You’ll have already read our Hearts of Iron IV preview, which formed one of two major announcements coming out of this year’s Paradox Convention. If that wasn’t exciting enough, not only do we have two new expansions for Crusaders Kings II and Europa Universalis IV, but we’ve also got a second brand new game coming from the masters of strategy, Runemaster. To round off the show, we were treated to some hands-on time with Warlock 2, as well as some updates on Magicka: Wizard Wars & War of the Vikings.
Runemaster and Warlock 2 we’ll cover in separate articles, but for moment let’s recap what else Paradox were talking about this year:
Europa Universalis IV - Wealth of Nations
For a while now, Paradox have gotten into a rhythm of doing thematic expansions. Some are big, like Old Gods or Conquest of Nations, and then some are smaller, less feature-led expansions like Sons of Abraham and the new Europa Universalis IV expansion – Wealth of Nations.
With a focus on trade, Wealth of Nations will still carry a consistent theme, but not as much will be high-visibility features. Thomas Johanson, the project leader for EUIV, told us that they want to expand the ways in which nations can be drawn into conflict. Trade is something that is vital to the game, and in some cases vital to the economic survival of smaller nations. It’s also a massive cause for war that is seldom used, Paradox feel, so they want to change that so that you or the AI have more reason to get up in each other’s grill over money.
First and foremost, new diplomatic options not only allow you to force other people to give you trade without going into a war (with a trade-off that prevents you from then also just declaring war on them anyway), but you can also make other people think that their rivals are stealing their trade, and force them into conflict. You’ll also be able to fabricate a Trade Dispute. You can hire or assign your own ships to become privateers, which won’t give you any additional trade power but it’ll leech power from your enemies. If they find out what you’ve done though, they’ll have a cause for war.
If you’re a country that’s fairly land-based, you can designate a ‘Trade Capital’ along the coast which will give you extra income and other goodies, and generally speaking they’ve buffed merchants working in inland trading nodes.
Finally, East India Companies are being given more of a look at – before, they were just decisions you could take if you took a province in the Indian Sub-Continent. Now however, you can ‘create’ a trade company and give them provinces. They won’t be as autonomous as Colonial Nations, but you won’t be able to collect manpower of tax from these provinces, the trade-off being you get increased trade power. The details are still being worked out though – for example what happens to production money? Also, historically speaking the East India Companies were given a lot of autonomy, just like the Colonial Nations were, but with a mandate for business and security, as opposed to just building a new home.
This won’t be the biggest expansion they’ve ever done, but making trade more interesting could definitely improve the game for trade-based nations. Also worth pointing out that in the free patch that’s going to come with this expansion (no news yet on what will be gated and what won’t), they’ll be adding a ‘Major Power’ system, similar to the set-up in Victoria 2. Wealth of Nations is scheduled for a Spring release this year, but no set date just yet.
Crusader Kings II - Rajas of India
Fresh off of Sons of Abraham, Crusader Kings II is going full-steam ahead with a brand new expansion. True to what Henrik said when we interviewed him a few months back, it’s nothing what I was expecting. Rajas of India expands the map by 300 provinces and several hundred miles to the Indian Subcontinent. India during the time-period of Crusader Kings II actually fits in quite well, so I’m told, and the move also allows kingdoms like Cumania and Perm, who are artificially cut-off in the game at the moment, to get more of the land they’re owed.
If you’re not into buying Rajas of India, the free patch will increase the map size as well, so you’ll get the added area for free, you just won’t be able to play as any of the sub-continental rulers. If you do pick it up, you’ll find India is divided by three religions – Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. They’ve been abstracted into three very different ideologies – Hindus are more ‘aggressive’, meaning they have better casus belli options for expansion. Buddhists are more thoughtful and philosophically focused, and will have access to a lot of tech bonuses, while Jainists are pacifists, who won’t have great casus belli’s but will be able to rule provinces of a different religion easier.
Other ‘flavour’ features include the Indian Caste system, flavour events that deal with reincarnation, and Henrik pointed out that Hinduism was more of a collection of different faiths, given that they had a fairly large pantheon of deities – this means your character can also choose which God to follow, which will form part of your ruler’s character and make-up.
