven’t played CK2 for a while (I tend to return to it every 4-5 months), I get goosebumps when I see the initial loading screen and the music starts.

    • Danley says:

      It’s weird both of you would say this about the theme song specifically, because they seem to be doing some voodoo in their trailers in general. I clicked on this article knowing I’d gotten a buzz from the atmosphere of the last few DLC trailers for CK2. Like almost drug induced relaxation.

    • P.Funk says:

      I don’t understand why this music still affects you guys. At first it affected me, but after several hours of hearing it over and over and over and over and over I can’t stand it anymore. XD

      I also refuse to pay for music DLC. That is a de jure border too far.

  4. Meneldil says:

    Charlemagne = badass. Cause France and Germany together can’t go wrong.

    At least, when it doesn’t go very wrong.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    I’m really excited about this. The Carolingian epoch and the Thirty Years War are two of my favourite eras of European history. Although I worry about how playable Charlemagne is. That Francia looks really op if it ends up one massive de-jure empire, second only to a restored Rome. Maybe they actually make managing a large realm actually interesting? If not then you just end up being an eternal superpower even sooner into the timeline. I suspect other starts will be more interesting. We should now be able to play from the very beginning of the Viking period which means Rgnar Lothbrok should be available. Pagans should be available in the German parts of the Frankish realm, most likely including the legendary Widukind. I wonder how it will differ from the Nordic version? In Persia the last remnants of Sassanian empire should still be around even if their position is not any better than in the other starts considering the Abbasid caliphate should be enormous at the beginning of the DLC. Still, there should be more Zoroastrians in general.

    • Isair says:

      769 is roughly 1 year into Charlemagne’s reign, so Francia should normally start a bit smaller than the trailer shows.

      • Premium User Badge

        Bluerps says:

        Yeah, the de jure territory of the Empire of Francia at the game start is probably (compared to the 867 start) something like most of France, half of Aquitaine, most of Lotharingia, and parts of southern Germany and Frisia – if there even is an Empire of Francia. Maybe you have to create it, with the new custom kingdom/empire mechanics.

        It’s even possible that most of the usual de jure empires (and maybe even some kingdoms) don’t exist in the new start, and have to be created (or not). That’s wild speculation on my part, but the custom kingdoms are the aspect of the DLC that got me most excited.

    • TC-27 says:

      I find managing large Empires really difficult in EU4 – cant ever seem to stop all my vassals hating me.

      • hjarg says:

        In CK2 you mean?
        Well, raise a good Emperor as your successor. Good traits and all that. Maintain maximum holdings, strong standing force and as much upgrades holdings as possible. Stewardship is your most vital stat, then diplomact, then rest. Basically, you are either discouraging vassals from rebelling or if they do, you are strong enough to crush them before things get out of hands.

    • Just a Sean says:

      They’re actually doing their darnedest to make huge empires a more interesting proposition.

      TLDR:
      -As befits pre-feudal times, most of Charlemagne’s German territories will be tribal vassals. That means no guaranteed levies.
      -There’s a new inheritance scheme called “elective gavelkind” that will make for extra crumbly empires.
      -There’s a new limit on the amount of vassals you can hold. The limit decreases as your crown authority increases. Now you’ll actually have an incentive to hand out those duke and king titles.

  6. kshade says:

    Coming from Civ (2 and 5) and other 4X/Strategy games, I don’t get why CK2 is considered good.

    Just looking at the DLC list makes me cringe. They want you to pay extra for civ-specific unit models, music and portraits? Expansions don’t even come with this stuff either, you gotta pay some more if you want your Middle Eastern units to actually look different on the map. What the fuck. Do they really have to nickel and dime what other games do for polish? To me this is outright unacceptable.

    I also don’t see the depth, at all. You can do some extremely basic decision making/”RP” at times but are restricted in what you can do by arbitrary rules that should not be enforced by the engine. The whole Cassus Belli thing for example, why do they not let me do what I want and deal with the consequences in-game, especially as Vikings? I don’t need a justification for taking over someone’s castle after killing every last soldier in it. Why can’t the AI instead recognize that I’m playing a bloodthirsty, dishonorable asshole and send assassins my way? Speaking of assassins, how hard can it be to get rid of someone who works and sleeps at my court? Do I really need to get “plot power” over time against some random, non-noble courtier? It’s infuriatingly rigid with pretty much everything, no matter if you’re some backwater nobleman or the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations.

