Mega Total War To The Max: Hearts of Iron IV Released

Paradox today released Hearts of Iron IV [official site], the latest in their awfully serious grand strategy series. It’s a World War II game, sure, but it’s unlikely to play out the way you’ve seen in so many games before. As is the grand strategy way, Hearts of Iron IV puts players in command of any nation in the world, rewriting history as they try to survive the turbulent time – and onwards. Yeah, good luck pal.

Playing as any nation, you can start in 1936 and prepare for the coming storm or launch right into it in 1939. What might’ve happened if Brazil had been preparing for total war since 1936? Dunno! Formed an alliance to take down the USA and build The Bomb? Heck if I know. Give it a go then tell me.

It’s… ah jeez, I’ll turn you over to Adam and his impressions of a preview build he played last year. War. Serious war. Very serious.

In their twin traditions of being friendly and releasing bumloads of DLC, Paradox have released a small bit of DLC for free to all players. Poland: United and Ready makes the Polish side less generic, giving them real historical plans and interests along with unique names and art for some historical leaders and units. What would’ve happened if Poland had pulled off its Intermarium plan to form a federation of countries between the Baltic, Black Sea, and Mediterranean? See for yourself.

Hearts of Iron IV is out now on Windows, Mac, and Linux for £34.99/39,99€/$39.99. It’s on Steam, the Humble Store, and whatnot. For players new to all this, Paradox have a short series of video tutorials. For people who like dramatic music, the launch trailer:


  1. anHorse says:

    This has always been the one Paradox gs series that I’ve never actually touched, interested to see what reviews are like

    • frobishlumpkin says:

      So far they’re quite positive! But I haven’t seen anything from my moat trusted outlets yet, so not too much to make of it. Very curiois what RPS and their top fansite will have to say.

  2. Blastaz says:

    Just been playing around with menus and options for half an hour. The art style has rather limited the options (ie they have hand painted half a dozen really famous generals for each second rank country whereas in past games they would have actual black and white photos of fifty of them) there’s quite a few things I miss from hoi2 but also looks like there are quite a few new fun things too.

    Give me forty hours and I might know wot I think…

    • Legion1183 says:

      Give me forty hours and I might know wot I think…

      The main reason stopping me from purchasing this… I just don’t have that amount of time to sink into one game anymore. My backlog is ridiculous as it is, adding another game that takes 10’s of hours just to break its surface hasn’t got a place in my list of games to play unfortunately. It takes 40+ hours just to get your head around the menus! So, many, MENUS!

  3. Someoldguy says:

    I loved Hearts of Iron 1 but lost interest in the series as the tech tree got progressively simplified and locked down in later iterations while the quantity of units and territories to manage rose almost exponentially and you were expected to pay for the unit packs to make them look less generic. It’ll be interesting to see what they’ve done with the latest version but I suspect it won’t be for me, unlike CK and EU where I’ve been happy to buy each new version.

    • Blastaz says:

      Way to hipster some old guy! Hearts of Iron 2 is best Hearts of Iron, it is known. It improved on 1 in just about every way.

      Hearts of Iron 3 though was the beast they could never fix. And suffered from stripping out the historical determinism.

      • Borsook says:

        With the exception of the tech tree, HOI1 really did have a far more detailed and interesting one, with 2 they oversimplified. But yeah, HOI2 was the first real HOI, HOI1 was still a version of EU, the biggest change between the two systems – combat starts with movement and not with arriving came with HOI2.

        • Someoldguy says:

          Having a lot of tech options and being able to pick aspects of tech to prioritise and not be hit with ludicrous penalties for being “ahead of time” is what did it for me. I was less interested in RTS’ing stacks of troops around the map. The major HoI mod that quadrupled the amount of tech was my kind of heaven. HoI2 had far less tech in a tighter straitjacket, far more territories to micromanage your war over and everyone looked generic if you didn’t buy the unit packs. Not my cup of tea, but I know it worked for many.

      • dsch says:

        Ah, I remember doing world conquest as Germany in HOI and 2. It involves many, many Fallschirmjäger dropping en masse, one per province.

  4. RabbitIslandHermit says:

    I wish I had saved my money for this instead of buying Stellaris. Ah well, probably for the best that I don’t get sucked in.

    • Sound says:

      I entirely agree.
      But I can’t tell whether the problem was the lack of compelling choices and tools in Stellaris, or that I’m putting too many ‘grand strategy’ expectations on what is merely meant to be a 4X.

      Regardless, I love HoI, and I’ve got high hopes here.

    • Cinek says:

      I’m happy to afford both. But… yea… Stellaris was a flop. Paradox really doesn’t have much luck with these random spin-offs.

  5. teije says:

    Initial reviews/impressions are good, although some over at the Paradox forums are in arms over it being too “unhistorical” and weak AI. I’ll dive in shortly and see what it’s like. Expecting more meat on its bones than Stellaris (which I love up until that mid-game drag, BTW), but with the initial wonkiness we’ve come to know and love from Paradox.

    Their games are like a fine wine (not that I buy good wine). Good and entertaining on initial release, but excellent after 2-3 years of aging.

