Crusader Kings II [official site] is three years old, which means we've delayed too long. The little blighter should have been married off to its own cousin at least a year ago and is probably plotting to have us all killed even as I write this.
To celebrate the occasion, Paradox are allowing people to play the base game for free on Steam, from now until February 23rd. It'll also be discounted by 75% throughout that period, so if you finally decide to take the plunge, you can buy in for £7.49. It's my favourite game of the last five years and quite possibly my favourite game of all time. Here's my review. Thoughts on its growth over the last three years below.
While I was at the Paradox Convention last week, I spoke to head honchos Fred Wester and Susana Meza Graham (expect an enormous feature about that conversation soon) about the difficulty inherent in making a Crusader Kings III. Any sequel could suffer from what I refer to as 'The Sims' problem, which is to say it might improve some mechanical issues but is likely to be relatively light on content. "No Pagans" could be the new "No Toddlers". Simply put, CK II DLC has made the game as it is today, fully patched and expanded, into its own sequel.
Wester disagreed, slightly, saying he thinks of the expanded game as CK 2.5 rather than a sequel, but he seemed to agree that a follow-up would most likely suffer by comparison, at least in its earliest iterations. Moving to a new engine would be a fine thing, but shortening the timeframe and reducing the number of playable factions would be a step back.
When a sequel comes around, it'll need "a fresh angle", Wester says. He doesn't want CK III, or whatever it might be called, to replace CK II, but to sit alongside it. People could play both and "argue about which is the true medieval sandbox." Quite what that angle might be isn't clear - I put forward the idea that an Obsidian-led Crusader Kings RPG would be a fine thing and will keep doing so until it happens - but there was no suggestion that Paradox are ready to move on from the current generation of grand strategy anytime soon.
That's a good thing. In free patches and upgrades alone, CK II has improved and grown on a regular basis. More so than some games that operate on a yearly release cycle. The expansions are decently priced, often reduced as part of a collection, and (mostly) as robustly designed as the core game. Another three years? It's possible.