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Paradox Interactive

Deals photo
Deals

Next week's Cities: Skylines pre-order deals up to 27% off


The citybuilder you're looking for?
Mar 06
// Dealzon
Next week's release of Cities: Skylines has a pre-order discount right now making it cheaper than 2013's SimCity at MSRP. The new city-builder game from Colossal Order starts at $29.99 and can be pre-order for ...

Saving the newly erected Ass from poop water in Cities: Skylines

Feb 23 // Steven Hansen
I started my four square kilometer city next to a river that flowed into the ocean. A smart city planner would’ve taken this advantageous location location location and immediately gotten sewage treatment plants funneling shit (literally!) downstream and out into the ocean where it's fine and not a problem at all. A smart city designer would've taken a screenshot of their work rather than snap a camera phone picture. However, the city starts on the Roads panel. Draw some roads from the highway that serve as the foundation for your city. It's easy, too, to paint on lines or curves. It's a bit too easy, in fact, to start painting beautiful, phallic roadways and eat into your starting budget. I made too large a dick to handle -- fiscally, anyways. I painted the automatic areas on either side of the street with zoning designation (residential, commercial, industrial) and suddenly I had houses erecting and entitled citizens demanding things like power and water. [embed]287913:57461:0[/embed] Skylines is actually quite good at leading you. Little icon demands pop up over homes showing what you're missing (power, water) and you go over to those tabs and start building. Erect power lines, funnel water to homes. As you hit population milestones, more options open up. Schools, fire departments, police departments, hospitals. I was a bit stuck, though, before all that as I had a city -- I named it Ass, by the way -- in turmoil. Shit-covered turmoil, limping along one stretch of pipe at a time, as much as the budget could handle, inching my way towards the coast so I could empty houses of their fecal waste. Buildings were abandoned, people tweeted obnoxiously with the built-in, faux-Twitter app that citizens occasionally use to talk about their Ass. Once I got the shit out of the homes, though, I really turned things around and Ass began growing exponentially, to the point where I was working on beautification projects (parks) as much as adding a second fire department to cover the eastern half of Ass. With built-in Steam Workshop support, too, your own potential Asses aren't limited to the 3D models provided. An hour in, crisis averted, I was still in a relatively podunk state. I hadn't come close to filling my starting four square kilometer tile, and you can patch together up to nine of them. And despite the scope, you can zero in on the most minute details of the simulation, as far as naming an individual city inhabitant and following them until they die. If you are looking big picture, though, there's lots to do beyond rote construction. You can map out and name districts, add city policies (want a smoking-free haven?), set taxes. Maybe build yourself a nice gentrified city, or develop a suburb escape as urban areas filled with crime. My simulated town of Ass never reached significant complexity, but Cities: Skylines' usability, given everything there is to do, impresses and should prove enough scaffold learning to facilitate highly functioning, complex cities from even the stupidest of us. Like the ones who name their city Ass and draw it like a dick.
Cities: Skylines preview photo
Scratching that Sim City itch
Paradox is sticking with, "let’s talk about our product on its own merits" tact with its upcoming city-builder from developer Colossal Order, but I am under no such nice-marketing guide (nor do I know tact, as this post will confirm). Cities: Skylines is looking to be what busted ol' SimCity should’ve been.

This trailer is funny photo
This trailer is funny

Vlad the closeted dracula talks Magicka 2 co-op friends in therapy


Paradox makes the best trailers
Jan 27
// Steven Hansen
Magicka 2 continues to outperform most games when it comes to trailers. And believe me, I know something about funny videogame video content. It's also quite fun. I had a chance to play Magicka 2 on PS4 l...
3, 2, 1...let's jam! photo
3, 2, 1...let's jam!

Get tready to learn about Hearts of Iron IV's tanks


3, 2, 1...let's jam!
Nov 20
// Steven Hansen
I like it when a company modifies their logo to fit with the theme of whatever it's attached to. It's a stupid thing to like and here it's just an old timey World War II filter, but I like it nonetheless (see: SEGA matching ...
Warlock 2 photo
Warlock 2

Why'd it have to be snakes: Warlock 2 gets Nagas DLC


Wrath of the Nagas
Oct 08
// Steven Hansen
Warlock 2: The Exiled is getting its first expansion later this year, Wrath of the Nagas. With it comes a new game mode, "A clear threat," in which you have to trounce the encroaching water snakes on their amphibious buildings.  Along with the Naga race comes new playable Great Mages, including Naga general Rhin-gaa-rook whose scaly mug was the thumbnail image for this post. 
Obsidian photo
Obsidian

Pillars of Eternity delayed for polish and feedback


Another game now slated for 2015
Oct 02
// Jordan Devore
Obsidian Entertainment's next big role-playing game, Pillars of Eternity, won't make it in time for a late 2014 release as previously planned. It's now set for an early 2015 launch, with the extended schedule going toward inc...
Magicka 2 trailer photo
Magicka 2 trailer