As far as other ‘free’ content goes, with the abandonment of the non-steam version of the game, CK2 is being brought up to speed with all the latest gizmos and gadgets – Steam Workshop will be integrated properly, along with the SteamWorks multiplayer backend and other improvements, even a borderless windowed mode, If you cared about that. The icing on the cake though is definitely the addition of a historically accurate Jewish Kingdom in East Africa – you can’t really top that. Other minor changes include a re-write of the decadence system.
Rajas of India is due out in March, although that’s probably going to be late March and ‘at the earliest’ was also used, so don’t be surprised if it slips to April.
War of the Vikings & Magicka Wizard Wars Update
We’ve already done a hands on for War of the Vikings and Wizard Wars (although we’re due another proper sit down with Magicka soon), but I thought I’d dedicate a brief section to how these two games are doing.
War of the Vikings has finally added class customization to the game. You can now edit and choose your load-outs from a range of options. Unlike War of the Roses though, everything is essentially cosmetic. You can choose whether you want to wield an axe or a sword, but different sword variants essentially do the same damage – it’s all just for show. War of the Vikings is being set-apart from its Medieval counter-part by making it more skill based – everyone is more or less equal, so they’ve just got to be better than their opponent.
If everyone is essentially equal though, what’s the point in customization? Showing off, essentially. The more you work up the levels, the more fancy and colourful equipment you gain access to. If you see a guy with a bitchin’ cloak, a massive beard, and sword that’s on fire, then I suggest you run away because you know that guy’s been around a long time. Tied to this is shield customization. An extension of the Coat of Arms feature from Roses, shield patterns can be created so that your enemies will recognise you from the pattern. This will help breed friendly rivalries and emergent meta-gaming within a larger battle. Does the guy with the Foxtail shield keep killing you? Switch to an archer and snipe him from afar for his insolence.
As an additional feature, Fatshark have added female avatars to the game. They’ve even taken the care and attention to historically justify why a female warrior might be present in the battlefield. Personally, I felt like they were bowing down too much to the history element by trying to justify this, but it didn’t feel like they were grasping at straws either. Justified or not, having female avatars is one of those features that will be appreciated by those who’d want one, and isn’t really a big deal for anyone else (apart from the historians among you, but you’ll get over it). More than that, they’ve dressed their females in appropriate attire.
On the Wizard Wars side, in recent months they’ve been adding in more items and ‘Magicks’, as well as officially launching the in-game store, but the main highlight of the show was the new mode – Duel.
Duel mode is completely different from the stock 4v4 MOBA-esque match. In Duel, four players enter an arena level, and then fight two at a time until one person reaches six kills. It’s incredibly skill-driven one vs one fighting where you only have yourself to blame. It also serves a dual purpose of essentially being a light-trainer for those watching on the side-lines, so they can learn from other people and start to recognise the tells and counters. What’s really interesting about this game mode is that the players game-styles will evolve over the time the more they watch and observe how their opponents fight. Spam tactics or one-trick ponies will soon find themselves countered and out-classed if they don’t adapt, and it’s a great way of learning how to play this game ‘on-the-fly’, which is true to the core heart of the ‘Magicka’ experience.
Wizard Wars is really coming along in leaps and bounds – the new Magicks offer really fun and innovative power-plays that differ from the stock element combo, which only has a finite amount of ‘creativity’ in it in such a competitive setting. Being a highly-competitive game though, Wizard Wars really needs to look towards setting up an ESports community that will genuinely reward people for all their hard work.
And that’s it for our round up. Stay tuned for further reports on Runemaster and Warlock II: The Exiled. Not the most exciting year Paradox has ever had (although I’m insanely happy about Hearts of Iron IV), but there is still 11 months to go. The talk of the two ‘big’ announcements they have coming later in the year has me very intrigued. I personally think this will be the year that Paradox properly enter the ‘big leagues’, and it’ll be the year that they show the world they deserved to be there all along.