hot  /  reviews  /  video  /  blogs  /  forum

paradox interactive

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...

 photo

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 ...
 photo

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....
Magicka: Wizard Wars photo
Magicka: Wizard Wars

Magicka: Wizard Wars on Steam Early Access today


We can start competing to see who hilariously kills himself less often
Oct 15
// Darren Nakamura
We've seen footage of Magicka: Wizard Wars previously, and some have been playing the alpha for the competitive multiplayer take on the 2011 element-combining "cooperative" adventure. Today, the Early Access version is avail...
War of the Vikings photo
War of the Vikings

War of the Vikings unleashes early access on Steam today


Go slice some dudes up
Oct 01
// Chris Carter
If you're itching to get your warcry on in Paradox Interactive's War of the Vikings, its Steam Early Access program starts today. Provided you're willing to plunk down for the game, you can access an early build right now, an...
Paradox photo
Paradox

Paradox Development Studio is fully supporting SteamOS


'A great thing for PC gaming,' says Paradox CEO
Sep 27
// Jordan Devore
I've really come to appreciate Paradox Interactive's willingness to be frank. And its work on games that, while niche and not really my scene, are a welcome addition to the industry at large. The company is no stranger to sup...
The Showdown Effect photo
The Showdown Effect

You should really be playing The Showdown Effect


It's free for the weekend
Sep 20
// Fraser Brown
When I reviewed The Showdown Effect back in March, I absolutely loved it. Arrowhead are just great at making silly, fun titles. But within my review was a nagging doubt, the worry that it wouldn't be able to maintain the nece...

War of the Vikings has a lot of promise

Sep 03 // Chris Carter
War of the Vikings (PC [previewed])Developer: FatsharkPublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: Q1 2014MSRP: TBA As a sorta-kinda follow-up to War of the Roses, War of the Vikings aims to take things into a decidedly more barbaric direction. Developer Fatshark is aiming for a full authentic viking experience, including real-world weapons, armor, and shields. As part of the alpha, I had access to two maps: Monastery and Gauntlet. Both maps were extremely solid arenas, as they offered up a fair bit of cover from errant arrows as well as wide-open spaces to smash some skulls in hand-to-hand combat. Although the full game will allow for insane 64-player battles, I only had access to one smaller game mode called "Pitched Arena," that offered one life per round in a team deathmatch-like situation. Pitched Arena will support up to 32 players in the final build, but the alpha version only hosts a limited amount of players at any given time, which allowed for more intimate confrontations.  I had a chance to play as three classes: scout (ranged), warrior (balanced) and the huscarl (heavy). Like Roses, all three classes have their individual perks as well as their own loadouts, which helps alleviate any concerns of homogenized playstyles. While I had a few fun rounds going at it with the arrow touting scout, I really felt right at home with the warrior, given the fact that he offers up a fairly well-rounded loadout with a sword and shield. The huscarl was also a ton of fun with his two-handed axe, but I found it to be a little too risk-reward for my style of play. The action itself is fast, and you have to be aware of your surroundings at all times if you want to make it out alive. For instance, playing as a warrior, you're going to have to make sure that your shield is up when arrows are flying at your face from a scout. Alternatively, over-reliance on your shield sacrifices your maneuverability, and can result in losing it to a well-timed axe swing from a huscarl. But while things can often happen in the blink of an eye, there's plenty of time for slow and methodical fighting as well, specifically in Pitched Arena, when most players have died out leaving a heads-up 1v1 situation. It's at this point that the combat of War of the Vikings really shines, as you circle your opponent, attempting to get a perfect slice in. Should you miss, it's most likely lights out, and it's really easy to completely forget that unexpected second enemy that snuck up from behind. Customization is already confirmed for the final version, including "a variety of beard options," and the ability to test out custom perks and builds. Although I found my playstyle of choice rather quickly, I'm sure other players will appreciate the option to take the game to a further level of customization. If it's anything like War of the Roses, it's going to be pretty worthwhile. In fact, I'm eager to see the strides that are made after the alpha, and seeing how far Fatshark intends to justify this as a full-on standalone game over an expansion for Roses. It's not going to be for everyone, but I think once Vikings hits it'll carve out a dedicated niche crowd that will play it for months on end (or hold them out until Mount & Blade II). While I'm a bit cautious to see how ironed out the game is past the alpha stage, I'm extremely hopeful of the combat system, and most of my fights were intense enough to keep me intrigued. As a side note, if you own War of the Roses: Kingmaker, you'll be able to gain access to the alpha, and you can keep an eye on Paradox's registration page in the future.
War of the Vikings photo
Very deep tactical action...with vikings
Paradox Interactive is a publishing machine. It's dabbling in just about every genre under the sun, and now, the company is taking on third-person action in the form of War of the Vikings -- a PC title set to arrive sometime in 2014. It's a bit rough around the edges, but as an action fan, I really appreciated the attention to the tactical nuances that made the games' combat so deep.