Free Magicka 2 if you can do a better karaoke video than a dracula


PC, PS4, cute dog
Sep 12
// Steven Hansen
Magicka 2 is upping the intentional weirdness in its trailers with Vlad the dracula singing karaoke, 90's internet aesthetics, and close ups of a cute dog. Not a bad look. There's also this website, which looks like a Geocities page and encourages you to download the track and lyrics and film your own karaoke music video for a chance to win a copy of Magicka 2 when it releases. 
Ancient Space photo
Ancient Space

Ancient Space is a new space RTS from Paradox Interactive


Dwight Schultz is in it! Murdock from the A-team!!
Aug 21
// Alasdair Duncan
If you're anxiously waiting for that Homeworld HD remake to arrive, we can console ourselves with another nice-looking space-based RTS game in Ancient Space which will dock with us later in the autumn for PC and Mac. Develop...
Hollowpoint photo
Hollowpoint

Hollowpoint will feature four-player co-op, out in 2015


'Never a routine mission'
Aug 12
// Chris Carter
Publisher Paradox Interactive has entered a partnership with Sony, and one of the games that will hit the PS4 from that deal is Hollowpoint. It's described as an action game where you lead a mercenary outfit, and it will feature four-player co-op. It's out in 2015 on both PC and PS4.
Hearts of Iron IV trailer photo
Hearts of Iron IV trailer

Hearts of Iron IV wants you to rewrite World War II


Or try to make it happen exactly as it did!
Aug 11
// Steven Hansen
Why do you have to be at gamescom to make a gamescom trailer? This (a very little bit of) gameplay trailer for Hearts of Iron IV asks that. I think we should all shoot our own gamescom trailers, too. Upload 'em and put them in the comments.  If you want beta details, they're here. Otherwise, see an early Hearts of Iron IV preview from the beginning of the year.
Paradox Interactive photo
Paradox Interactive

Paradox Interactive will have Magicka 2, Hearts of Iron IV available at Gamescom 2014


Victoria will always have my Heart of Iron
Jul 09
// Brittany Vincent
Paradox Interactive will have quite the lineup at Gamescom 2014. Hearts of Iron IV and the new RPG IP Runemaster, along with several "secret projects," will be among the in-house developed titles shown this year. Joinin...
Magicka 2 photo
Magicka 2

Magicka 2 revealed at Sony press conference


'Learn to Spell Again'
Jun 09
// Brett Makedonski
Since the Magicka wizards didn't know what to do with themselves once their unemployment extended into the thousands of days, they decided they'd just get back to doing what they knew best. Magicka 2 was announced ...
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Sabotage economies in the next Europa Universalis IV expansion


Wealth of Nations out May 29
May 22
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations will be out on May 29. This is the second expansion for the strategy title, and the main focus is all trade. There's going to be new trade and diplomacy features, and plenty of things...
Magicka Early Access photo
Play the game before the rest of the world
[Update: Codes all gone! Hope you got yours!] Our friends at Paradox Interactive have hooked us up with a bunch of Early Access Steam keys for their upcoming MOBA Magicka: Wizard Wars, and we're handing them out to the Dtoid ...

Paradox photo
Paradox

This crash-course video explores the origin of Paradox and beyond


Expect to see more historical strategy games
Apr 30
// Jordan Devore
I don't have it in me to become invested enough in grand strategy titles to enjoy playing them, but I always had a soft spot for Fraser Brown's Paradox reviews. This is a genre made possible by a passionate player base and t...

Paradox is publishing Obsidian's new game, Pillars of Eternity

Mar 18 // Steven Hansen
Obsidian also released a comprehensive FAQ on its forum for its Kickstarter backers. "Simply put, Paradox is assuming responsibility for the marketing and distribution of Pillars of Eternity. What this means is that Obsidian can now devote all of their time and resources to the development of Pillars of Eternity and make the game the best it can be." "We like when developers try to go crazy with things," Wester said during the announcement. "When I played South Park: The Stick of Truth, I laughed at a game for the first time in 20 years, probably since Monkey Island." The partnership makes a lot of sense and could yield great things with future Obsidian projects.
New Obsidian game photo
Pillar? I hardly even know her!
Paradox Interactive, makers of grand strategy games (Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings) and Magicka, are teaming up with Obsidian (South Park: The Stick of Truth, Fallout: New Vegas) for their new RPG, Pillars of Eternity. O...

