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Hearts Of Iron IV: Man The Guns rewrites history today

I like big boats and I cannot lie

There's a new Hearts Of Iron IV expansion out today, and this one goes ham on the history books. While Paradox's grand strategy series has always played a bit fast and loose with real history, the Man The Guns expansion pairs a slew of naval warfare upgrades with some wildly divergent histories. The British Empire could re-establish monarchic power, or decolonise decades early, while America can hurl itself into a second civil war in pursuit of reforms. Of course, this being a Paradox game there's a shipload of free naval changes coming in a free update for owners of the base game. A trailer sets sail below.

For those taking the plunge on the new expansion, Man The Guns seems split in half. First, we've got amphibious landings, naval treaties, shipping route controls and naval mines bulking out the strategic depth of all things watery. That should change the moment-to-moment play, but the campaign side of Man The Guns is what fascinates me, with alternate timelines open for both America and Britain. Seeing the British empire grasp for absolute world dominance once more is intriguing, and thanks to one of the new features, it looks like you can force an AI-controlled empire to take that route.

Of course, this being a Paradox expansion, everyone gets goodies - so many that their change-log was too large to post on Steam, apparently. Even without naval mines and some higher-end sea stuff, everyone's getting a major overhaul to ocean combat and the logistics thereof. Vehicles now require fuel to run, so if supply lines get cut off, ships, tanks and more just stop moving. The seas now count as complex terrain, too, with narrow fjords being easier to navigate for smaller, more agile vessels. Admirals also now have their own skills and personality traits. Between expansion and update, that's a lot of new plates to spin in a game I already found dizzyingly complex. Perhaps I'm out of my depth.

Hearts Of Iron IV: Man The Guns is out now on Steam and Paradox Plaza for £15.49/€19.99/$19.99. The 1.6 'Ironclad' update is live now, and you can see the full change list here.

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Dominic Tarason