Crusader Kings III is officially happening. Paradox revealed during this year's PDXCON that the third entry in their acclaimed role-playing grand strategy series has been in the works for quite a while and is slowly nearing completion.
As expected from a sequel, Crusader Kings III will build upon what made its predecessor great while adding new elements of its own to the mix. Here's everything we know about Crusader Kings III, including information on its release date, gameplay, story, trailer, and more.
Crusader Kings III Release Date
Crusader Kings III will keep medieval role-playing and grand strategy fans waiting for a while, as it is currently schedule to only release next year.
While upon announcement the title was only given a 2020 release window, a financial report has since revealed that Crusader Kings III's release date is scheduled for late 2020 on PC.
Crusader Kings III Story
To anyone even remotely familiar with the series, Crusader Kings III not having a set-in-stone story that players get to follow shouldn't come as a surprise. In fact, one of the series' main draws has been its penchant for emergent storytelling. Instead of putting you in the shoes of one lord, lady, king or empress, Crusader Kings III will let you choose who you play as and forge your own story.
While external forces will have a say in the goings-on of the world, you'll forge major events through your own cunning or incompetence. A lengthy plot to assassinate a lord can mark a major step towards seizing a sizable chunk of land, while an unlucky streak could doom your dynasty to destruction when it finds itself without an heir, each contributing in their own way to the Crusader Kings III story.
Crusader Kings III Gameplay
Crusader Kings III's gameplay will continue along the lines of its predecessors while taking things into its own direction. Jumping in, you should still expect to take on the role of a ruler, whether large or small and do your best to keep your dynasty alive while navigating complicated medieval politics and relationships.
While birthing a worthy ruler to take your stead is your primary prerogative, you'll also have to maintain your family members happy or in check, while also keeping those in your court, but also nearby rulers, vassals or those above you in rank on your side. Crusader Kings III will emphasize the lifestyle aspect of each character through the introduction of skill trees focusing on different approaches to life.
You won't manage to befriend everybody, so you'll have to look out and thwart plots with the help of your spymaster. Manipulating others is done through the newly introduced hooks, and armies can be bolstered with powerful Knights. Of course, if you're more about playing a lustful ruler that cares little for things non-carnal, that'll likely be up to you.
It's worth keeping in mind that Paradox has confirmed the fact that Crusader Kings III won't launch with all the content that Crusader Kings II's DLCs introduced. Instead, the third entry looks to implement the popular aspects of the DLCs into its gameplay while focusing on depth.
On top of that, the introduction of guided advice is meant to make the grand strategy title more easily digestible for new players, offering tips as they progress in their playthrough.
Crusader Kings III Dynasties
In Crusader Kings III, Dynasties are now a collection of houses. Each house has its own house head, the most powerful of them being Dynast. House heads have both leverage on the other house members and can legitimize bastards, call House members to war, and demand conversion to their faith. Those distant in terms of blood from the House head can form their own Cadet branch, essentially creating a new House.
Crusader Kings III Dynasties have two resources to look after. The Level of Splendor marks how they're perceived by others, whereas Renown both contributes to the Level of Splendor but is also a spendable currency through which players can get claims, disinherit members, and more. Renown is also used in shaping your Dynasty's Legacy, which determines what it ends up being known for across the ages. Choices vary from leaving a mark as diligent lawmakers to erudite rulers or bloodthirsty conquerors.
Crusader Kings III Map
Crusader Kings III's map will have a similar scope to that of Crusader Kings II. While it won't feature China, it will launch with Tibet, and sub-Saharan Africa extended all the way to the Nigerian coast. The map will feature three zoom levels: a paper map emphasizing clarity when far out, a 3D map with political information on its second level, and a detailed map of countries and terrain types at its third zoom level.
Baronies will be made into their own provinces, providing more granularity and accuracy, while likely having players rethink the way they approach conquest. The majority of counties will host between two and five Baronies. You won't be able to play as a Baron, though, and neither will Baronies be able to break off from their County.
Crusader Kings III's map will also feature a variety of terrain, both passable and impassable, that will have various effects on gameplay.
Crusader Kings III War
When war comes knocking in Crusader Kings III, you'll have access to several different unit types, including levies and men-at-arms which can specialize to become a variety of units from light archers to heavy infantry and even units unique to specific cultures or map regions. Naturally, each unit has its own combat stats which you'll have to weigh when deciding your army's composition
Knight are actually pulled from your pools of vassals and courtiers with high Prowess, while Commanders and their martial skill can affect the overall performance of troops.