How Paradox Interactive found success in a niche market

Feb 05 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
"Overall it was a good year," Fredrik Wester, CEO of Paradox Interactive told me as we sat by the pool in a Miami hotel. Revenue was up by 35 percent in 2013, with profits over 200 percent. Sure, it's not Activision money, but for a company of Paradox's size that's pretty good. "On the other hand," Fredrik went on, "it was very uneven when it comes to how products performed. Q1 was a disappointment overall, but Q4 was just fantastic." Part of the reason 2013 ended so well was due to the release of Europa Universalis IV. It was their best-selling, and best-scoring title on Metacritic last year, as were its expansions. EU IV has sold over 300,000 units since its August launch, and Fredrik estimates it'll move another 300,000 to 400,000 by the end of this year. What was really startling to learn from Fredrik was that the average playtime in Europa Universalis IV is 190 hours. What put Paradox on the map so to speak are hardcore grand strategy titles, which are primarily real-time strategy games that take place on literally a world map. From the outside it's easy to look in disbelief that people are so into these games. "Our games are not for everyone," noted Fredrik during a press conference earlier in the week. "And that's a statement I'm happy to make. We're not after the 100 million audience, we're after the people who want to play our games. Who want to get deeply involved in our games, and engage for hours and hours." Paradox is doing great these days, but their start was quite rocky to say the least. Fredrik was in business with publisher Strategy First to put out games, but when that company went bankrupt, and subsequently owed Paradox $300,000, it forcibly pushed Fredrik's hands into the self-publishing business. This was long before the indie revolution, so it wasn't quite as simple as it is nowadays. "We wanted to publish our own games in America. Everyone told us this was impossible to do, so we just had to try it." They signed a deal with Atari, and their first game out in the States was Crusader Kings. It was six months late, and it had come out one week after Rome: Total War. "It was a big disaster in many ways."  At around the same time as this Atari deal Paradox had set up an eCommerce website where they sold over 4,000 units of Crusader Kings. "We took two hours after office hours everyday to go pack these games and ship it to everyone. When I look back at these days, this is where we come from as a company. It's very important to remember that because I was the one actually packing those boxes." It was a year later in 2005 with Hearts of Iron II that Paradox Interactive finally had their first major hit. It sold 80,000 units in America, and Fredrik proudly boasted that figure against The Matrix Online, which would end up selling around 25,000 units in America. "I was going to present this at an Atari sales meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, and just before me on stage was the guys behind The Matrix Online. So they lined up their marketing budget and said 'We have $5 million in marketing budget. We're going to spend $2 million on TV, $2 million on print, and $1 million online.'  I had $75,000 in my marketing budget. "So what I did before I went up on stage was to delete all the numbers and just speak in general terms about how we did marketing and our view of the game. It just shows that marketing budget is not everything. It's very important to care about your products and make sure you deliver a good product." Today, the company's mission statement is design videogames to fit the "Gamer Lifestyle." "I want people to feel that the passion that comes from the company to also reach out to the gamers. If we are not passionate about our products how are the gamers supposed to be passionate about [them]? "We make games for people who identify themselves as gamers. Gaming is an important part of their life ... Some people dedicate their life to watching sports, or skydiving, or collecting stamps -- people playing Paradox games dedicate their lives partly to playing Paradox games." Fred himself plays all the games they publish, with one example being that he's clocked in over 150 hour of War of the Roses. "Gordon [senior producer on the game] still kicks my ass. So I'm not a very good gamer, but I love it and I play a lot. The loyalty that Paradox sees with their fanbase makes a lot of sense when Fred talks about what they put into their games. Offering titles that have a lot of value, such as the level of replayability given, along with changing the experience over time with free and paid downloadable content, goes a long way with the player base. "With our DLC policy, when we create something, for example, Conquest of Paradise which gives you the opportunity of a randomized new world, we give you the update for free. So they get all the fixes, all the extra things within the game, but if they want to unlock the features [such as a new playable faction], you pay for it. "As the game evolves, Crusader Kings II has been out for almost two years, we've developed it so much that it's almost a totally different experience playing it now compared to playing it two years ago. We do that to a game and people will come play it again. We have in the last 30 days combined for Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis IV, people spent six million hours playing those two games. That's a lot of hours, [especially] for being niche games." From creating worthwhile DLC, to not monetizing on people's frustrations with their free-to-play initiatives, Paradox has a pretty good mindset when it comes to developing their games. They've especially been good about supporting the modding community, and this year they plan to take things a step further by employing one person dedicated to overseeing what the community is putting out with mods. "We've been discussing how can we support the modding community in a better way. The first thing we need to do is just get someone who can dedicate their time and effort to help people out. Asking like what kind of tools do you want, how can we help promote it -- coordinate all the efforts that's done in the modding community. "We have so many great mods for our games. When Europa Universalis IV was released, after 24 hours we had over 30 mods already in the works that was registered in Steam Workshop. "If we see a promising mod team now, we would rather fund them fully from start to finish and coach them through the project and make sure the project gets really good. So what else is on Paradox's plate for this year? At their annual convention that took place in Miami this year, the company announced their first ever procedurally generated role-playing game, Runemaster, Hearts of Iron IV was revealed, plus we got to see Magicka: Wizard War's new mode, the Rajas of India expansion for Crusader Kings II, got hands-on with Warlock II: The Exiled, and experienced the latest with War of the Vikings. Additionally Paradox has a couple of new titles they've signed with two "high-profile developers," which we'll be learning more about in the coming months. That, and they announced a new studio called Paradox Arctic, home to veterans from DICE and Starbreeze Studios. So they have a good slate of games coming out this year, but what else is on the horizon? Paradox will be embracing the mobile platform more, and confirmed that they are working on games from their existing and new brands for the new console generation. Paradox will maintain a strong focus on the PC as they have no intentions of leaving it behind. Plus they'll be keeping a close eye on how the Steam Box does. That said, the company has opened up to developing on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for the same reason they've been wild proponents of the PC market. "We want to do our games on open platforms," Fredrik told us. "Which means if we want to patch a game, we can patch it. We decide when we patch it, and how we patch it. We don't need to be charged money to update the game as a service to our gamers. That's very important to us. We can't have a platform holder who tells us what to do, and what not to do. We need full freedom on how we connect our gamers on what we deliver. "There's going to be a lot of interesting changes. The dominant console makers who used to define the industry are no longer doing that anymore. They kind of figured that out themselves. They're now more open to content which puts them in a better position than before. They're starting to source content instead of block content, which they did before. They actually had a gated community where like 'Okay, you want to publish for console? You have to do these 20 steps first.' Basically only big companies could do it. "What we're seeing is so many different screens that people are gaming on. I don't really care what machine we're publishing on as long as we reach our hardcore audience. A lot of people see us as a PC company and the reason for that is that it's been the simplest and most open platform to actually publish for. We might be a Linux publisher in two years depending on how the Steam Box does. I really hope the Steam Box will be a success." This new console generation and the major changes and shakeups happening in the mobile and PC space make it overall hard to predict what lies in the future for the gaming market. Whatever may come, Fredrik believes that keeping the mentality of the indie-minded company will see them ride the waves with whatever changes may arise. "There's so many interesting opportunities in the industry. The way I see Paradox is that we still have the mentality of a start-up company. We're 120 people, another 150 people on contract making games externally, and when we meet for our management meetings, there's a vibe in there like we can do anything. "I feel it's crazy in a way because we never slowed down, sat back, and were happy with what we're doing ... But we'll see. You still have to be humble about where the industry is going. Better companies than Paradox have fallen. My hope is that we're going to grow to be three times the size that we are today in five years, but still keep the mentality of the small company that was shipping the Crusader King boxes in 2004, because on the inside, I'm still that guy."
Paradox Interactive photo
Discussing the past, present, and future with CEO Fredrik Wester
Paradox Interactive is best known for their hardcore grand strategy titles on the PC market. Makers of such hits as Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Magicka, and many more games, the Sweden-based company celebrated 10 year...

