The Final Battle Of Britain: Hearts Of Iron IV Set For 2016

“It’ll be over by Christmas,” Hearts of Iron IV [official site] thinks to itself as the engineers at Paradox fiddle with its guts. “They’ll send me home via Steam-tube, rather than back to the frontlines of testing and development.”

No such luck. The World War II grand strategy game is due to spend another Christmas in development. That’s good news for us though because it represents a commitment to the cause. Rather than dashing for release while the shells are still falling, Hearts of Iron is standing firm. The last time I played, in a huge multiplayer session, there were several interface and balance issues in need of attention. That’s exactly what they’re getting – I spoke to Paradox at Gamescom and they told me how things stand.

A great deal has been reworked, overhauled or replaced so I won’t list everything. Many of the improvements relate to the interface and the entire (brilliant) system of setting up fronts and commands seems to be working efficiently. Setting up invasion plans involves a few clicks of the mouse, and the arrows on the map can be bent, squashed and stretched. Controls for air support and bombardment are neater, and there are increased and improved choices on the national trees for major nations. Britain’s looks particularly healthy, allowing for slow and intentional dissolution of the Empire or attempts to bolster it in various regions.

There’s much more. One change that is indicative of the process is the removal of transport ships. Divisions with a battleplan that requires naval transport will now have convoys assigned to them automatically. Previously, every step of the process required personal management and the new method not only cuts down on that micromanagement but also prevents the kind of oversights that seem extremely unlikely at the strategic level of command.

This streamlining of processes actually allows for a deeper and more complex game. After all, if a system is counter-intuitive and commands are difficult to implement correctly, players are likely to avoid certain options. Rather than complexity of command and interface, Hearts of Iron is moving toward complexity of strategic choice and simulation. That makes scenarios like the one in the new trailer more of a possibility.

World War II: Episode V: The Empire Falls Over

12 Comments

  1. SanguineAngel says:

    Ah, I have been waiting for this, it’s a little bit of a blow to see the delay but it means I might just pick up HOI 3 while it’s on offer atm I think.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    I still really want to play these games in theory, but in practice I’m scared of what will happen to everything else in my life if I do. I also really want to try Kaiserreich, which sounds pretty great.

    I would start a discussion about the likelihood that Sealion would succeed (hint: not very high) but WWII alternate histories are somewhat overdone. That said, it’s sort of interesting how this kind of thing works in games vs books/films. The latter needs to have some kind of reason for doing this kind of thing, something that you’re commenting on, like The Years of Rice and Salt or Moorcock’s steampunk work, otherwise you’re just doing stuff at random. Games are a bit more free-form because they’re done with the player’s input based on a rule set, and it’s partly in the challenge rather than the message – a book about Switzerland conquering Europe would be nonsensical, but in a game it’s a challenge to play a system against the odds.

    • v21v21v21 says:

      Good points made.

      Off on a tangent, how about a discussion on whether there was ever any real intention to proceed with Sealion, regardless of the outcome of Adlerangriff (BoB, essentially) or was the whole thing Addie’s (aka as “Heil Me”) way to get rid of Goring for a while, who was hogging the buffet and eating all the bratwursts, the inconsiderate fat fuck…

  3. Anthile says:

    That’s honestly one of the best game trailers I have ever seen.

    • carewolf says:

      I love Britain’s failed invasion of Norway in the bysentence.

  4. libdab says:

    I’ve always loved hardcore strategy and war games but find (with age, maybe?) that I’m becoming less tolerant of thick rule books, complexity and micro-management. I’ve got War in the West, for example, but have rarely ventured to play it.

    Looks like this game has nailed the balance between authenticity and ease of play, though, so I’ll undoubtedly give it a go.

    • Cinek says:

      You’ll be happy to know that HoI III offers a very high level of automation. To the point where you can give AI a control over everything and just manage your nation war machine on a theatre level, assigning objectives and just watching the war unfold.

      • libdab says:

        Thanks, Cinek, good to know.

        • Sakkura says:

          And don’t worry, it no longer decides that the Channel Islands is the only place in the world that matters, and stack hundreds of divisions there. Of course it’s still kind of broken in a lot of other areas.

        • Aetylus says:

          HOI3 was the previous attempt to achieve WW2 grand strategy with the micromanagement handled by AI. Sadly the best thing about that game was that release was so buggy that it prompted Paradox to completely overhaul their UI and QA resulting in the excellent Crusader Kings 2 and EU4. (P.S. if you looking for grand strategy without micromanagement in space, try Distant Worlds).

          • Silverhood says:

            If you get HoI3 with the latest expansion (TFH), it’s probably the best WW2 grand strategy game around. I have sunk 200+ hours into it, and I still go back for more whenever I have a free weekend. You can micromanage as much as you want, or not at all. Obviously, the AI is rarely as good as a human player, but it can reliably be left to do the grunt work, like managing the eastern front overall as Germany, while you ensure that your panzers and aircraft are used for maximum effect.

  5. ExitDose says:

    I’m hoping that this will be the one that finally clicks for me.