Posts Tagged ‘Paradox Interactive’

Stellaris Apocalypse enslaves and/or destroys the world today

Paradox strategy games tend to be restrained, but seems the publisher-developer has tired of being a wallflower and now fully intends to do big, noisy explosions with the best of ’em.

Apocalypse, out today, is a new expansion for their sci-fi 4X Stellaris, and is all about changing the physical rather than merely socio-political landscape of the galaxy. Which is to say, killing planets, enslaving their entire populations or otherwise removing whole worlds from the field of play.

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Wargame & Steel Division devs Eugen go on strike

Heavily armored picket lines square up.

It was only just last week that I was remarking at how pleasantly consistent Eugen Systems’ support of Steel Division and their Wargame series has been over the past few years. Sadly, it seems that constant stream of fresh new content may have come at great human cost.

Immediately after the release of the Back to Hell expansion for Steel Division, nearly half of the studio went on strike to protest sub-minimum wages, excessive crunch-time hours not fully compensated for and a failure to adhere to contractual agreements, according to this (French language) post on an industry union site.

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Cities: Skylines erects free trial weekend

Fancy building a little model city to coo at, watching little people and cars zipping around the streets you laid out? You can do that right now with Cities: Skylines, thanks to a free trial of the full game running until Sunday. Colossal Order’s 2015’s game is a pleasant little city-builder, one largely not mega-serious about crunching numbers and honing margins, and that’s nice. Our Alec will tell you it’s one of the best non-violent games but what about the violence of paving over meadows and choking rivers with bridges? Eh, Alec? Eh? You monster. Read the rest of this entry »

Surviving Mars is stranger than it seems

survivingmars1

The cubes are black, and shiny, and mobile. They hover in a neat, impossible stack outside one of my colony’s larger domes, clicking delicately about one another, always returning to the same overall shape, harming nobody. My robot rovers form a cautious circle around them while my scientists scratch their heads and bicker. I look at the cubes, one of the many Mysteries of Haemimont’s deceptively by-the-numbers management sim Surviving Mars, and the cubes, somehow, look right back at me.

My colonists are also looking at the cubes, noses pressed against their reinforced dome walls. The cubes are giving my colonists some funny ideas. One group considers them a threat, and wants me to blast them to bits with high-energy ions. Others hail them as gifts from some alien god, and want them brought inside the domes where they can be worshipped. A third, undecided faction argues that the cubes should be stored for further study. Everybody is at each other’s throats, and everybody is looking to me for a decision.

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Hearts of Iron IV: Waking the Tiger marches out in March

‘Waking the Tiger’ is not a ho-ho-hilarious euphemism for onanism, unless you want it to be, but rather the next Hearts of Iron IV expansion. It’ll focus on making China more unique in the WW2 grand strategy game, complete with several possible political paths the country might have gone down, along with expanding other systems in the game. Paradox are taking their time with this one as, after announcing Waking the Tiger way back in November 2017, they today announced plans to release it on March 8. For now, here’s a new dev video going over some of its additions: Read the rest of this entry »

Stellaris’s Apocalypse DLC will blow you away on Feb 22

Though the galaxy of Stellaris is filled with traces of strange and terrible events, we don’t really leave our own mark in extravagant ways. That will change a little with the launch of the sci-fi 4X strategy game’s planet-destroying Apocalypse expansion, which Paradox today announced they will release on February 22nd. T-minus 28 days later until I demolish your planets to build a hyperspace bypass, or to mine it for resources, or simply because it was spoiling my view. Or maybe I’ll trap you in a bubble to study you. Or robotise you. Options. Anyway. 28 days. Make your peace. Later taters. Read the rest of this entry »

Steel Division: Normandy 44 Back to Hell DLC announced

steeldivisionbacktohell

As Meat Loaf sang, “Like a bat out of hell, I’ll be promptly returning to hell when the morning comes.” Not one for sticking around to clean up the flat or make a fry-up after a night of partying, Mr Loaf.

Steel Division: Normandy 44, the rather spiffy WWII RTS developed by Wargame and R.U.S.E. studio Eugen, is also going back to hell. The hell of war. The next expansion is due on February 13th, and it adds seven new historical missions, five of which support multiplayer, and four new divisions for use in solo and multiplayer skirmish, with 58 new units. Perhaps most exciting of all, a free update will be released alongside the DLC, as is the Paradox way, and that extends co-op play beyond the Skirmish mode. If I can have a friend alongside me, I might actually be able to win a battle. Perhaps even an entire war.