Paradox on how to do free-to-play the right way

Feb 05 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Magicka: Wizard Wars is available right now through Steam Early Access, and you can gain access through three different founder packs. There's no monetization implemented yet as they want to work out all the bugs and errors before charging people anything. Eventually the game will open up completely with free access, and their free-to-play focus will follow what Riot Games and Valve have accomplished with their titles. "We do not want to monetize on people's frustration, when people are angry because they lost their lives. We want people to pay for things when they're really excited to play more of the game. "What we see as a good way as monetizing is the way Dota 2 or League of Legends does it. It doesn't change the game, it's not going to be a game winner for you. It's going to change the appearance of your character, [for example]. It's still [about] the inherent skill that you have. Free-to-play has been a big trend in the gaming industry, and for Paradox they'll be going that route only "when it makes sense," Fredrik told me. "I think "free-to-play" is more of a marketing initiative than it's actually a sales or business model initiative. We might go free-to-play with more games if it makes sense. "It's most of all respect the gamers. We don't want to monetize when people are frustrated. That's the nightmare for me, that it's going to be like the old arcade halls that you're so frustrated, you died for the fifth time in Gauntlet and then you have to buy a new life to get back in the game. That's not how we work. But if someone wants a new cool helmet, it doesn't do anything for you, you just look like this totally cool guy, then I like it. I buy a lot of skins in League of Legends for example. I've spent probably $150 so far. It's a good model, I feel good about spending money." Check back later today for an interview with Fredrik Wester covering the history of Paradox Interactive and their future plans as a company.
How to do F2P photo
'We do not want to monetize on people's frustration'
Magicka: Wizard Wars is Paradox Interactive's take on the MOBA genre. While most companies have had trouble getting a foothold in the market thanks to how dominating League of Legends and Dota 2 are, Wizard Wars looks to have...