Paradox Humble bundle photo
Paradox Humble bundle

Get acquainted with Paradox in the latest Humble Bundle


It's worth it just for Crusader Kings II
Aug 30
// Fraser Brown
The latest Humble Weekly Sale is a cracker, putting up a bunch of Paradox Interactive's biggest titles. Pay what you want and you'll get War of the Roses (along with access to the War of the Vikings alpha), Warlock: Mast...

Review: Europa Universalis IV

Aug 26 // Fraser Brown
Europa Universalis IV (PC)Developer: Paradox Development StudioPublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: August 14, 2013MSRP: $39.99 Maps and menus are damn sexy, right? If your response to that was "God, no" then you're looking at the wrong ones. The map and menus of Europa Universalis are windows into the stories of nations, and ones that you won't have to spend hours wrestling with to comprehend. Fluctuating borders, gigantic mountain ranges, continents changing with the seasons -- the world has never looked so alive in a grand strategy title. It's so good looking, in fact, that I spend most of my time playing in the regular terrain mode, not wanting the various trade, political, and religious overlays to spoil the gorgeous vista. I pause the game and switch when I need more information, but I quickly go back to ogling the Alps or admiring the way the leaves turn orange during Autumn. The menus don't have the same visual appeal, but the way that they break down the complex facets of Europa Universalis into easily discernible information makes them just as impressive. At a glance, a high inflation rate might just look like a random percentage, but in reality it's the result of a decade-long war and loans constantly being taken out to pay for a huge mercenary army. Or perhaps it's the result of greed, with the nation creating too many gold mines and mismanaging the economy. Merely hovering over the inflation number reveals the reason the nation is in dire straits.  This convenience extends to the entire interface. There remains a lot to take in, as the game flings a huge array of information at players the moment they take control of a nation, but between the tips tab, robust tutorial, and the way the information is elegantly broken down for easy consumption, it's not nearly as intimidating as its predecessor.  With the interface helping rather than hindering, newcomers and old hats alike can jump in and lead their chosen nation -- out of almost any era-appropriate nation you can think off, from England to the Aztec Empire -- from 15th century to the 19th century without freaking out when their peasants start rioting for no particular reason, or another power declares war out of the blue, simply because such things don't happen. There's always an underlying reason, and it can always be found. Europa Universalis lavishes players with countless missions, offering some handy direction. At any time, there are several missions available, all logical for the nation they are given to and the situation it's in. England might get a mission to conquer territory in France that it lost during the Hundred Years' War, or after years of economic mismanagement, any nation might be offered a mission to lower inflation.  Not merely a guiding hand, missions result in rewards like increased prestige -- which affects the opinions other countries have of you -- or a higher military tradition, buffing the armed forces.  This new addition doesn't change the fact that Europa Universalis has always been about setting your own goals, encouraging players to live out their "what if?" historical fantasies. And with there being no set victory conditions, it's less about winning or losing and more about the journey. My attempt to turn Scotland into a wealthy colonial power completely failed when England declared war in the 1600s and my French allies refused to help me. My burgeoning colonial holdings were gobbled up, and soon the English marched into Scotland and put my cities to the torch. I didn't feel like I'd "lost" the game, however. That story had merely ended violently instead of ending with an unlikely Scottish empire. That didn't make it any less entertaining or worthwhile.  Beneath the historical narrative lies a slew of fine-tuned, interconnected systems. As Venice, my first goal was to get fat and rich from trade. As a Merchant Republic I didn't have to wait for leaders to die before a new one took over, as I could choose a new Doge during frequent elections, so the first chance I got, I installed the bureaucratic candidate. The new Doge generated a lot of administrative points, which in turn I was able to spend on increasing my administrative technology.  The administrative upgrades increased the efficiency of my realm, but more importantly: it unlocked my first national idea, letting me customize my realm. I could have explored the espionage ideas, the variety of military ones, or invested in colonization, but instead I opted for the trade idea.  Spending more administrative points eventually conferred boons like increased trade power and more merchants, letting me collect money from trade nodes in my own territory, or steer trade from foreign nodes back to Venice. The basic principle of trade is that you use your power to direct or dip into revenue, but it becomes a bit more complex when the New World is discovered, as you unlock more nodes and attempt to juggle an increasingly large trade network.  