    • onodera says:

      My experience with HoI so far:

      * naval combat is rather fiddly and opaque compared to land combat
      * air combat is fiddly as well
      * battleplans are fiddly, I have found no quick way to swap two divisions between two fronts
      * the global AI is mainly driven by events, if you start as Germany and never go to war, only Japan will declare wars. I saw a minor declare war once so far.
      * the AI prefers to sit on the front line like it’s WWI. With some micro you can find an empty province and encircle the enemy with a single division. Works well when you’re a minor and your major ally can fill the breach with infantry asap.

  6. morganjah says:

    Hopefully this will take less than their typical two years from launch to make it a decent game.

    Does anyone know if there will be an actual functioning Pacific War in this game? HOI 3 never did get it figured out.

    • Cinek says:

      Pacific war – no, from what I seen while playing yesterday – it’s still shit.

      Time to fix it – I’m afraid that some of the things are fundamentally flawed (godawful interface with horrible fonts is a new low in the series, it’s even worse than the one from the original HoI).

  7. SaintAn says:

    Better enjoy Paradox games while you can. They’re going public so the stockholders are going to force them to screw up their games. They’ll be like Acti-Blizzard, Ubi and EA soon.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      As they have said many many times, it was a relatively small percentage of stocks that went for sale, majority ownership remains with Wester and long-time owners Spiltan Investment.

  8. BaronKreight says:

    The vibe I’m getting from this article – let Paradox do the global strategy games for nerds and CA do strategy games for everyone. You know what why CA can’t do a bit of both? Combine battles with a good touch of global strategy management.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      TBH, I get really bored with the battles in TW games nower-days. Take high-ground. Archer front on skirmish, Cavalry hidden in a forest, wait for their heavy info to slog up the hill and charge them in the bum.

      I tend to auto-resolve most TW battles since they quickly become monotonous. and the Strategic level of TW games has become rather unrewarding after the depth of PDS games.

      Sorry, this is just a long winded way of saying I’m a PDS nerd…. lol.

  9. Neutrino says:

    I’m just hoping that this release prompts an imminent CKII sale so I can get the DLC at a reasonable price.

    • P.Funk says:

      I just checked and of all the CKII stuff I’m lacking that aren’t the useless bits like the eBooks I’m looking at $134 CAD from completing the collection. Here’s hoping for at least a 66% discount on that.

  10. Cropduster says:

    I have high hopes for this, but for me it’s always been the most tricky to get into of all paradox’s series.

    I always found the historical determinism of the series really frustrating. I mean, I can accept that I’m in for a hard time picking an allied nation starting next to nazi Germany or the USSR, but when I loose half my nation after one year in due to an unavoidable event (yay for historical realism) I just get mad.

    Also I hope they make weaker, more obscure nations more playable. Not instant powerhouses obviously, but capable of doing more than rolling over and dying when the big boys notice you. CKII was really cool in that way, and hopefully the days of the map being full of useless nations a la vicky2 are over.

    Anyway looking forward to picking this up and seeing for myself.

  11. carewolf says:

    Let’s hope it is actually playable and won’t take two extensions like Hoi3 did.

  12. Carra says:

    Stellaris and HoI4 are released very close together. I’d love to play HoI4… in a few months.

  13. Silverhood says:

    I have played Hearts of Iron 3 to death, 500+ hours, and it’s easily my fave Paradox game. Managed a day of HoI4 and I’m impressed with certain parts, less so with others. I played the tutorial with Italy, joined the Axis, we got beaten pretty soundly by 1942. Naval game is massively tricky when you are outgunned and outnuymbered. Most of my navy was destroyed in the port. Played a second game as Hungary, my fave nation to play as in HoI3. Slow start while I built up industrial capacity, no early war against Yugoslavia here. Took it easily enough, and Greece too. Had some luck breaking Soviet lines with my elite units. But it seems like the AI can’t handle the naval and air game at all, and instead of contributing to the fall of the Soviet Union, it’s 1945 and I’m blocking the route from Sicily to Italy with half my army, holding off over 1 million allied troops with my 150,000 guys. The other half is sitting in Istanbul blocking several million Soviet troops. They attack on a regular basis. The casualties inflicted on my enemies are truly enormous compared to my army size. Meanwhile, my airforce is shooting down hundreds of enemy planes every year. My 200 Jet fighters that I deployed to northern France were wiped out in a day. Stats sad I faced over 1200 enemy fighters. Welp.
    The allies have been doing naval invasions continually all game. At one point, they controlled almost all of Italy. My elite battalions saved the day and I had to garrison Italy for over a year. When I finally moved my troops out, Italy was overrun in less than 2 months and I had to go bail them out yet again. I took Greece myself… I face continual invasions from allied countries. I keep the harbours defended tightly, and the allied troops make some headway, run out of supplies, and are slaughtered to a man. How South Africa, Canada and Australia are even fielding troops at this point is a mystery. Japan is no better than Italy, losing to the Chinese early on, but instead of suing for peace and getting on with fighting the allies, that war has now dragged in the other Axis powers, and China are doing sea invasions in the middle east and Turkey. The only bright side is that Germany is almost done beating the Soviets, even though most of the armies on that front line are American volunteers. Looking forward to the aftermath.
    In terms of playing a minor nation, as Hungary, I had the entire focus tree completed by 1944. For research I was always up to date on the majority once I unlocked the extra research slots.

    • Someoldguy says:

      Oh dear. Looks like a major AI patch is going to be top of the priority list.