Charging wildly into War of the Vikings

Jan 30 // Steven Hansen
War of the Vikings (PC [previewed])Developer: FatsharkPublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: March, 2014 MSRP: $19.99 War of the Vikings let's you play as the Vikings (the proper choice) or the filthy Saxons (the bad choice). They are mostly the same outside of aesthetic (and Saxons being dumb jerks) and feature three classes made distinct by their primary weapon (sword, axe, bow). Now, your standard warrior can pick up a bow in battle, but he wouldn't be very effective with it. At the same time, an archer that picks up a shield has just made itself a much more formidable target. This isn't quite arcade/arena-style gut 'em up, either. This is a skill-based game, which extends down to the controls that have a bit of a learning curve. Either mouse button are used for either parrying or striking. Holding whichever you're trying to do and mousing left, right, or down will yield a variety of blocks or blows. Just hammering away at an enemy with the same move isn't going to do much, as your sword must meet meat -- not metal or shield -- to do any real damage. If you're feeling intimidated (perhaps it's the beard?), this recent update also has a training mode to help acclimate you to the combat system. In my first few LAN matches I tried valiantly (yes, let's go with valiantly) to show off the skills I'd rushed through learning in the training mode. My strikes were awkward, more probing than expert, as if I were fumbling around in the dark. I struggled to line up the charged special strikes, while my basic blows glanced off shields. I would tend to employ my secondary weapon, a throwing axe, in the hopes of getting some damage done before I would clash with other players. Eventually, I settled into a fitting role as an archer, which carries a much more familiar shooter interface. There, I would reign, arcing 80-yard bow shots like I was Kobe, finishing off downed opponents before they could be revived, and occasionally leading the team in kills. I will need more time to hone my axe and sword skills, but nailing a Saxon in the knee as he charges towards you, bringing him to the ground, was mighty satisfying. Oh, and small-stage, no-respawn team deathmatch is the best.  The easiest way to tell friend and foe apart was the different-colored names, but once we all got into the customization page, things got a bit easier. I outfitted my viking with a flowing green cloak (which keeps your head from rolling away upon decapitation) and a shield modeled after the Italian flag. Oh, and a beard. I acquiesced to beard hype just this once. It felt right. Women warriors are also on their way, though they only exist as unplayable assets for the moment. The utilitarian Viking culture allowed women to solider and they will look similarly dressed as their male counterparts. On the Saxon side, the women are mildly more ornate, presumed to have come from monied backgrounds that would afford them the opportunity to go out a'killing. War of the Vikings is technically pick up and play. You can buy it and play as an archer or swing limply about the battlefield and occasionally land some good hits. You can, at the least, serve as a warm body to help capture nodes in the more strategic levels. But there's enough depth to keep you playing and to keep one-on-one battles an exciting, evenly-matched, back-and-forth affair. It always sort of bothered me in action games when you'd do damage by basically phasing a weapon through an enemy, rather than making solid contact and it having a reasonable effect. It's why Bushido Blade was so cool. Every time I loosed an arrow and it ineptly plunked on a shield, I had to remember I was trying to shoot (and kill) my opponent, not just a character model. Whether you want to dive into the tail end of early access of wait until the full release, War of the Vikings is damn good, different multiplayer fun.
War of the Vikings photo
...Will get you killed. If you suck. Like me.
War of the Vikings, the close-quarters Vikings-versus-Saxons bloodbath, is in Early Access on Steam. Yesterday, it saw its biggest patch leading up to its early March release window. With it comes the content I got to test ou...