Nice and wealthy, I looked at my pitiful neighbours and decided to dabble in a spot of conquest, and again the monarch points, national ideas, and technology came into play. I switched between military and diplomatic Doges, spending the points generated on quelling rebellions, fielding more generals, demanding more land and money from peace negotiations, gaining more advanced military technology, and working my way down a military-focused national idea pillar. Viewed separately, these systems might seem a tad mind-boggling, but considered as one system where every action ties into another, it's a lot easier to wrap your noggin around. It remains intricate and complex, but entirely logical -- once you spot the threads that connect everything from trade to conquest together, it becomes more about mastering them and learning how to exploit them than figuring out how they work.  Playing with these systems often results in some tough decisions. "Do I spend my military points to stamp out a potential rebellion, or do I upgrade my soldiers so I can face a threat amassing on my border?" The challenge is in identifying the most immediate concerns and then planning for others. Much of my time with Europa Universalis has been spent with the game paused, pouring over menus, investigating my neighbors, and fretting over what my next step will be. It can be intense and exhausting, but the rewards of outsmarting a devious foe or surviving an invasion from a significantly more powerful country make it worthwhile.  Europa Universalis IV's greatest triumph -- beyond being a deep grand strategy title that doesn't obfuscate everything and leave newcomers weeping in the corner -- is how it makes every new game feel like a new game. Some nations, like England, France, and The Ottomans have clearly had more time spent on making them distinct, but even smaller powers like Native American tribes get their own unique units, even though less attention has been paid to their missions and historical events. They all offer new experiences, however. Whether it's because of the part of the world they are situated in, the player-defined goals, or how the AI nations around them are acting -- there's always a surprise ready to assault you. Old friends can turn into enemies because they fear your conquering ways -- nations now hold grudges that can last for lifetimes -- or your entire population could rise up against you because they are sick of frequent wars, national debt, or feel like they are living under a tyrant. Few plans can go off without a hitch, because Europa Universalis is such a reactive game. You're not playing in a vacuum; you're playing with hundreds of nations with diverse populations, and they've all got their own goals and ambitions. Rivalries develop over time, coalitions pop up, with your neighbors teaming up against you, and religions violently collide. Something is always going on, and it's not always a given that you'll be able to control it. Even taking the reins of the same country multiple times can result in a completely different jaunt through history. I've played as Venice twice now, and the first time -- which you can read about here -- ended with Austria utterly spanking me, but on my second attempt, Austria was completely smashed by France and I, the Holy Roman Empire ended up being controlled by Bohemia, and I united Italy. Adding multiplayer into the equation makes thing even more unpredictable, and if you've read any of my articles recounting my LAN experiences with the game, you'll know that I was looking forward to spending a lot of my time with Europa Universalis IV online. Lamentably, the fates have conspired against me. Using Steam instead of the atrocious metaserver from previous Paradox Development Studio games, the multiplayer promised to be a lot more stable and nowhere near as fiddly as past iterations. There's even a handy hot-join option, letting players jump into a game-in-progress without having to faff about. I've not been able to test it at all, however, as I can't even see the games my chums are hosting, nor can I connect via IP. I know that a lot of folk are enjoying the multiplayer with almost no issues, but I'm not one of them. Despite the multiplayer issues I've encountered, Europa Universalis IV has been the most stable and bug-free Paradox title I've ever played. I spotted some Belgian troops going completely crazy, moving back and forth in the same provinces for an entire year, and when I first started playing clicking on colonial provinces would bring up no information, and I had to click on the region next to them, but since the first week I've not seen anything like that again. Even more surprising is that I haven't crashed once.  I'm quite willing to admit that I've become obsessed with Europa Universalis IV. When I'm not talking about it, I'm desperate to bring it up, and when I chat to someone that I know for a fact plays it, I'll happily natter away for hours, regaling them with the history of my nations, demanding that they entertain me with tales of their own. Paradox Development Studio has shown that it understands grand strategy like no other studio. Europa Universalis IV is the defining game in the genre, laying out the whole world in front of players and just letting them have at it. It's a polished, almost terrifyingly vast title that gets its hooks in you the moment you click on that first country, and simply refuses to let go. Now, if you don't mind, I've got some peasants to oppress. 
Europa Universalis review photo
Crushing peasants and building empires
I've just united Italy after over a century of bloody conflicts. From Doge of The Serene Republic of Venice to the first King of Italy -- it's quite the step up. Along the way, I've upset the gargantuan Holy Roman Empire, gon...

