Last week I was in New York, eating pizza and inventing all-new comparative metaphors for how cold it was (“colder than Bobby Kotick’s eyes”, “colder than a Game Gear’s battery”, “colder than a handjob from an eel”). Why? Because last week was the yearly Paradox Convention, where journalists are invited to meet a whole bag of developers and look at all of Paradox’s upcoming releases.
In short, we’ve got even more to look forward to in 2011 than we thought. I'll be going through these at top speed, so put on your protective goggles and we'll take a look. Do I have to remind you of the boy who once read a succinct article of mine and lost an eye? No? Good.
Crusader Kings II
Out Q1 2012
Plenty of fresh details on the sequel to everybody’s favourite political intrigue simulator. So many, in fact, that I’ll be posting about it in its very own preview tomorrow. Stay tuned!
King Arthur II
Out Q3 2011
Neocore seem to be going from strength to strength with their Total War-alike games, and the sequel to 2009’s King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame looks powerful. Having figured out that the strength of the series is in the fantastical imagery and RPG elements, the sequel is ramping both up significantly.
This time around you’ll have the chance to command (and fight) regiments of flying creatures (including “really powerful” Welsh dragons), and you’ll be fighting gigantic boss demons with new “Mighty” heroes capable of holding their own against dozens of opponents. We’ll also be enjoying lots more little choose-your-own-adventure vignettes, a revamped magic system and all the diplomacy that was introduced in the original game’s Saxons expansion.
As for plot, as you may have gathered from the trailer we’re in for a much darker trip. King Arthur has received a wound which will not heal, and since the King’s fate is linked to that of the land a massive gouge has appeared in Arthur’s kingdom and all sorts of demons are crawling out. This is no good, obviously, and it’ll be up to you to fix it, probably by kicking some witch ass. But which witch? An excellent question.
Defenders of Ardania
Out Q2 2011
This one’s a tower defense game set in the Majesty universe, with an added RTS streak. In addition to building towers you’ll also send troops forward to conquer the enemy base and cast spells. With three playable races and “interactive environments" this game might literally be quite fun.
Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter
Out Q3 2011
My time spent with the developers of 4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) space sequel Sword of the Stars II went a bit wrong. I ended up getting tangled in a long conversation with the lady writing the lore and backstory of the game, wherein she mentioned that their game wasn’t like Homeworld. After a confusing exchange it turned out that she’d co-written Homeworld and Homeworld: Cataclysm, at which point I perked up, she looked exhausted by my ignorance and if it’d been a party she probably would have made an excuse and left. But it was not a party, and the lady had to stay. Sorry, lady.
Supreme Ruler: Cold War
Out July 2011
The Supreme Ruler series is going stumbling back in time from its sci-fi setting, all the way back to the Cold War! Yes it is. As either the USA or the USSR, players will engage in proxy wars, manipulate their diplomatic options and watch a Defcon meter at the top of the screen go ticking steadily upwards. Excitingly, the initial shots of a nuclear war will, apparently, be modelled, which sounds even more horrific than the game simply ending.
Pirates of Black Cove
Out Q2 2011
Basically, think Sid Meier’s Pirates! except in a darker, more fantastical, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean style universe.
It’s such early days for this piratical sim that the devs were asking us what features should be in the game, but it still looks neat enough. Greg Tito of the Escapist suggested wenches. Then I suggested grog. The developers told me grog would definitely be in the game. Then Greg Tito of the Escapist decided to stop messing around and suggested whores. Then I suggested grog again. I think we were the last journalists the devs asked for advice.
Hearts of Iron: The Card Game
Out Q2 2011
This actually looks great, and I’m keen to see how it turns out. Paradox wants to move into the online collectible card game space, inspired by the fact that (and I’m taking this from Paradox’s resident Magic: The Gathering obsessive) Wizards of the Coast have done such a half-assed job of it with Magic: The Gathering Online.