Battles in Crusader Kings III have a set unit width, relative to the size of the defender and the type of terrain you're fighting in. Advantage is a vital modifier that increases unit damage based on a variety of things like traits, terrain, buildings and your Commander's martial skill.
Units part of the combat line get damaged every tick, which eventually leads to them either dying or being routed. The latter sees them return once the battle is over. Commanders also roll during battle in an attempt to increase or even out Advantage.
After the fighting ends, the battle enters the Aftermath phase in which the victor can chase down and kill survivors. An efficient way to earn War Score involves sieging and taking control of enemy holdings, which isn't all that big a surprise.
Crusader Kings III Development and Buildings
Crusader Kings III looks to shake things up a bit when it comes to buildings and developing your territory. While buildings and a handful of other things will still be managed at a Barony level, the two vital factors of Development and Control will affect every county on the map.
Development is an indicator of a county's technological advancement and infrastructure level, directly affecting taxes and levies. It grows slowly throughout a game and radiates outwards from better-developed counties. The Steward council member will also have an Increase Development task, although it sounds like it will only have situational uses. Counties with specific terrain types, like Farmlands or Floodplains, are prime candidates for development.
Control, on the other hand, showcases how much power you have over a given county. It's, naturally, affected by sieges and war, but the local populace won't take too kindly to being led by someone not of their culture or religion, which will lower the Popular Opinion rating. Counties with low Popular Opinion of your ruler will cause trouble.
As far as Holdings are concerned, each County will have a set number of slots for Baronies. Crusader Kings III sees the return of the three holding types from its predecessor: Castles, Cities and Temples. Castles provide levies and fortifications, Cities provide taxes and encourage Development, while Temples provide a mixture of levies and taxes while increasing Control.
Each holding in Crusader Kings III has a number of building depending on its terrain type. Regular buildings will increase taxes and levies but can also contribute, in a lesser manner, to increasing fortifications or supply. Duchy Capital Buildings then step in to make things more interesting.
Buildable only in the capital Barony of any De Jure Duchy, they act as expensive specialized buildings that can grant bonuses in areas such as the effectiveness of specific units like Knights or Trebuchets. You'll need to hold their associated Duchy title personally if you want to build and maintain them active, though.
Topping things off are special buildings like the Tower of London or the Pyramids which can only be built in specific spots. Some of them come with 3D models on the map, each one granting the owner unique bonuses.
Crusader Kings III Schemes, Secrets, Hooks
Crusader Kings III brings several changes when it comes to the way in which it handles intrigue. The often-used murder plots in Crusader Kings II have been made into the new Scheme system that aims to make murder an option rather than a safe bet but also reduce the number of agents required, placing the focus on a few valuable people close to the would-be victim instead.
Schemes in Crusader Kings III have a chance of progressing one step each month, determined by the Owner’s Scheme Power and the Target’s Scheme Resistance. The values are affected by the relevant skills, Spymasters, the owner's Agents and a handful of other modifiers.
When a Scheme has progressed 10 steps it attempts to execute. The likelihood of success is based on the Scheme’s Success Chance, while Secrecy determines whether or not you'll be discovered. Scheme Owners are protected against discovery until their scheme executes. This, however, does not apply to Agents.
The Scheme system also supports other ways of handling things that are not Murder. Seduction and Sway are making a comeback, characters being able to be part of one Hostile Scheme like Murder and another Personal one like Sway at any given time.
Crusader Kings III Secrets are acquired when characters dabble into things that are either frowned upon or outright illegal. Spymasters can be used to discover Secrets. Once you have access to some you can share them or play into Hooks, which are Crusader Kings III's take on the Favour system of its predecessor.
Hooks can be used to force other characters to do what you want. They come in two types: Weak and Strong. The former can only be used once while the latter enter cooldown once used and take a while before they're available for use once more. Hooks can also be used defensively, as holding onto them can prevent others from being hostile towards you.
There are multiple types of Schemes, Secrets, and Hooks and if you can't quite blackmail another character, Crusader Kings III lets you "Fabricate Hook Schemes".
