A Family Affair: Crusader Kings II – Way Of Life

Crusader Kings II is almost fully grown. As a kid, it didn’t have the breadth of thought to explore more than one belief system and certainly didn’t know how a Republic operated. With age came wisdom and the youngster was soon travelling all over the world to learn about different cultures and faiths. As part of the MA in Early Medieval History that it completed recently, CK II wrote a biography of Charlemagne and now it has left the cloisters of academia and is ready to enter the real world. The school of life. I give it two weeks before it’s bedding its own father in law and having its brothers chopped into messes.

Rather than expanding the timeframe in which the game takes place, or adding a new culture, Crusader Kings II: Way of Life boosts the roleplaying aspects of the world’s finest strategy game. Here’s the word from Paradox.

Today we’re announcing that we’re in the midst of developing something new for Crusader Kings II, a project that will allow you to get even deeper into the role-playing aspects of the game. Way of Life, the next DLC for CK2, will let you become a better (or worse!) ruler and grant you more power over personal relationships than ever before.

Sure, it’s nice to have someone cozy up to you and be your lover while you’re sitting atop the throne, but what if you could choose who to seduce? Or, after getting into that relationship on the side, what if you discover that you just need some space and had a way to break it off? You know, without having your soon-to-be ex-lover assassinated. These things and much more, including hundreds of new events, are coming to Way of Life.

This is good news. I don’t need the game to be any bigger – I still haven’t spent more than a couple of hours with Charlemagne – but I can always take a little more depth in the family management side of things. As always, the expansion will be released alongside a patch for all users and the studio will be seeking beta testers to assist with the updating process this time around.

With every piece of DLC, we always issue a patch for the vanilla game that allows everyone to take advantage of the changes being made to CK2, and this will be no different EXCEPT this particular time we’re asking for your assistance by helping us test out the patch ahead of the launch of Way of Life. The beta test will begin next week and we’ll have more details on how to fabricate a claim to beta test soon, so be on the lookout.

I suspect the temptation to tinker with relationships will lead to more terrifying complications and twisted branches on the old family tree than ever before.


  1. grechzoo says:

    Great, cant wait to find out the exact details of they will be covering. will it be small, and just deal with romantic relationships, or have new mechanics for dealing with every possible type of association within the game.

    Adam do you have any official word from PDS on when more details will be released?

  2. RedViv says:

    At this point, the various richly detailed mods for that aspect of the game are something I *need* to have installed. Looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

    • grechzoo says:

      Can you recommend me these relationship enhancing mods you speak of? I have never really looked into that part of the CKII scene.

      • RedViv says:

        The most thorough starting point I find to be the VIET mods. More cultural personal events, more important traits, all those.

  3. Shardz says:

    I remember back in the day when all this “DLC” was actually built into the retail game. After almost 50 “DLC” releases later with this game, Paradox has forever convinced me to look elsewhere for entertainment.

    • grechzoo says:

      The original game was a brilliant achievement, that provided players with literally hundreds of hours of content.

      TWO YEARS after release they announce more of a game people love, and you complain about it not being in the retail game.

      What do you want them to do? Delay the game two years so its all in the retail release.

      They have released a game and tailored new content to the fans, and to their own ambitious designs that could have only ever come true through great sales and lifespan of the game in the first place.

      • HothMonster says:

        People complain about this all the time and I agree it’s stupid. Most companies would have released CK3 and CK4 with the amount of content they have added in the last two years. It’s way cheaper to gobble up a years worth of DLC when it inevitably goes on sale than it is to have to purchase a full retail game every year.

        It’s weird that some people would be happier with yearly full releases then they are seeing a couple content pack dlcs a year.

        • Shardz says:

          Two words: expansion packs. This is how it was done decades before Paradox was a gleam in the Steam eye.

          • HothMonster says:

            Expansion packs were built into the game at retail? That was your complaint wasn’t it, that they keep adding content to a game long after release? Or are the goalposts shifting?

            They do make expansion packs which is what they do and what you are razzing them about. They have 7(?) expansion packs for 5-15$. Then they have a bunch of unneeded cosmetic stuff that you can skip without consequence or buy if you want to support them.

            I don’t buy the cosmetic shit, which makes me real happy that they don’t wrap it all into the feature expansion and therefore raise the price of that. I’d rather 50 items that I can pick and choose what I want than a few expansion packs that have all that stuff included but cost more as a result. I don’t listen to the music so I for one am glad it wasn’t in the expansion so I don’t have to pay for it. I’m glad they give me the option to not buy that shit. But you want them to jam it all together and raise the price of the expansions as if that would somehow be better?