Souped up hexagons: Ready to lose hours to Warlock II

Jan 30 // Steven Hansen
Warlock II: The Exiled (PC)Publisher: Paradox InteractiveDeveloper: Ino-co PlusReleased: April, 2014MSRP: $29.99 Warlock II takes place after the events of the first. In the first, you played on one large map, but the world is shattered and its dozen plus great mages are relegated to shard worlds that would still probably be too much space for The Little Prince but are enough for you to pull yourself up by your boot straps, become a titan of industry, and march back to Ardania to kick some vengeful ass. You can also play the one giant map sandbox mode from the first game in Warlock II, if you fancy, but then you don't get to jet between continuum portals. I began on a relatively safe fringe world with the hub of what I would spend two hours turning into a great city. I took my main unit and some ranged back up and began, turn by turn, exploring my little nook of universe, finding formidable fight in the wolves and bears around me. Like, a turn or two for a kill. I shouldn't have split everyone off so early. Or approached that giant orc thing before getting my sea legs. As I ran through some exploratory turns I turned inward. Great infrastructure is the master log of a great empire. Just look at how the world's greatest powers -- Britain, the United States -- crumbled when too little attention was paid inward. I ordered myself some more troops, which would take a few turns, and started building my property. New to the series, I found myself handling this navigation rather pain free. You are basically managing three resources: food, mana, and gold. Meanwhile, the UI was clear enough to tell me what I could do at any given point or what I needed to do to say, build farm. Fraser's complaint of the ironically arcane and unwieldy spell system has been addressed as well, with new spell groupings and an easy interface to look towards what spells you're researching, as they fall into three main trees (offensive, defensive, terrain altering). You will also align yourself with one of the eight gods and their associated spells, which become powerhouse moves late in the game, but also take you out of favor with the other gods' magic. Definitely build a city on penis island (above) I skated by the portal guardian and finally made it through my first portal, at which point I arrived in a hostile, snowy land with only the unit that was closest to the portal at the time (and everyone else a few turns out). I am not good at forethought. Thankfully, the only enemy in range was on the other side of an impassable mountain and I was able to hide away from its ranged attacks. The world is randomly generated each time you start a new game, adding some variety. The Exiled mode, in which you have to jump between portals (versus the big, sandbox mode) also seems like it will add a bit more challenge, especially to the late game where you're all built Ford tough and ready to steamroll over everything. The fragments of world you leave in search of further conquest remain active and monsters will spawn there so you'll have to look out. A big focus this time around is the multiplayer, which came post-release in the first and was clunky thanks to having to wait for others to take their turns. This time around, turns can overlap a bit -- you're able to do any sort of non-offensive empire management while enemies are taking their turns, which is nice. The multiplayer and singleplayer are basically the same game, except with up to three other real players replacing AI for other great mages. While four player PvP was the originally focus, you can just as easily band together with other players to play against the AI. Or you can do that, but also secretly posture yourself to screw your friends over once they've outstayed their usefulness.  Cleaned up in terms of usability and functionality, Warlock II's colorful, hexagonal world should prove a great bit of fun and, perhaps, a nice portal into the blistering cartographic world of 4X games.
Warlock II preview photo
Warlock! Huh! What is it good for? Read this and I'll tell you!
A couple years back, Destructoid's handsomely verbose Fraser Brown reviewed a strategy game of his ilk that didn't instantly fill me with dread and and remind me of my general inadequacy. Warlock: Master of the Arcane was os...

Side with Thor or Loki in Paradox's new RPG, Runemaster

Jan 28 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Runemaster (PC)Developer: Paradox InteractivePublisher: Paradox InteractiveRelease date: TBA The battle of Ragnarök has begun, and you have to decide whether you'll prevent it alongside Thor, or see the destruction of worlds with Loki. Whatever side you end up choosing will see the rival god as the final boss of the game. Six of the nine Norse worlds will be on offer here, and you'll get to decide what race to play as between humans, trolls, giants, darkelves, lightevles, and dwarves. Whatever race you pick  will decide your starting location, so for instance humans will begin on Midgard (Earth). There's different player classes, and each race gets two of the three options. There's Berserker (melee), Skald (healer), and Runemaster (magic). Furthermore, each race offers male and female playable characters. [embed]269421:52315:0[/embed] Visually the game was looking pretty great, even at the pre-alpha state that Paradox showed us in. Unfortunately we didn't get to see the battle system, but they did tell us enough to paint a picture in our minds at least. Battles transpire JRPG style in that you'll warp into a battlefield when you encounter enemies. The turn-based combat is also based on the hex grid system, and elements on the battlefield can affect fights in different ways. You start off as a nobody in the beginning of the game, but through your efforts you'll become stronger and amass an army that you take into fights. You'll be upgrading your main character, plus your armies can level up and be customized in a way that was likened to XCOM's character upgrade system. Four worlds are unlocked at the beginning, and while there's a certain path you should take, you're free to choose the order. That said, some worlds may be too advanced for a freshly-created character to take on. Each new game will also give you procedurally-generated worlds, and coupled with the emergent storytelling, a regular playthrough can take you upwards of 100 hours. Paradox told me they'll have good mod support here too, and they're "hoping for cool mods" once Runemaster gets in the hands of fans. The game is all about replayability, which is slightly insane given how long an average playthrough can take. Runemaster is offering quite the amount of content for players. I liked what I saw in my early look at the game, but I'm going to need to see the combat in action before fully getting hyped up. Still, there's a lot of potential here.
Runemaster photo
Will you bring about Ragnarök, or prevent it?
Paradox is looking to make a game so ambitious you'd think they're trying to please Odin himself. Runemaster is an upcoming title from the house that made Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, and many more hit strategy games f...