Crusader Kings III Council, Powerful Vassals, Spouses
At a base level, the Council in Crusader Kings III should be familiar to players of the previous title as it is made up of five positions, chancellor, steward, marshal, spymaster, and court chaplain, that rely on one particular skill each (diplomacy, stewardship, martial, intrigue, and learning). Each councilor has access to a special action they can perform.
State skills, however, are no more, councilor skills affecting how efficient they are at the tasks given. On top of that, tasks no longer reset when councilors change, replacing the artificial feeling of having to start over with some much-needed continuity.
A significant change in Crusader Kings III is that your spouse acts as a sixth councilor, having access to a variety of tasks that boost your stats. You can either choose a general form of assistance that provides small boosts to all stats or go for a bigger bonus to one particular stat.
While the court chaplain behaves much like a regular councilor, certain faiths replace them with bishops. They use a mechanic called leasing which allows them to control all levies and receive all taxes from every temple holding in your personal domain, alongside a fraction of taxes and levies from your vassals' bishops.
Keeping the Bishop happy can be quite a boon for your characters, especially how firing them, at least through non-lethal means, is seen as heresy.
Much like in CK II's Conclave expansion, powerful vassals in Crusader Kings III have the largest amounts of wealth and levies in the land. You'll often contend with them and, leaving them without a seat on your Council can have repercussions. They won't be satisfied with just any seat either, being wildly unfit for the role mattering very little to them.
in Crusader Kings III, they also have the veto of changing your succession. When it comes to elective successions they generally receive more votes thanks to their powers and if you manage to convince them to join up on a scheme, they act as powerful agents.
Crusader Kings III Characters
Characters in Crusader Kings III will still have skills and traits that determine how good they are at doing various things, however, Personality Traits are getting more attention. Simply put, they play a bigger role in determining how your character acts. Characters will also tend to gravitate towards the 3 Personality Trait mark, to be better defined.
Each Crusader Kings III character's personality will be summed up in two words, such as "Spineless Atheist". Taking this definition into account when assigning different roles to characters is quite vital, as atheists might not be great choices for leading clergy.
The Prestige and Fame of a character, while still usable as currency, now contribute to their Level of Fame and Devotion. Wher the Level of Fame increases the opinion of all secular rulers, lets you recruit more Knights, and unlocks special interactions, Devotion determines how liked you are by the clergy. The two features span five levels from 0 to 5.
Performing dishonorable acts now costs you both Prestige and Levels of Fame, being a harder choice to make.
Crusader Kings III makes the move to fully-animated 3D portraits for its characters. The move not only leads to more detailed characters but also lets the impact of various genetic traits, like ugly or beautiful, be more easily seen.
Crusader Kings III's portraits will also show more of characters, bringing clothing – which helps determine social status at a glance –, aging, and disease into the mix.
Crusader Kings III Courts, Guests, Wanderers
Crusader Kings III's Court is made up of your landless subjects but will generally have fewer members than its predecessor since those without duties or reasons to stay will leave and search for new adventures. Thankfully, they do notify you before leaving.
Aside from Courtiers, Guests will arrive at your court, interact with Courtiers and play a part in various events. Guests stick around for a few years prior to leaving and can be recruited to your Court, should you deem them worthy. Invitation Decisions and a Dynasty perk will play into increasing the likelihood of specific types of useful Guests visiting your Court more often.
Characters who leave your Court, are banished or lose all their land will become Wanderers, traveling the roads in search of someone who can help them with their ambitions, be it pressing Claims or otherwise. Wanderers can prove especially prone to develop their own interesting backstories, as they accumulate a wealth of experience while traveling across the world.
Crusader Kings III Lifestyles
Crusader Kings III's Lifestyles are very different from those found in Crusader Kings II. They now come with skill trees similar to those found in RPGs, characters being able to gain experience and unlock perks that grant them different bonuses.
Crusader Kings III features five different lifestyle categories: Diplomacy, Martial, Stewardship, Intrigue and Learning. Each category comes with three skill trees. Focuses have also made their way over and, just like in Crusader Kings II, you can select the ones whose immediate bonuses you need the most.
Each Focus also has its own series of events. Focusing on Wealth can lead to events where you can get extra money from taxes, while Temptation paves the way to events that let you subtly manipulate those around you. Gaining experience and unlocking perks is only possible after choosing a Focus.