            You seem hung up on the number of DLC items rather than actually analyzing what they are, how they are priced, and what they do and do not add to the game. Selling stuff individually instead of as a bundle is better for the consumer not worse as I get to pick where my money goes.

            Just cause something is released doesn’t mean you need to buy it. The game is no worse if you don’t buy the extra song, flag and portrait packs. Having optional extras shouldn’t be considered nickle and dimeing. Released quality expansions for your 2+ year old game for cheap should be rewarded, not scoffed at.

          • Llewyn says:

            Which is exactly what Paradox have been doing. The fact that they also have cheap cosmetic DLCs for people who want those doesn’t change that at all.

            Don’t see what Steam has to do with any of this though.

          • HothMonster says:


            Steams DLC interface does suck which probably adds to this perception. That could definitely be reworked to make games like this look a little less intimidating with their DLC. Maybe separate expansions from cosmetics or at least sort them better.

          • Llewyn says:

            @HothMonster: That is very true.

        • Baines says:

          I kind of wish that they would release CK3.

          The game engine has to be reaching a point where it would benefit from a complete overhaul. But each DLC expansion that Paradox releases makes it harder for fans to accept ‘starting over’ with a new game that will be absent so many of those features.

          • dolgion1 says:

            I don’t want CK3. I’m perfectly content with them continuing development on CK2. CK2’s engine is great and runs great on my machine. You gotta ask yourself, apart from a graphic overhaul (which isn’t the point with Paradox games, and CK2 looks great anyway), what would be the benefit of starting over? In the case of EU3 to EU4, the benefit was that they could rethink the core design and implement a new way of doing things (like the military, administrative and diplomatic points system vs the previous slider system). But CK2’s core design is doing mighty fine. All I’m saying is, unless they figure out a better design for a medieval nobility RPG/Grand Strategy game they don’t need to make CK3.

      • Shardz says:

        I’m not complaining about the quality of the game, but you have to admit within a reasonable amount of logic that 50 DLC releases is a bit…staggering. Perhaps even unethical in the opinion of some. The font/UI scaling issue for quite a few users still hasn’t been addressed, yet we have a plethora of additional purchases to further their wealth while some of their players squint until crows feet develop around the eyes. Paradox does this with every single game they have in their catalog, so it’s not a development cycle as much as it is a chronic marketing scheme.

        • grechzoo says:

          To be honest. yes the superficial faces, and music mods, are WAY too plentiful and over the top. They really dilute the game’s focus for anyone looking at it on the storefront. that part of it is unethical.

          I just wouldn’t want such an unimportant and quite frankly pointless part of the games dna to ruin what is the other 99% of strategy, roleplaying and simulation brilliance.

          I highly doubt the games primary designers were behind the unethical DLC.

          You shouldn’t miss out on what is in my opinion (as someone who has never played any other paradox game and very little strategy) is one of pc gaming’s modern classics.

        • wallish says:

          “…but you have to admit within a reasonable amount of logic that 50 DLC releases is a bit…staggering.”

          Not really, no.

          The vast majority of the DLC packs are aesthetic packs that add nothing mechanically to the game (unit models, portraits, and soundtrack that get added along with major expansions to accommodate the new playable groups). It’s only staggering if you ignore that it’s seven major expansions with about $5 – $10 of optional aesthetic content that would normally be folded into the cost of the expansions (which would raise their price by that amount).

          You talk about this being unethical, but given that Paradox is not a huge company, the ability to monetize aesthetic features to help finance further major expansions rather than letting a game die doesn’t seem unethical to me. Especially considering that the choices are:
          (a) ignore aesthetics and release expansions where every new playable group has four or five visuals available rather than the variety offered to the initial Western European groups,
          (b) raise the price of the expansion packs to accommodate the additional art cost, even though most people wouldn’t care (this looks like it’d raise the price of each pack by $5-$10), or
          (c) release expansion packs at a lower price and separate the additional aesthetics for those that care.

          Which seems the most ethical?

          Let’s look at EU4: We’ve got, again, about $6-$8 of aesthetic DLC with each major expansion. Victoria 2? The same.

          I see this opinion all the time. People see a huge list of DLC and complain about modern DLC money grubbing while ignoring the fact that Paradox is one of the few studios actually releasing Expansions that vastly add to the gameplay rather than just “DLC” that throws in some additional content (e.g. story DLC, extra levels, new weapons, whatever.)

