Paradox Interactive’s penchant for publishing games that take on historical time periods is one that has built their entire reputations. While they do have misses from time to time, they do get hits with the likes of Mount & Blade and War of the Roses. We wait for the awesome-looking War of the Vikings, here is the latest installment of Paradox’s most well-known titles.
Europa Universalis is one of the popular titles in the grand strategy genre, which is turn-based gameplay on a grand scale that features various aspects of warfare like commanding armies, managing logistics and manpower, and governing nations. It’s not a genre for the faint-hearted, the casual, and the totally uninterested. The previous game, Europa Universalis III, was released way back in 2007 and remained a major title in the genre for about 6 years before this new title, Europa Universalis IV.
The main premise of this game is to put players in the shoes of the great kings and generals throughout history from the 15th to 19th century, when imperial powers fought each other for global dominance. You can then take over from a chosen time period and be able to come up with “what if” scenarios, like France conquering England or Russia and so on. You can play as almost any country around the map in the selected time period, like Napoleonic France, The Golden Horde, Tsarist Russia, and hundreds more. If you’re a long-time wargamer, then you’ll be familiar with the basics. But if you’re new to this genre, then it will take some time for you to know your way around it.
There is much that this game has to live up to, considering what its predecessor had achieved in this little but sophisticated corner of the video gaming world. The best thing about this game is that it has refined the gameplay system from Europa Universalis III, making it much less slow and tedious. Also included is a revised ideas system that potentially lets you create customized countries, so you can finally test your theories on whether things will be better if the mistakes made by your real-life historical counterparts weren’t made. While that was also possible in the previous games, it’s no longer limited to just military matters in this game. You can view the world in various ways, from their allegiances to even the gods they worship, and you can use that information to your advantage.
Since this is such a deep game, you should expect bugs like with most other grand strategy titles upon release. Patches should get them fixed, and the grand strategy gaming communities online can fill you in with the details. Also, this game will most likely lag in older machines as it tries to crunch the numbers and determine where is what and who did what to who over and over again throughout the whole time. Maybe the improved graphics also contribute to it, but it’s not exactly a Crytek game. The load times are a bit long due to how much stuff there is to put up as the game starts. This really is a game that’s best for patient players, not those with short attention spans who would rather play something like Black Ops II.
Of course, the greatest flaw in this game, as with most Paradox titles, is its accessibility. There are a whole lot of gamers who are interested with historically accurate games of various sorts, which is part of the reason why franchises like Civilization, Age of Empires, and even Assassin’s Creed did so well. Unfortunately, EU4 requires you to not only be marginally curious, but wholly interested in order to really learn all its intricacies. If you go in with only a passing fancy, then you’ll find yourself not touching it much after a few hours of fiddling around. But for what it does though, it does very well, and both veterans and very interested beginners will truly appreciate the level of detail put into this game.
This is a niche title that is mostly for the serious historical grand strategy gamer, like with Hearts of Iron III, Victoria II, Sengoku, Darkest Hour, and Crusader Kings II. If you don’t know any of those titles, then EU4 will take you some time to get into, or maybe none at all. But if games like Civilization V has whet your appetite for some really deep strategy gameplay, then this game is definitely the next step for you.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 8.5/10