Crusader Kings II expansion Rajas of India opens the map

Jan 28 // Steven Hansen
Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods (Mac, Linux, PC [previewed])Developer: Paradox Development StudioPublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: March, 2014 MSRP: $14.99/€14.99/£9.99 If you're reading this because I said "war elephants" and you've not played Crusader Kings II, know that it's a grand strategy title wherein you assume control of nation and subsequently guide them through history (867-1337 if you've the Old Gods expansion, 1066-1337 otherwise).  The map expansion is the hugest change in Rajas, naturally. Aside from allowing players to play as one of these newly playable nations, opening the map puts more pressure on some of the previously far eastern countries of the old map as they now have more potential problems to contend with on all fronts. The large increase is equally dense, adding hundreds of new provinces throughout Central Asia as well as large parts of Siberia. Naturally, there is also a lot more jungle terrain in the area. With these playable territories come the rajas, Indian rulers of one of three new religions -- Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu -- and their vassals. Your national religion will have some affect on the trajectory of your country. Buddhists are able to research faster thanks to a technology bonus, Hindu are a bit more warlike, but also hamstrung by the new caste system, Jainism tends to lead toward a more peaceful, stable population. Plenty of historical license is rubbed into the systems, of course. Should you find it a prudent path, rulers may be able to change a national religion once in their lifetime, at a cost of high piety and, perhaps, resultant discord amongst vassals. It may be prudent, though, to start with inward stability before altering a nation's course toward outward aggression for greater overall strength and efforts in repelling incoming imperialist probes. With new religion, terrain, and war elephants comes other, more character and narrative additions that color the CKII experience compared to other grand strategy. There are reincarnation tales, religious festivals, a new set of facial profiles and attire, and other events specific to the region. Crusader Kings II is also bringing over some technical features from the recently released Europa Universalis IV, including Steam multiplayer matchmaking and Steam Workshop support, and borderless windowed mode. The Steam Workshop support is neat; Paradox seems to be doing a lot to encourage the modding community, while supporting matchmaking makes sense as people discover the joy of playing multiplayer grand strategy.
CKII expansion photo
Extend east, including the entire Indian continent
Crusader Kings II is going strong since its release two years ago. Last year saw the release of a Linux version, The Old Gods expansion (which lets you start playing 200 years earlier in history), and The Sons of Abraham expa...

Going through World War II with Hearts of Iron IV

Jan 24 // Steven Hansen
[embed]269487:52340:0[/embed] While the bulk of World War II dealings are centralized in Europe, Hearts of Iron allows you take control of any country from the period, from Venezuela to Germany. You can alter the course of history or try to repeat history with a major power, or just try to sustain yourself -- and maybe even have some greater effect -- with a smaller power. The first thing that caught my eye in Hearts of Iron IV was the terribly pretty map. I'm no cartographile, but seeing eye-popping HD maps that put those of my childhood classrooms to shame is kind of neat. Plus, an important part of the game is its day and night cycle; for example, you don't want to be deploying your stealth bombers in the day time where they can be spotted like dalmatians. This is represented as a cool, large amplitude oscillation on the map (because timezones mean it is day or night in various parts of the world simultaneously). The seasons also play an important part in deciding strategy, and they're represented on the map at more zoomed in levels. You'll be able to easily see that those cumbersome mountains that would make your invasion a challenge are now covered in nearly impassable snowfall. And what sort of idiot would attack Russia in the winter? That's up there with getting involved in a land war in Asia. The neatest addition to Hearts of Iron IV has to be the battle plan system. Zoomed all the way into your country, you'll find it broken down in provinces, upon which you can place a unit (strategically, you'll want infantry in forests, tanks in flat lands, and so on). You can control your units in a simple fell swoop with the battle plan feature that lets you draw arrows to orient your units and then hit execute to have them follow the plan. Did you ever watch the history channel before it got consumed by the reality TV bug? Remember all the maps with wavy arrows indicating movement? It's that, basically. You draw out your strategy and set everything in motion at once, rather than stabbing at individual units, though you could do that if you want. I didn't go hands-on with it or see too much, but early in development it looked good and seemed conceptually sound. A few arrows saw a whole smattering of troops head east and establish a front. There's even a way to sort of paint a country's border for simple front establishing, and you can advance that whole front at once when the time is right. It's a cool touch that's organic and could simplify and hasten the process of play without sacrificing anything. Also, there is 32-player multiplayer, in addition to the single-player. You can have everyone play as their own country, or even co-op play a country. Other than that, Hearts of Iron IV will feel like a familiar grand strategy game when it comes to PC, Mac and Linux early 2015. There are Doctrines that act as overall directions for you country. Two are based on German and American styles, respectively, while the other two are based on Russian/Chinese and Japanese/British styles. And, of course, there are bundles of other decisions to be made within those doctrines, paths to branch out on, and more nitty gritty details to manage. Producing early tech tanks becomes easier as the years go on thanks to an efficiency bonus from repeat production. Do you go the German route and produce the most technologically good tanks, losing that bonus by changing the means of production, or do you do things the American way and mass produce a crappy tank, winning by sheer volume? Rotting, burnt corpse volume.
Hearts of Iron IV preview photo
Hearts of darkness
Following up on the continuing recent success of Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV, Paradox is revisiting another beloved grand strategy series, Hearts of Iron, with the recently announced Hearts of Iron IV. The Hea...

