If there was no Europa Universalis there almost certainly wouldn't be a Victoria, a Hearts of Iron or a Crusader Kings. There probably wouldn't be a Paradox, at least not in its current form. The success of the game, with all its complexities and oddities, led to sequels, expansions and Caesarean spin-offs. Earlier today, the company announced that Europa Universalis IV is in development and we'll hopefully find out much more at Gamescom next week, but through skilled diplomacy we have managed to secure some early details and screens. Click those screens to see maps so large you can read the words on 'em.
Exploration, trade, warfare and diplomacy are the heart of the game's nation- and empire-building, but what may be the biggest change is an emphasis on leaders.
Experience the new system of monarch power where your spread of choices is influence by the caliber of the man you have at the top. Do you have a warrior King? Then it is time to make war.
I'd be delighted if this means borrowing a little from Crusader Kings' character system, leaving the emphasis on nations but fleshing out the people who are at the heart (or head) of those powers. My hopes are given wings by another part of the feature list.
The great people and personalities of the past are on hand to support you. Thousands of historical events guide you, with unique different flavor depending on the country you play. Have more than a thousand historical leaders and over 4000 historical Monarchs at your disposal.
That's a lot of monarchs, so many that someone's going to have to invent a collective noun for them all. The collection of crowns will have more than three centuries to dominate, with the whole wide world available on a map that will be familiar to anyone who has pored over Sengoku or Crusader Kings 2. Across all that time and space, there are more than 250 countries available for player control.
There's not much detail on warmongering yet, although the suggestion in the pre-reveal hints that the 'bad boy' system has been dropped, or at least reworked, could have huge implications for how diplomacy and aggression are handled. Unilateral diplomacy should make things more complex and realistic.
Deeper diplomatic gameplay, with coalitions, threats, fleet basing rights and detailed support for rebels. Introducing unilateral opinions, a country may dislike you, but you can be neutral towards them.
Trade empires should be more interesting to manage as well and is it too much to hope at this point that as well as borrowing from Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis will be borrowing from Victoria as well? It is, after all, the middle child and it should be keen to learn from all of its siblings.
The trade system adds a new dimension to the great trade empires of the period. Seize control of key ports to expand your trade, support it with your powerful fleet and the wealth of the world will flow to you.
Full mod support and multiplayer, including co-op and up to 32 players, are also to be included. If EU IV is as stable and impressive as Crusader Kings 2, I'll be a happy historian indeed. And if I could take my save games from one into the next, extending alternate histories across many a century, I'd be even happier, but that feature is, as yet, not included. Much could change though since the release date is an agonisingly distant Q3 2013. At least it's not going to be rushed out of the door.
A long time to wait then, but I'm still going to be all excited right now. I particularly like the fact that this group of sequels could be starting from the start, with Crusader Kings 2 spearheading the way for EU, the systems becoming more complex as required with mechanics also being retained as needed. Perhaps then everything can feed forward again until I'm managing my way into the future.
I'll interrogate Paradox about all of these dreams and possibilities next week. Now, look at Britain, all woodsy and green.