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Crusader Kings 2 player records 700-year NPC game to find who gets “most kills” and “most children”

Guess which batch of murderers got the most kills?

Royal incompetence simulator Crusader Kings 2 is one of the best games ever. Over hundreds of years, sultans and kings create new empires and murder their families. Today a data science man gets in touch to say he recorded a 700-year game in ‘observation’ mode, pulled out all the data like a big reel of cassette tape, shoved it through some kind of magical process I won’t pretend to understand, and came up with statistics on several rulers. This also resulted in detailed “networks” of kills and marriages. The important thing is: this lets us see who had the most babies. Read the rest of this entry »

Civ V designer Jon Shafer parts with Paradox, “creative differences” blamed

Jon Shafer, the lead designer of Firaxis’s Civilization V and his own strategy game At the Gates, is gone from strategy specialists Paradox only six months after joining. Paradox say neither that he ditched the company nor that they fired him, rather that they have all “decided to part ways due to creative differences.” How enigmatic! We didn’t even know what he was working on. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s grand strat-a-day: Crusader Kings II and EU IV both expand today

ck2-jade-dragon

With this week’s release of Star Wars: Battlecrate 2 marking the end of big, noisy shooter silly season, there’s a whole lot more breathing space for a wider variety of games. Case in point, a double-whammy of DLC for Paradox’s grand strategy heaviest-hitters, Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV.

Big add-ons for both have landed today, with CK2: Jade Dragon putting China front’n’centre, and EUIV: Cradle of Civilization looking at the state of the Middle East and Asia during the early modern era.

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Hearts of Iron IV prods China in Waking The Tiger

The next expansion for WW2 grand strategy game Hearts of Iron IV will focus on China, developers Paradox have announced. Waking the Tiger is its name and making China more unique is its game. They’ll get new artwork for units as well as National Focus trees to play as either the Chinese Republic or Communist China. The expansion will also bring new alternate history options for Japan and Germany, including ways to topple Hitler and take Germany in a different direction. In a funny little twist, the announcement of this China-centric expansion comes just weeks after Hearts of Iron IV was removed from sale on Steam in China “due to a claim that the game does not comply with local law.” It’s like rain on your wedding day.

As ever with Paradox strategy expansions, a free new patch bringing game changes for everyone will accompany the launch. Read the rest of this entry »

Stellaris FTL changes are in the warp pipes

Chaos is a lapser

Paradox is packing everyone onto the space-highway, and reworking how FTL travel works in their galactic 4X game, Stellaris. While you can currently choose either Warp, Hyperdrive or Wormholes as your space empire’s means of travel, Paradox have decided that having asymmetrical movement methods – while “an interesting idea on paper” – creates too many problems for features they’d like to implement. Once the Cherryh update hits, every player will start with Hyperdrive technology only. That means every player will (with a few exceptions) be limited to travelling via pre-determined space lanes, which constitutes a major change to the game’s core systems. One of those X’s does stand for (shudder) Xploration, after all.

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Making a green utopia in Cities: Skylines – Green Cities

greencities

Cities: Skylines has always had an environmental bent – one of the first things you can build is a wind turbine – but with the Green Cities expansion, cleaning up polluted cities has become a major focus. There’s a slew of new buildings and policies that make it a little bit easier to keep your citizens from living under an oppressive layer of smog.

How easy, though? I’ve started up a new city to find out. My goal: a completely pollution-free utopia where everyone is happy and healthy. This is probably the nicest thing I’ve done in Skylines; certainly it’s nicer than the time I tried to flood my entire city in poo, or the time I turned off the heating to see how long it would take for everyone to freeze to death.

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Steam’s Halloween Sale is great for grand strategy

halloweensale

With Halloween fast approaching, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about typical spooky things: ghouls and ghosts, vampires and werewolves, marrying off my daughter to an appropriate suitor and the best trade strategy to dominate the Aegean. The Steam Halloween Sale is in full swing until November 1, and thanks to Paradox Interactive, it’s full of grand strategy games.

