entmoot's Europa Universalis IV (PC) review

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  • entmoot has written a total of 3 reviews. The last one was for Conquest of Paradise
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The Fourth Coming: Europa Universalis IV

Europa Universalis IV is, oddly enough, the fourth iteration of the Europa Universalis series from Paradox Interactive. With EUIV, you will be able to live out your wildest fantasies of nationalistic domination and map painting tomfoolery, all the while securely nestled in your leather clad armchair. But, is it worth the colossal investment of time and cerebral real-estate?

Things have changed, things have stayed the same –

What major gameplay differences could Paradox Interactive have implemented to warrant a fourth edition of their imposing strategy title? Monarch points, obviously. I don’t even know

So Much Happening Here.

EUIV has added a new in game currency for you to wield: the monarch points system. This time around leaders are of greater importance (until you reach an early form of election based republics), taking heavy cues from the leader system used in Crusader Kings II. Leaders lead directly to either increases or decreases in your three points systems: Administration, Diplomacy, and Military. Unlike Europa Universalis III with its technological research sliders, EUIV has you hoarding points like a greedy king waiting for disaster to strike, and disaster strikes frequently. An inherent beauty of the new points system comes from the allocation of your pocketed points. Do you save you Military points to boost your soldiers and ships to a higher level, or do you quell the angry voices of rabble with some “harsh” Treatment? All three point categories have a system of balances to make your use of points more interesting and dynamic. Oddly, Administrative points take the lion’s share as they are used for stability as well as technological advancement. The mere fact that boosting stability can’t be bought as it could in previous EU games makes the rebel factions more dangerous and more dynamic.

Let me roll on a tangent about those rebels for a moment.

Rebels

Paradox has been quite proud of their advancements in the department of Rebel annoyance. Those loathsome rebels are better able to organize their efforts, effectively shutting your country down and enforcing their demands for lower taxes, different governmental policies, and changes to your royal hairdo. Maybe not the last one, but you get the point. Rebels Rebels spawn more frequently and can now easily influence their neighboring regions to complain about something unworthy as well. The Revolt Risk and Stability tab can tell you more about Rebel demands, how close they are to completing their goals, and what a well placed leader could do to bolster their ranks. I spent a lot of time in this tab and I was impressed at how much information is displayed and available, making the managerial aspect of EU more enjoyable. These are dangerous times in EUIV so you better get good at rebel hunting, especially when they threaten to disrupt your vital trade flow.

Trade: I Still Don’t get it.

Trade is an obtuse system — always has been. Paradox has never been able to fully implement a meaningful yet understandable trade system, though that’s not to say they haven’t tried with EUIV. Gone are trade hubs, a major aspect of trade in prior EU games, and instead you are given trade nodes and trade routes. A trade route connects trade nodes and the nodes are where your merchants will go to do their dirty dealings. Now you can re-direct trade to favor your merchants or you can directly collect from a trade node. The problem is that the numbers and graphs don’t relay a sense of being or happening when dealing with trade. I still feel like I’m sending my merchants out arbitrarily and hoping that they are properly collecting or forwarding trade so it is beneficial to me. At least it is now possible to block centers of trade while at war, effectively cutting off your enemy from their sweet supply of Au. Without gold and without trade, there is nothing you can do as foreign legions storm your capital.

To Ramble or Rumble…

The new enemy and rivals system is interesting and really fills out the interactions with those countries that you keep coming to blows with; enemies are those countries that view you as a rival. Rivals are countries that you believe you will contact often, giving you boosts to prestige, spy offense, and diplomatic power when brokering a peace deal. Because of your obvious attempts to keep a super blobbing country from making an ever larger blobbing mess, you will find that you are drawn into combat frequently, especially when you designate a country as a rival. With this comes an obvious focus on military changes. Conquering has become more rewarding and somewhat more annoying. That’s not to say the complexity leads to annoyance, but more that the combat system favors the defenders to a somewhat extreme degree. I’ve seen an advanced army of 16K men, constituted of infantry, cavalry, and artillery crumble before a rebel force of 5k men. What!? Like your governmental leader, your military leaders can give huge bonuses to your army as well as your technological advancements. Still, if you have played prior Paradox strategy games, other than Hearts of Iron, you should find yourself in familiar lands when in combat.

Too bad I couldn’t Conspire at this level…

How Not to End a Review:

Do you believe in the Great Man Theory? Europa Universalis IV does, but it works to its benefit without making the game too easy or dependent on luck. Although the quality of your leaders will impact your game, the focus of your kingdom, the ability of your counsel, and the managerial skills that you possess will greatly outweigh a random terrible leader, even though they can really screw things up and usually want to make you turn the game off and walk away in a fuming mess of historical anger… I am able to appreciate Europa Universalis more because of this fourth iteration. When things went inevitably down hill, I would have loaded up a prior save before my downfall. Now I continue to play, letting history roll on while I try and rebuild my fragile empire. Europa Universalis IV is so jam packed with content that you could spend many, many hours learning its intricate systems of diplomacy, trade, and warfare; yet, you can still play the majority of the game from the important notifications that sit patiently at the top of the screen. Europa Universalis IV has taught me to accept the terrible moments in my gameplay, to accept my mistakes, to begrudgingly capitulate to random events, and to finally bask in the glory of my magnificently a-historical empire. Thank you, Europa Universalis

2 Comments
Posted by chiablo

Great review. You didn't really cover the major differences when compared to Crusader Kings II, but that's fine. I would hope people who are curious about Paradox strategy games would know the differences by now, but just in case:

CK2 is about people, EU4 is about countries. EU4 is more like Civilization, CK2 plays like Game of Thrones.

Posted by Entmoot

Thanks. They are different games so I didn't really want to compare them -- I get it that CK2 was the launching point for most gamer's foray into Paradox Interactive games.

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