I think there comes a time when a game, or a concept within that game, stops working. Not in the technical sense, but in the very vague, wishy-washy sense where something breaks in your mind, and you suddenly realise you’re not having as much fun as you used to. It’s not a universal thing – it’ll happen to different people at different times, but having spent some time playing the new Crusader Kings II expansion – Rajas of India – I think it’s finally happened to me. Which is a shame, because Crusader Kings II is a really fun game, and worthy of anyone’s time.
|There's a lot of ground to play around with playing as an Indian character. You may never work your way west that much.
Rajas of India, as the name suggests, deals with the peoples of the Indian sub-continent. During the time-frame of the game, India had a system which, according to the devs, perfectly fits in with the way CK2 works, and so was a great target for them to expand the game. They’ve expanded the map before – mainly focusing on Africa and the Saudi peninsular previously - but now you can go all the way over the Hindu Kush and into India itself. As far as number crunching goes, there are now 300 new provinces, three new religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism), several types of ‘Indian’ cultures, new terrain types, and a host of other improvements, tweaks and additions. It’s a sizeable update, to be sure, although a fair bit of it is included for free in the 2.1 patch that was released at the s
The thing is though, at some point I can’t help but feel the game is being ‘copy and pasted’ into new areas. Now, on one level, of course that’s what’s happening – Crusader Kings 2
was designed to work in a certain way, and any new additions to the map have to follow the same guidelines otherwise it’ll probably require too much work to fit in. On another level though… nothing’s really changed. I’m doing the same thing I always do when playing Crusader Kings 2
, I’m just in a different area of the map, and the colour of my family’s skin is different and, honestly, it’s getting kind of stale now. I think it would have been nice to have seen more unique culture mechanics or something genuinely ‘unique’ to playing as an Indian raj. The Pagan Norse factions felt fresh, but these don’t. I’ll admit – a bit portion of this is that I’m not really interested, in a personal level, in Indian history about this time, so make no mistake a lot of my dissatisfaction is all on me. But If I’m thinking this, who else?
I also think though that playing as an Indian Raj isn’t as interesting as playing a ruler elsewhere in the world. The three regions of the area – Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, while still able to follow the base rules of differing religions and how they interact with each other, actually seem to get on really well. This basically removes a lot of the tension from the experience as far as religious unrest goes, and since they have sects, as opposed to Heresies (and no religious head like the Pagans), there’s even less complexity there now. Also, unlike Norse Paganism, you’re already considered ‘reformed’, so you can’t even use that as an in-game goal.
There’s still plenty of good stuff though. Indian leaders get a lot more culture-specific events, which add nice flavour – choosing a patron deity; finding a Guru, Diwali feasts etc… and different religions have different values in place of ‘Piety’ (Karma, etc…) You also can’t help but have a healthy appreciation of anything that adds in War Elephants. In fact, armies have been revamped slightly so that all ‘unique’ units like the War Dumbo are managed more effectively. There are more event and event chains, there’s a new ‘relations’ UI tab so you can see your character’s various personal relationships all in one place, and of course Steam Workshop has finally been integrated into the game, following the discontinuation of the ‘GamersGate’ version.
|Imma going to stomp on you
I think another part of it comes down to something Henrik told me
when I spoke to him last year regarding the plans for ‘DLC Phase 2’, of which Rajas
is part of. He was talking about how they’re shoving more content then ever into the free patch so that people can still continue to play with each other and enjoy the game, without feeling that they’re missing out on anything if they choose not to buy the expansion. When you purchase Rajas of India
, all you’re really buying is the ‘unlock’ for the Indian factions. Therefore, I imagine you have to really enjoy the idea of playing as an Indian Raj in order to want to buy this game. So, Rajas of India then. It’s ok, but it’s probably not the best piece of DLC they’ve put out. Rather, it’s probably not the best purchase you’d make with regards to this game. The amount of work that’s gone into this update is fantastic, but again, 99% of it is available for free. I think the idea of ‘copy/pasting’ the CK2 mechanics to different cultures has finally run its course. Going forward, I’d like to see more DLC’s along the lines of what EUIV is currently doing – more thematic and underlying mechanic changes, as opposed to grand gestures, or just expanding the map. There’s little playing as an Indian Raj you haven’t seen elsewhere, and as much as I hate to say it, you can probably give this one a pass and not miss out on much.
CRUSADER KINGS II: RAJAS OF INDIA VERDICT
So, Rajas of India then. It’s ok, but it’s probably not the best piece of DLC they’ve put out. Rather, it’s probably not the best purchase you’d make with regards to this game. The amount of work that’s gone into this update is fantastic, but again, 99% of it is available for free. I think the idea of ‘copy/pasting’ the CK2 mechanics to different cultures has finally run its course. Going forward, I’d like to see more DLC’s along the lines of what EUIV is currently doing – more thematic and underlying mechanic changes, as opposed to grand gestures, or just expanding the map. There’s little playing as an Indian Raj you haven’t seen elsewhere, and as much as I hate to say it, you can probably give this one a pass and not miss out on much.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Nothing really stood out at me while playing this particular expansion, but the tradition of emergent gameplay stories still holds true: I was usurped by my daughter, and then the one remaining County I had left was forcibly absorbed into a different neighbouring Kingdom. That was weird.