To start their annual fanfest PDXCON off with a bang (or at least an "Ooh!"), Paradox are now offering Crusader Kings 2 for free. It seems to be free forever? [Update: yes, it is.] If you've not yet tried to form your own medieval dynasty and found yourself undone by intrigue, backstabbing, and your own damn foolishness, you're missing out. Expansions are not included in the giveaway, unsurprisingly, though they are all half-price in a sale at the moment.
If you need more convincing to try a free game, here's us declaring it one of the best strategy games:
"Famous as an engine for stories, Crusader Kings II is the game that most closely resembles Game of Thrones or, for that matter, actual medieval history. Popes are overthrown, unwanted children vanish into the tower never to be seen again... incest occurs. It's a particularly violent soap opera that's almost as much fun to watch and read about as it is to play with.
"It's also a wonderful grand strategy game. With all the attention that is (rightfully) spent on the storytelling and alternate histories, the cold hard mechanics of Crusader Kings are sometimes overlooked. Underneath the character-based dramas, tragedy and comedies that play out, there are superb and unusual military strategies to unpick, as well as the great and complex game of diplomacy and hierarchical struggle."
Paradox are a little vague on whether this the game is free forever or just for PDXCON. The fact that it's set to "Free To Play" on Steam rather than running Steam's usual method of timed trials with a countdown would suggest yes. The way Paradox tweet it "is currently free" would suggest no. Grab it now and you can't be sorry later? Hie thee to Steam. But it would be sensible to set the base game free at this point.
It's a cracking game and has oodles of expansions people might fancy buying once they're drawn in. Surely we've all been enjoying a medieval drama and found ourselves thinking "You know what would really set this off? The Black Death. Or pagans. Or an Aztec invasion." Paradox already had the game and all expansions for only £12 in a sale earlier this year, so they're clearly looking to attract people who are interested but need more encouragement.
Might this be leading to the announcement of Crusader Kings 3 at PDXCON? Paradox's Fredrik Wester suggested in July 2018 that the sheer mass of CK2 would mean they'll soon need to move onto a new game, saying "We can't add much more to the game as it is now." It has been eleven months since the latest CK2 expansion, Holy Fury, and they've not announced a new one.
Our boy Nate is in the field at PDXCON and will soon report back. Nate, ask them about CK3, go on.