Casting magic spells in Magicka: Wizard War's new mode

Jan 24 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Magicka: Wizard Wars (PC)Developer: Paradox North Publisher: Paradox Interactive Release date: October 15, 2013MSRP:  $12.99 (Starter Wizard Pack) Duel Mode will see four players enter a compact arena. Two of the players will be pitted against one another while the other two get to watch from the stands. The two players engaged in the match will need to use a combination of various spells to defeat the other, and the last one standing wins. After a very brief pause, one of the players watching in the stands will be cycled into the arena and this repeats until someone reaches six total kills to win the game.   The entire concept is pretty straight forward, and from an outside appearance it all seems pretty simple. But much like a fighting game, Magicka offers a ton of depth to its combat system. Players have access to eight different spells, ranging from fire, lightning, healing, earth, shields, and more. Each spell can be used in an offensive or defensive manner, but where the depth really comes in is combining the different spells to create an even greater attack. Press the F key once and you'll unleash a simple fire blast. Press the F key three times and you'll shoot out a giant blaze. Combine the fire and earth spells and you'll shoot out a fireball. You get the idea. Some spells work better together than others, and it'll take some time to truly master the system.  Along with these spells you have a basic melee weapon, plus four powerful super spells that need to charge up over time. Your melee weapons, super spells, plus your cloak can all be altered before a match, too. Some examples of the super spells include summoning Death who will slash an enemies life bar by 80%, to summoning an outhouse that will spit out a couple of little helper minions.  The action and fighting is great, and pretty addicting. What's a little disappointing though is the spectator part of it all. The purpose of this is to help new players see how others use their fighting tactics, but for me personally it was kind of boring to just wait around and watch the two other players fight. You can't do anything from the stands, other than press a button that shoots out confetti every now and again onto the arena. I would have liked to been able to do something while waiting for my turn, from actually practicing different spell combinations, or maybe even betting on who the winner would be with the other person that I was waiting with. The minor annoyance aside, Duel Mode is pretty fun and will be a nice addition to the core MOBA experience of Magicka: Wizard Wars. 
Magicka photo
Duel Mode pits player versus player
Magicka: Wizard Wars has been available through Steam's Early Access program since October and it's been seeing updates at least once a week. Updates ranging from small bug fixes, to big new additions. A lot of these updates...

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World War II is back with Hearts of Iron IV


A hardcore grand strategy title
Jan 23
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Another new announcement from the Paradox Convention this week is Hearts of Iron IV, a new grand strategy World War II war-game. You can play as any country that existed during the World War II time period, from Puerto Rico ...
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Runemaster, a Norse mythology RPG from Paradox


Brand new IP from Paradox with Heroes of Might & Magic inspiration
Jan 23
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Paradox has announced a new game today during their 2014 Paradox Convention and surprise, it's not a grand strategy title! The game is called Runemaster, and it's a role-playing game based on Norse mythology. Three playable ...
Europa Universalis IV photo
Europa Universalis IV

Europa Universalis IV is getting its first expansion in


Conquest of Paradise
Dec 12
// Joshua Derocher
Get ready for some new features in Europa Universalis IV, Paradox's massive grand strategy game, because it's getting an expansion soon. Conquest of Paradise will focus on adding better mechanics for both sides of the conque...
War of the Vikings photo
War of the Vikings

War of the Vikings upgrades from alpha to beta


Steam is having a free play weekend as well
Dec 06
// Chris Carter
War of the Vikings has been in its alpha phase for quite some time, but publisher Paradox has informed us that the game has now been upgraded to a beta. You'll find new maps, modes and other extras accompanying this change, ...
Free to play photo
Free to play

Dungeonland becomes free to play


Try before you buy this co-op action-RPG
Nov 12
// Jordan Devore
Critical Studio and Paradox Interactive have tweaked the action-RPG Dungeonland to support a free-to-play model, opening access to portions of the game. The DM Tower stage is now unlocked for regular play and the DM Mode in w...
Europa Universalis photo
Europa Universalis

Conquer Paradise in new DLC for Europa Universalis IV


Find the new World in this expansion due out in December
Nov 04
// Alasdair Duncan
Despite having a slim grasp of history, Fraser Brown's review of Europa Universalis IV really intrigued me. In it, he says that Paradox has made this latest edition really user-friendly and approachable to "the grubby masses....

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