    The combat system is ridiculously static and unengaging to me. You build up doom stacks, send them around the map (in real time, but they take time to move from province to province as if it was a board game, making it hard to catch an army that’s running from you) and hope for the best. There’s no real strategy involved from what I can see. Definitely no tactics.

    I really wanted to like this game, and gave it a few chances (and money that I’d honestly love to have back), but it’s either not for me or I’m not getting something fundamental here.

    • eggy toast says:

      You aren’t supposed to play it like a 4x, the combat is not meant to be challenging or engaging (although unit composition and terrain both make big differences) and complaining about the existence of optional aesthetic DLC is kind of silly, to me, especially in a game where all the important game changes get patched in if you buy the DLC or not.

      Play it as a medieval family intrigue simulator and you might have more fun.

      • kshade says:

        I know that this isn’t a 4X, I just wanted to mention that I have played and enjoyed games that don’t involve shooting people in the head with rifles :>

        Cosmetic DLC to me would be alternative skins and wacky hats for the pope, not this. Even Mount & Blade has distinct looks for their different kingdoms beyond colors. How is it okay to sell an expansion (and not a cheap one) to unlock a different culture and then require extra cash for this stuff, day one?

        Play it as a medieval family intrigue simulator and you might have more fun.

        I tried to play it like that, but it’s so shallow and aloof. The NPCs have no character. Interaction is severely limited, even with your own frickin’ wife and kids. The random pop-ups where you get to make a choice usually are “gain stat, lose stat”, sometimes with a % success chance. If I wanted to play something like that I’d rather get a life sim, like Long Live the Queen (although that’s extremely flawed too).

        • Chalky says:

          Who is it you’re trying to play as when you’re not finding it challenging? Are you starting off as a superpower and thinking “huh, this isn’t hard at all”?

          Try starting as a single county count anywhere in the map, and have your ultimate goal be to become an emperor. This is the sort of challenge the game presents, and doing something like this has been the most fun I’ve had in the game.

          When you complain about individual npcs lacking character, you misunderstand the way in which you RP in this game. You are not an individual, you are a dynasty. You don’t interact with individuals, you interact with other lineages, forming relationships via family ties and diplomacy, improving your “character” via breeding, education and genetic traits you give to your successors.

          You invest in a skilled leader in your first born son but suddenly your third born is naturally a strong genius so you change crown laws to make him inherit instead… next thing you know you’re playing as that genius son and you’re locking in a civil war against your brother who’s a threat because your father made him such great leader… THAT is the RP you get in this game. You don’t have an interesting conversation, you have 500 years of dynastic history and filled with conflicts that your own actions helped sow.

          • kshade says:

            Try starting as a single county count anywhere in the map, and have your ultimate goal be to become an emperor.

            That’s pretty much what I did most of my tries, yeah. I also tried to play as really small, independent nations but that always ends in a bigger neighbor eradicating me with no way of stopping it – realistic, but not really fun.

            When you complain about individual npcs lacking character, you misunderstand the way in which you RP in this game. You are not an individual, you are a dynasty. You don’t interact with individuals, you interact with other lineages, forming relationships via family ties and diplomacy, improving your “character” via breeding, education and genetic traits you give to your successors.

            Hm, okay, that’s not very compelling to me but fair enough I guess. Are you supposed to be in super fast mode 99% of the time?

            next thing you know you’re playing as that genius son and you’re locking in a civil war against your brother who’s a threat because your father made him such great leader… THAT is the RP you get in this game. You don’t have an interesting conversation, you have 500 years of dynastic history and filled with conflicts that your own actions helped sow.

            That sounds interesting, but I had similar situations and, well, it wasn’t very fun because there wasn’t any character involved. The diplomatic/interaction system isn’t exactly expansive, so making up my own story didn’t work out.

          • Chalky says:

            Playing as a small independent nation is extremely difficult unless you’re surrounded by other one province minors for you to expand into. Ireland is one of the few starting locations where this is possible, but you’re overlooking one of the most unique aspects of CK2 – you don’t have to be independent.

            If you start as a small independent character next to larger ones, one of the first things you should consider doing is just going to who ever looks the strongest and swearing fealty (obviously, you can also choose to play as someone who starts as a vassal). Now sure, you’re not technically independent, but you still have all your lands and now there’s a powerful king or duke who will defend you against foreign invaders.

            You’re not prevented from attacking externally just because you’re a vassal either, you’re still able to fabricate claims and attack neighbours to expand your territory. Your liege will also choose to declare war on your behalf if you have external claims. What’s more, you’re also able to wage war against the king’s other vassals for their territory and engage in factionalism within the kingdom to influence laws and engage in intrigue to secretly undermine the ruler.