Every few years characters unlock a new perk by spending experience – gained both through active and passive means –, unlocking stuff like special modifiers, decisions, casus bellis, and even schemes. Get to the bottom of a tree and your character will unlock a powerful trait.
Fifteen traits can be unlocked through skill trees, the remaining ones being obtained from special events and activities. Although characters only start dealing with Lifestyles when becoming adults, their education plays into which Lifestyle they'll have an affinity for.
Perks can be completely reset once per lifetime at the cost of incurring a high amount of Stress, which is a new mechanic introduced in Crusader Kings III.
Crusader Kings III Lifestyle Events
Crusader Kings III's Lifestyle events won't be simple things to check off on your way to a powerful Trait, resulting instead from the time characters dedicate to a Focus.
A character with the Stewardship – Domain Focus will begin receiving events related to the management of the domain and the holdings within it. You decide how lenient, fair or corrupt your character is based on how you choose to handle the various Lifestyle events.
Crusader Kings III's Lifestyle events are built around the Focus that triggers them. Hence, a character with the Intrigue – Temptation Focus will have to deal with events involving seduction, desires, and covertness. These events let you seduce or manipulate courtiers into revealing information or doing favors for you, plant spies and other similar activities.
Characters will, however, still have to deal with events related to other Focuses within their Lifestyle, which add some welcome variety to the mix.
Crusader Kings III Tutorials, Tooltips, Encyclopedias
Crusader Kings III intends to have a UI that's much more easily readable than its predecessors and tutorials that won't require players to spend hours reading about the game's hidden buttons and mechanics instead of actually playing the game.
Crusader Kings III's tutorial puts players in the role of Ireland's Petty King Murchad mac Donnchad of Munster, guiding players through different parts of the user interface and mechanics.
Players will learn how to navigate the map, interact with characters and get married as they perform those actions instead of reading about them in a box of text.
Crusader Kings III will also make use of tooltips to communicate relevant information to players. Certain terms in a tooltip will be highlighted blue. Hovering above those terms opens up another tooltip, quickly explaining mechanics and concepts.
Tooltips can be set to either timer lock or action lock, determining what makes them lock in place and remain on the screen. These options also come in handy for more seasoned players that need a quick refresher on one concept or mechanic.
Once you beat Crusader Kings III's tutorial, the game will default to Reactive Advice. This feature tracks your game's state and offers advice through clickable purple icons, based on what you're encountering. If you're not receiving tax from someone, for example, you're likely to get a purple icon which, when clicked, explains why that is.
Reactive Advice can be reset to show tips you've already seen and is also usable in multiplayer. Alerts, informing you of various important happenings in your kingdom and the world, are still part of Crusader Kings III.
Crusader Kings III's Issues tab will keep track of such elements as the claims that you can press, the duchies you can form or when you've spent all your available gold. You'll also receive Suggestions based on your game state every couple of months, reminding you of actions that could prove to be worth pursuing.
Lastly, Notifications provide briefer bits of information on matters that aren't always urgent, while Toasts show conclusions of events or results of dice rolls.
As much as Crusader Kings III aims to provide all relevant information while playing, it will also feature an Encyclopedia where players can find all of its concepts explained in-depth.
The Encyclopedia comes with a search function and will dynamically update as its contents get changed through updates and DLCs. Even modded content can make its way into the in-game Encyclopedia.
Crusader Kings III System Requirements
As Crusader Kings III is still quite far from its 2020 release, exact system requirements weren't shared just yet. We do know, however, that it'll require a 64-bit processor and operating system.
We'll update this section once Paradox reveals the Crusader Kings III system requirements.
Where can you buy Crusader Kings III and how much does it cost?
Crusader Kings III already has a Steam page where you can follow and wishlist it. It will also be available on the Xbox Games Pass for PC at launch.
No details on price were currently shared and they're likely to be revealed closer to launch.
Crusader Kings III Announcement Trailer
While it doesn't jump into gameplay just yet, the Crusader Kings III Announcement Trailer does an excellent job of laying down what the game is about. A narrator lays down what is expected of one young William, an infant, who is also the heir of a "great legacy", set to command massive armies, manage wealth and ensure his bloodline's continued existence through marriage.
But before the trailer is over, young William learns that "there are many lessons to learn" as a cloaked figure sets free a snake in the infant's cradle. All in all, the trailer is a fairly chilling rendition of the ruthlessness you can expect from Crusader Kings III.