Hearts of Iron: The Card Game will be their flagship release, and the only things it has in common with the hardcore WW2 strategy game of the same name is the brand name and the setting. The card game simply has players deploying a line of factory cards, using them to deploy army cards and then sending those army cards forward to attack using doctrine cards. Following our demonstration I already wanted to go pawing through all the cards they’ve made so far, which is an excellent sign.
The way Paradox are monetising it sounds smart, too. It'll be entirely free to play, with players receiving a number of free booster packs each week depending on how much they play, what achievements they unlock and how many “Propaganda Missions” they complete (how much they shout about the game on social networking sites). Booster packs are also given as rewards for touraments, but it’s the tournaments that have a small entry fee. Simply buying extra boosters will get Paradox their money, too.
Alright, how’s this for a setting. Salem is a casual massively multiplayer crafting game where everybody plays settlers in a fantastical re-imagining of 17th century New England. You’ll be able to forge into the wilderness and build yourself a homestead as a good little pilgrim, or travel a darker path and become a murderous witch (or anything in between, since there aren't any classes). The example of witchcraft that the developers plucked out of the air for us was that witches will be able to “curse their neighbours cow so it starts making blood instead of milk,” which is nice.
Nice, and completely at odds with the twee and cartoonish art style that the team are pursuing for the game. The in-engine stuff I saw looked more like Maple Story or Farmville than the concept art above (albeit in 3D), but while the developers did cite Farmville as a point of reference Salem will have more in common with the studio's previous game, Haven & Hearth, than anything else. Like Haven & Hearth, Salem will feature perma-death, which as I gather is quite an exciting feature! Thanks, Kotaku.
Naval War: Arctic Circle
Out Q1 2012
I know, I know. “These games are all well and good Quinns, but where’s my immersive RTS about contemporary naval warfare in the Arctic Circle with realistic modelling of weather and sensors?” It’s right here, you bastard! Just give me a minute!
Naval War: Arctic Circle is an immersive RTS about contemporary naval warfare in the Arctic Circle, with the player controlling and fighting aircraft carriers, submarines and even “orbital” units. Play will be focused around detection and evasion, with plenty of devastating guided weaponry ready and waiting to be employed if you can just find the sodding enemy, which is where the weather comes in.
Sounds interesting, no? No footage of the game itself just yet, but I’ll be watching this one on my radar.
That's what we call a "joke"
in this business I like to call
Gettysburg: Armored Warfare
Hm. You know what, I’ll give this one its own post too.
Pride of Nations
Out Q2 2011
Paradox has a couple of its trademark absurdly detailed historical turn-based strategy games coming out, and this one looks pleasingly glossy. Set during the 19th century’s scramble for colonies, it promises a rich array of colonial options and difficulties, as well as an awesomely complex economy. Just for starters, your region’s wealth is divided into government money and private income, and both are earned and spent in different ways.
Out Q4 2011
Dialling the clock back from the indsutry and riverboats of Pride of Nations, Magna Mundi sets out to provide something much older, but no less imposing. It lets you take command of one of 400 countries, from the Vatican to China to a province in India to an area of South America ruled by some tribe that nobody’s heard of, and simply deal with all the tribulations of being that country in a continent packed tightly with other countries.
As the developers kept saying to us, “You’re not trying to paint the world one colour.” No, in Magna Mundi you’re just trying to please the groups within your country, maybe expand here, unite the tribes there. Just enjoy the day-to-day struggles of a people. As somebody who always abandoned their Total War game the moment I had more than 12 cities, I understand and approve.
The Magna Mundi team are actually all modders for Europa Univeralis 3 who decided the game, with all its girth and heft, simply wasnt big enough. Excellently, they’re making sure Magna Mundi is even more mod-friendly than Europa Universalis 3, leaving the doors open for a bunch of modders to come in and decide that their game isn’t big enough, and so on. Presumably in 20 years the progeny of Magna Mundi will be so enormous as to dwarf history itself, and it will try and devour our reality. I say we kill the developers while we still can.
If you skipped to the end of this article, just take that with you. Kill all developers. That is all.