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Crusader Kings 2 fights a land war in Asia next month

Crusader Kings 2: Jade Dragon

Crusader Kings 2 is a strange thing. At first glance, it’s a wildly complex grand strategy game in the vein of Europa Universalis, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find something not far divorced from The Sims; an ant-farm sandbox driven not by goals or win-states, but the personal dramas of a cast of thousands.

As with The Sims, Crusader Kings 2 just keeps on growing, constantly reinvigorated by expansions adding new layers of complexity to the simulation. The latest of these – Jade Dragon – offers you the chance to puppeteer your way through seven hundred years of Chinese political history, starting this November 16th.

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Has Stellaris been improved by its updates?

stellaris-head

Hi! I’m an incredibly charismatic space otter, and I love you! Not just you! I love everyone, be they otter analogues, bird people, or particularly advanced fungal infections! I even love murderous robots, which I’m aware is not a great idea because they’re murderous robots!

At least that’s what StellarisScyldari would say, if they could do anything apart from bat their ears adorably on the game’s menu screens. Paradox’s Stellaris is freeform grand strategy, in the mould of the developer’s other games Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings, and as such is much more about numbers and menus than cut-scenes or narrative arcs. Read the rest of this entry »

Kings of the castle: the forty-person strategy game of Europa Universalis IV held in a Polish fortress, part 2

eu4-castle-big-2

We sent Brendan to a castle in Poland to witness a giant session of strategy game Europa Universalis IV [official site]. In this final report, he tells us of the manipulative merchant kings of India, and how blood money corrupted the world. You can read part 1 here

I’m eating soup with the ministers from Malaysia, Italy and Bavaria when the head diplomat of Mughal India comes to our table and starts talking about money again. His long black robe flows over his thin frame, a matching velvet cap on his curly dark hair.

“The Ottoman have trade locked up,” he says. The Italian minster smiles. You can always trust a Mughal to talk about markets. Soon, all the world leaders at the table are speaking in impenetrable detail about world affairs – intricacies and intrigue, money and merchants. It’s like sitting in a restaurant with the Illuminati. They smirk, they joke, they laugh. Tomorrow, they will be at war. Anywhere between 7-10 million people will die.
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Kings of the castle: the forty-person strategy game of Europa Universalis IV held in a Polish fortress, part 1

eu4-castle-big-1

We sent Brendan to a castle in Poland to witness a giant session of strategy game Europa Universalis IV [official site]. In the first of a two-part report, he tells us of war-hungry Germans, scheming Saxons and unlucky Irish – the victims and villains of an epic four-day LAN party

I wake up to the sound of muskets. Outside, the ministers of France, Japan and Hanover are shooting 17th century flintlock rifles at nothing in particular. Two helpers, holding belts of wooden jars strung together like sausages, refill the guns of the world leaders with an eardrum-shattering amount of gunpowder. I plug my ears as they fire into the air. I want to ask the ministers from Hanover about the war. One million people have died – 292,000 from starvation and freezing, the rest from bullets and sabers. But all talk of treaties, battles, deals and diplomacy has been put to one side, replaced with deafening bangs and childish giggles. I stuff my hands in my pockets and walk back to the castle. Welcome to the strangest game of Europa Universalis IV ever played. Read the rest of this entry »

40 people are playing Europa Universalis IV together in a real castle

Castling is a good tactic in chess but perhaps less so in EU4

[Update: the organisers have now set up a Twitch livestream for this, which you can see here]

Hello from Poland, where I am currently living in a castle with forty angry strategy gamers. The castle is Zamek Czocha, a 13th century fortress that has been occupied more times than an airport toilet cubicle. This week its invaders are the Grandest LAN Party, a giant multiplayer match of historical strategy game Europa Universalis IV [official site]. This is normally a game of slow and ponderous decisions on a big map of the world, but in this castle it also involves four days of clambering through secret chambers and crossing high balconies to talk to the representative of Norway about an underhanded alliance with Moldavia.
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Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization announced

I'd go for a little sleepie in a cradle right now.

Paradox’s historical strategy Europa Universalis IV [official site] will expand once more later this year with Cradle of Civilization, the next paid expansion. Its main focus is Muslim empires, expanding and reworking the Persian region and Islam. And as is the Paradox strategy way, the expansion will be accompanied by a free update bringing related changes for all players. Read the rest of this entry »