The first stream of Crusader Kings 3 started with a classic moment last week. It managed to surprise the developers by revealing their sister as their lover which, hearteningly, shocks them. Any game that can make the creator do a double-take is good by me. The whole 47 minutes is a surprisingly breezy look at the regicide and intrigue at the heart of their upcoming grand strategy sim. Even when they killed their brother with a duck.
Lead designer Alexander Oltner and community developer Rodrigue Delrue are to blame. The cruel and casual way they plan murder is hilarious. They talk about murdering kings like they're choosing pizza toppings. On selecting a wife for their king, "She's got good stats. She's a sadist." I could watch these guys play all day.
They start with a plan to unite the whole of Spain under King Alfonso VI, who has superb intrigue stats and seems capable of convincing anyone to do anything. That throws up the usual plots of who to kill, who to schmooze, what secrets to weed out, and what to keep quiet about. The sister is pregnant, and they choose ignorance over knowing if the baby is theirs. That creates a secret that another character could exploit. The threat of potential blackmail looms over every decision.
But it goes both ways. Obviously this all depends on the player's skill, but the new 'Hooks' system looks to be a powerful tool. Whenever you find out another character's secret, you have power over them that can be used. That's the ‘hook'. You could use it to force them to do your bidding right away or save it for a later date.
As they play, familial lines start splitting. The mother leaves, and they kill their brother with a poisoned duck (not a duke) before really digging into the menu, trying to work out who can fill the various vassaly vacuums being left behind by their ridiculous murder spree. The 'Secrets' panel of the UI, where all the confidential details of the player's character are stored, starts to pile up with the sort of acts that I felt uncomfortable reading.
I don't want to spoil anymore. It's so much fun to watch how they react to the vast plot twists that are thrown their way that you should just click below.
Gosh, that was dark. I really want to play it, now. You'll be able to grab it on Steam from September 1.