          If you don’t like the DLC then don’t buy it. But I personally would rather see 50 DLC rather than 7 DLC at a higher cost.

          • Shardz says:

            I would much rather see proper expansion packs released than to be nit picked to death with 50 DLC over the course of two years. It’s simply unreasonable, in my opinion. And to state the not so obvious, I did not purchase this game, nor any other from Paradox due to these sub-standard practices.

            As I mentioned above in this thread, the font is unreadable on my 26″ monitor and always has been since release. Countless people have chimed in about it, yet it gets no attention whatsoever from the devs. Due to the unplayable nature of this release and their relentless pursuit of wallet sapping, I stay clear of ALL Paradox titles in protest…no matter how “good” the game is noted to be.

          • Mr.K says:

            As someone who really likes Crusader Kings 2 AND does not really have huge problems with their DLCs, and even getting some of unit/whatever packs without feeling bad, I do have to point out that I am now at the point where I own some of the DLCs but I don’t remember which. I know I should get some more but I don’t remember which. I also know there’s a bunch of stuff that I don’t want to get but I don’t remember which. The first problem is luckily nowadays addressed by Steam which now actually handily shows me what I do own. The other two…. well, let’s just say that I haven’t felt like playing CK2 in a while simply because I want to get the DLCs I should get first but I haven’t bothered to check for the third time which has what.

            While I do not have a problem with the way Paradox releases the DLCs, I do think they’re running a bit too wild with it and the amount has simply gotten out of control.

          • HauntedQuiche says:

            @shardz “I would much rather see proper expansion packs released than to be nit picked to death with 50 DLC over the course of two years.”

            You mean you don’t want to be given a choice in what to buy?

            …Or do you just mean you’re throwing a little bit of a childish fit at a number without actually stopping to look at what the number is.

          • frymaster says:

            It seems to me that a lot of the “DLC” is cosmetics similar to TF2’s store, only without having the benefit of the store interface, with some “proper” content/gameplay-adding DLC mixed in as well. I think that just because they are both labelled “DLC” doesn’t mean we have to dogmatically treat them identically in our heads

        • Fiyenyaa says:

          Of all the games to get upset about DLC over, Crusader Kings 2 seems like a bad one to pick.
          You have big content packs which are released at the same time as big content patches which allow players who don’t buy them to get some of the features, and you have tiny aesthetic packs which are completely and utterly optional. I don’t really see what the issue is here.

    • protorp says:

      Dear lord I’m bored and frustrated with hearing variations on this line in response to threads about CK2.

      The game was fantastic on launch, got great reviews, sold better than expected, and the developers have ploughed revenue back into the game to hugely widen its scope off the back of that with every major DLC. Each of these has a patch giving the mechanical updates to everyone free. Even the minor DLC has a point – it means you can buy the major updates at a lower cost without the new portrait art, unit art, music etc.

      Given that the model provides something for everyone from those who’ve bought the game and never want to spend a penny on it again, through those who only want to add in an expansion pack from time to time if the subject interests them, to those who want to be able to play every possible variation and give the developer a bit more for extra fluff, the “OMG 50 DLCzzzz” opinion that so often gets screeched around seems awfully blinkered and flippant.

    • qutayba7 says:

      Paradox’s DLC’s actually expand on areas of the game based on player feedback. Adding to and refining something like a strategy game like this is, in fact, ideal, in my opinion. Rather than make you buy a whole new game each time around, they’re just tweaking and adding features – all of which are optional (Don’t like Aztecs invading France? Don’t get that DLC). Yes, they do add lots of little piddly DLCs with music and portraits, but I buy those more because I want the company to continue making games like this than because I feel they’re integral to the game. No one else bothers to make deep games like this – it’s always about reaching a larger audience and streamlining. They should be rewarded for not forgetting the grognard demographic.

    • falconne says:

      Every Paradox DLC adds significant gameplay content to games that are already some of the most complex in the industry and not only are they cheap, the meat of the DLC is freely published as patches.

      Your reflexive reaction to the word “DLC” in this situation is essentially saying “Give us less content, less often and charge more for it”.

  4. mechanixis says:

    I have to say, I’m probably more excited about this than I would be about another cultural expansion. CK2’s greatest strength is its focus on characters, and while here’s been a bare-bones friends/rivals/lovers system in place for a while now, it doesn’t have a lot of impact or offer the player much in the way of agency. They’ve got sweeping political and religious drama down pat at this point; what I’d really like to see is little personal narratives playing out in which it really feels like my character has trusted friends and hated nemeses.