            Eventually you can grow large enough and gain enough allies within the kingdom to start a faction to put yourself or your heir onto the throne. Maybe the king will submit to your demands, maybe there will be a civil war, or maybe you’ll use marriage and murder to ensure your dynasty ascends to the throne…

            I love this sort of thing.

            In terms of game speed – yes, I spend most of the game at speed 4 or 5 unless I’m having a specific battle I need to micromanage. The game lasts for hundreds of years so playing at a high speed is pretty essential to make progress.

          • P.Funk says:

            The problem for kshade seems to be that he isn’t interested in what this game has to offer, not that the game isn’t constructed correctly.

            I dunno, I can RP just fine when I examine the things I’m trying to do with my family. When I have 2 sons and I see one of them get fat, ambitious, and craven then I see someone reveal that there is a plot by him to assasinate my other son or to rebel or whatever it gives me this idea about who he is. Over the years you start to see the things the characters try to do you start to know what they feel in their hearts. Is this guy going to be a loyal supporter of the next generation of my dynasty or is he going to be trouble for my heir?

            CK2 is a game where you get caught in the trap of thinking only for the now because it punishes you heavily in the future. You can gamble everything on trying to take a throne or marry into a line in just one generation, but if that fails or even if you succeed there is the next generation to consider. The stable kingdom you inherit might actually have lines of succession that cause huge chunks of your kingdom to leave your control and go to a rival. You then have to face the issue of trying to keep that from happening but those options are limited and its only really easy to deal with if you think ahead, like generations ahead.

            CK2 is brilliant because I can find myself trying to get one son to become the next Alexander, and realize that he ends up sitting on a glass throne. Once the next generation comes in things are very unstable. It then becomes a question, should I have gone or gold or just tried to inculcate things with a bit more nuance so that my next generation might be a bit less prominent but in a more stable secure position so that they can scheme to get a little higher?

            This is CK2. This is the RP. I remember once being the petty king of Crovan, working towards taking Ireland and Scotland and because I saw how the political situation in Scotland was working out there was an opportunity. A young woman was the heir to the throne of Scotland and because of the very unstable situation her faction was in I was able to marry my son to her so that his children would inherit her claim. I took the long view and had to deal with my son leaving my house to be with her but when his father died I became him and in the end my children inherited the kingdom of Scotland in one fell swoop. A plan hatched over 3 generations.

            I’ll take that to Civlization’s exhausting mid to end game any day of the week.

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        Cinek says:

        “and complaining about the existence of optional aesthetic DLC is kind of silly,” – not at all. Imagine they release a racing game where every car is a generic ferrari and then to get an actual car models you have to pay. It’d cause an obvious outrage – no idea why people try to defend it here. For me – it’s nothing more than outrageous greed and I despise Paradox for that just as much as I love their games.

        • killias2 says:

          Really? You think that’s a remotely fair (or sane) comparison? I know people who play racing games largely to see their favorite cars in fluid, meticulous graphical fidelity. Is that really how you play CK2? To see the little cartoon men on slightly different outfits?

          By and large, Paradox does DLC almost perfectly. I ignore all the cosmetic DLC because it’s all meaningless. If I were to buy it, it’d be to “tip” Paradox, not because it’s in any way, shape, or form part of having an enjoyable experience. When I do get cosmetic DLC, I never notice. It’s purely optional in all the best ways.

          Of course, that alone isn’t good. What is good are content rich free patches years after release. On top of that.. they basically do content DLC the right way. New areas, types of players, and kinds of playstyles are opened up. They’re basically expansions in the age of DLC, though some are more expansive than others.

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            Rizlar says:

            Yeah, this. The base game is complete on it’s own. But everyone loves more detail, more variety, you can never have too many cool little details in games like this. The cheap cosmetic DLC pays the devs to continue producing little details and lets players who have probably spent hundreds of hours in these games give a tiny tip in return.

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          All is Well says:

          Really, I just want to emphasize what killias2 is saying here: your generic Ferrari analogy is flawed because distinctive-looking cars are a lot more important to a racing game, than different looks of troops are to CK2. A more fitting (but still somewhat meaningless) analogy would be if every car in the vanilla game had the same speed/RPM dials, and by buying the DLC you could unlock the dials used in the actual cars.

