Europa Universalis III, the massive grand strategy title from Paradox Interactive, receives it’s forth expansion, adding yet more content to what is already a massively full and highly complex game. Much desired by the fans of the game, does this expansion offer anything to entice newcomers to shun their normal lives and take the country of their choice to greatness?
Paradox Interactive are undoubtedly the masters of the grand strategy genre and the Europa Universalis series is one of their masterpieces, offering strategic gameplay that can change the course of history and is only limited by the players imagination. But for those that have never dipped their toes into the murky waters of a grand strategy title, a little explanation of the basics is in order.
Played across a detailed map of the world, Europa Universalis III gives the player control over any country that existed within the games time frame. This time frame runs from 1399 to 1820, providing that two of the earlier expansion packs have been installed. The two expansions in question, Napoleon’s Ambition and In Nomine, are both included in the Europa Universalis III Complete bundle which would be the best way to get into this game from newcomers.
Anyway, once the player has chosen a country and decided upon a period of time in which to play, complete control of that country will fall upon the player. With an incredible amount of depth and an emphasis on historical accuracy, the player will be responsible for all manner of decisions and choices, ranging from trade and warfare through to politics and diplomacy. All of the options available to the player may seem overwhelming to begin with, but a reasonably easy to follow tutorial and a huge online community can help anyone with a bit of time and patience get the most out of this strategic behemoth.
The objective of the game is, refreshingly, whatever the player wants it to be. Should they wish to become rulers of the known world, well that is an option, albeit a slightly lofty one. But for the less ambitious an objective as simple as surviving for a given amount of time may be more attainable. The AI in EU3 is tough and will make even the most simple objective difficult to achieve with all of the other nations doing their utmost to further their own causes whilst simultaneously preventing the player from interfering.
Whilst Europa Universalis III does an amazing job of recreating the world during this period, the emphasis has been mostly on Europe. Until now that is. The latest expansion, Divine Wind, gives China and Japan some much needed attention.
Offering the internal factions of China to manage and the four major Daimyo’s in Japan to be controlled, Divine Wind expands this area of the world to give the player far more choice when playing. But this is not all that the expansion has to offer.
The graphical updates made in this expansion are a big deal to the players, using the graphical enhancements from Victoria II, another of the grand strategy titles from Paradox. Whilst this has no doubt made EU3 a much nicer game to look at, it still remains one of the least inspiring games that I have ever seen. But this is the curse of the grand strategy game and no-one can expect a game that is played across a massive map of the world to look especially good. Those that have played EU3 previous to this expansion will appreciate the enhancements, I am sure.
Of course the tweaks do not stop there. The diplomacy aspect of the game has been improved to offer the player many more options regarding alliances and the trade system has been overhauled to make it much more relevant. There are a load of new building types added and more than 50 achievements for the player to work towards as part of Paradox Connect, Paradox Interactive’s online presence.
Even with everything that Divine Wind adds to Europa Universalis, the game remains incredibly complex and will only appeal to those gamers that have patience and that enjoy a slower pace of gaming. But that is the way it should be. EU3 is the ultimate grand strategy game and the Divine Wind expansion adds yet more content to keep the fans happy. It does what it says on the tin and Europa Universalis III players would do well to pick this expansion up as soon as possible.
Europa Universalis III: Divine Wind, from Paradox Interactive, is available on GamersGate