    • teije says:

      Agreed. This sounds like the most interesting expansion yet for CK. The game needs more depth, not more breadth. The last DLC for EUIV was a great step in enriching the playing experience, so good to see this one planned too.

  5. klops says:

    Unfortunately the old age does not come alone. There are problems as well. Don’t get me wrong. I love the DLCs and own every one of the game affecting ones except the Aztecs and the new Charlemagne.

    While Paradox is making new stuff with a great speed, they are leaving the QA part of the games quite unattended. I started playing CK2 again about a month ago and the game was in worse condition bug wise than when I first started playing the game (which as I remember was very good). The forums are full of people moaning about how the CK2 -> EU4 converter still does not work while they are selling it for a full price.

    Nice sounding direction for a DLC, though! I still haven’t made any use of the Rajas expansion so a new point of concentration sounds good.

    • Thurgret says:

      On this note, is the game even really playable yet? I eagerly picked up the Charlemagne expansion, having enjoyed CK2 to date. I found that it introduced several essentially game-breaking bugs, and the supposed core of it all, Charlemagne himself, was drab and dull to boot, and I’m not sure even that was functional.

      • klops says:

        They released a big update about week ago which should deal with lot of Charlemagne’s problems.

        • Thurgret says:

          That’s good to hear, thanks. I stopped keeping track on the Paradox forum after a while, since a number of the patches appeared to introduce more problems than they solved.

  6. SlimShanks says:

    I have only one thing to say about the incest in this game/our history.
    It’s all relative.

  7. tanstaafl says:

    Great. Every time I think I’m out they pull me back in.

    • DogPawHat says:

      This one is gonna be the worst. All the understated social stuff that drove half the game is now boosted.

      I’m gonna need time to prepare.

  8. spacedyemeerkat says:

    I’ve owned this game for ages. But every time I try to play it, I literally feel stupid. This is annoying because I really find the premise fascinating.

    Additionally, the game seems to have changed so much since release (I have bought many of the expansions in various sales) that old walkthroughs seem inaccurate.

    Maybe one day.

    • grechzoo says:

      Arumba, one of the most respected CKII youtubers out there after Quill18 has only just put up a new tutorial series, a few months ago in fact, where he goes over every mechanic in the game.

      link to youtube.com

      The only thing it pre-dates is Charlemagne which doesn’t add too much to the mechanics that you cant learn by watching one extra vid on youtube from either of the two mentioned channels.

    • acheron says:

      Same here. Everything about the game screams “this is something I would love”, but when I actually try to play it, I get nowhere.

      I’ll check out that linked video tutorial too.

    • P.Funk says:

      I laud your financial support for the developers via purchasing expansions to the game that serve no purpose but to frustrate your enjoyment of it! XD

      *he says as a friendly jab, not critically*

  9. twincast says:

    Generally speaking, I prefer when they expand the map in addition to new mechanics. Don’t need the Americas (and Sunset Invasion annoyed me at best) or Oceania (although I would indeed love having particularly the latter), but South-East-Asia and China (and Sub-Saharan Africa) are mocking us by being so close and yet so far. And after that (or better yet, at the same time) they should come up with a way to incorporate their lovely but underappreciated Sengoku spin-off game into Crusader Kings II proper.

    Since they’re working on Hearts of Iron IV now and are sure to tackle Victoria III afterwards (although it annoys me to no end that they aren’t doing them in historical order), I see many an expansion yet to follow for Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV, so I’m optimistic that they will indeed wrestle the big Mandarin elephant in the room before “rebooting” either game in a sequel, but if they don’t, I’ll definitely be pissed – had they not started at all with those map expansions, I’d be fine either way, but now they damn better finish it. Also, while we’re at it, I’d love to get a new EU: Rome (with a better, more distinct title) from them.

    And I really don’t get people who’d rather get a rehash of the base games every couple of years than see them continuously expanded (other than yes, the cosmetic stuff should be included in the expansions proper, but that’s why you wait for Steam sales with all DLCs of this formerly adamantly DRM-free publisher). I mean, it’s not even like they’d suddenly upgrade to a high-end graphics engine to justify it.

    Anyway, I haven’t bought the recent couple of expansions yet and in fact haven’t played CK2 (or EU4) at all since late spring this year (although I’m now really in the mood to change that), so I can’t really comment on them (other than custom kingdoms FTW), but deeper role-playing would definitely be very, very welcome; I’m getting excited here. :)