        • P.Funk says:

          Its funny that this guy is a civ player and complains about Paradox’s DLC system when its Civ that is basically broken and only fixed by buying expansion packs, while CK2 or any other Paradox game works just fine without the expansions but still benefit from the massive patch that will come with any expansion.

    • darkshadow42 says:

      Causa belli is a good mechanism especially for multiplayer to prevent everyone from attacking anyone at anytime for no reason other than they’re next to them which happens enough anyway, it’s not that hard to sort out a causa especially if you are a viking and if you really hate it so much then attack without a cause and suffer the massive diplomacy penalty (its not worth it as diplomacy is so much more important in these games).

      With combat surprising that is how it was historically a smaller army would not engage without a strong advantage in some other regard, often it would take weeks or months to get two armies to come to battle. To help you should split your doom stack in two to bait or pincer your enemy (oh wow now its tactical not flat) as to your complaint it takes time for troops to move, is there any game where troops can magically teleport instantly?

      These grand strategy games ck/eu are played on many levels simultaneously so each individual level is quite simple.

      • kshade says:

        Causa belli is a good mechanism especially for multiplayer to prevent everyone from attacking anyone at anytime for no reason

        I’m not saying the game should be all about neighboring vassals attacking each other randomly, but, like I said, why not have ingame consequences for this? Whoever is on the receiving end of such an attack should be able to convince their allies and neighbors to help them out easily.

        and if you really hate it so much then attack without a cause and suffer the massive diplomacy penalty

        I tried, as Vikings. What happened then was that I successfully laid siege to a castle but couldn’t actually take it over since I hadn’t formally declared that I wanted to do so before going after their ally. That’s just bad – it’s not like they invaded Britain to follow the rules and play nice with the locals.

        as to your complaint it takes time for troops to move, is there any game where troops can magically teleport instantly?

        That’s not really what I meant. In a real-time game I would expect units to actually move around the map instead of standing in the middle of each province, as if this were Risk. If you cancel a move order they instantly are at the center of that area again. It’s just strange.

        • Myrdinn says:

          In EUIV you can attack neighbors without a casus belli, it gives you -5 stability and pretty much screws you over. In CK2 you can’t actually attack without a CB but breaking a truce gives you -5 diplomacy and negative opinion modifiers.

          • kshade says:

            What happens in EU4 if I attack someone, then defeat them and turn to their allies who joined the war on their side? In CK2 I had a situation where that happened, and when I defeated them as well I couldn’t take their castle.

          • Isair says:

            In EU4, each alliance has a warleader, which is either the strongest nations, or the nations that originally declared war if the difference in power is small. If the warleader declares peace, then the truce goes in effect for everyone, but you can also declare separate peaces between a warleader and a non-warleader as long as the non-warleader isn’t the one who was declared war on.

            So in your example, you can’t keep fighting after you’ve declared peace with your original enemy, but you can grab provinces from their allies before the final peace. You can also make demand from several different countries in the final peace treaty. Finally, there are some moderate penalties for demanding things that wasn’t part of the original wargoal, but it is possible without crippling yourself too much.

        • P.Funk says:

          I’m not saying the game should be all about neighboring vassals attacking each other randomly, but, like I said, why not have ingame consequences for this? Whoever is on the receiving end of such an attack should be able to convince their allies and neighbors to help them out easily.

          As I recall Civ actually ends up having lots of problems with this when you have the AI constantly DOWing you even when they’re weak and should be wary of doing so. CK is the only game where the AI doesn’t mess up the balance and flow of gameplay by constantly DOWing everything in sight with no sense of proportion. True there are lots of times when they get into messy stuff but overall its a lot tidier than a Civ game.

  7. Keyrock says:

    Oh man, this is awesome. CK2 is already insanely deep and they just keep cramming more goodness into it.

  8. Laurentius says:

    All the changes to EUIV sound splendid and yet I would gladly exchange them all for fortress (at least lvl 6,7 ) to actually be fortress in the meaning of that time ( Vauban!) and not some American War of Independence forts. I woudn’t mind lvl7 to be immensely expensive and even slap some very heavy upkeep cost to prevent loosing its quality over time but let it be really powerfull and able to withhold huge armies for a long, long time not something that 9.5k avantgarde can start succesfully sieging. And of course magical reinforcements in the middle of enemy lands.

  9. derbefrier says:

    Sweet more CK2 content is always welcome.

  10. thebigJ_A says:

    But will the AI in EU4 know how to use all this bloat.

    Oh right, it’s a multiplayer game. I’m such a three year old sometimes…