Paradox photo
Paradox

Paradox and Fatshark team up again for War of the Vikings


Beards!
Aug 06
// Jordan Devore
Fatshark is applying the War of the Roses framework to a related -- but standalone, it should be pointed out -- combat game called War of the Vikings. Yes, the name pretty much says it all. You in? Skirmishes will take place...

Review: Teleglitch: Die More Edition

Jul 30 // Patrick Hancock
Teleglitch: Die More Edition (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Test3 ProjectsPublisher: Paradox InteractiveRelease Date: July 24, 2013MSRP: $12.99  First of all, the AI has been upgraded. Enemies can still be kited like crazy, in other words forced to chase you, if you run past them all in the earlier levels, but they are now smarter about moving around in the environment. So while it's just as easy to kite them, it's way harder to actually lose them. Many times, when I find myself with little to no ammo and entering a giant room with many monsters, my first instinct is to just run. However, what inevitably ends up happening is that, as I run further and further while kiting more and more monsters, I'll hit a dead end, turn around, and simply be overwhelmed. Additional levels have also been added to the game, but they're not just plopped haphazardly into the game's progression. Instead, the game now allows the player to choose the next level in certain cases. So instead of going from level one to level two, the player can choose to go to level 2a or 2b. These new levels offer new environments not seen in the original game, and are a great addition for those who have played through the game once already. [embed]258507:49770:0[/embed] The most significant, and my personal favorite, addition to the Die More Edition is the "RSG," or Random Starting Gear, option. Normally, you'd always start with a pistol and some ammo in addition to your trusty melee knife. In a world of randomly-generated everything, knowing how each new life would start provided a calming and welcome sense of familiarity. With RSG turned on, your starting item is randomized from eight possibilities, all of which are new to the Die More Edition. The Pink Death, for example, will penetrate any armor and deal massive damage, but only comes with two shots in a clip. Sometimes, you'll just start with dynamite and chocolate. My personal favorite is the shockblade, a melee weapon. It forces me to play in a completely different way, since starting off with no ranged weapon can be very dangerous. It is also incredibly powerful, taking out the basic enemies in one shot. I always tend to play games with a focus on melee, so I feel in my element when using the shockblade. It's important to mention that the RSG is only available to users who purchase the game before July 31, 2013, as it's considered a "pre-order bonus." It's kind of a bummer that the best thing about the Die More Edition won't be available to everyone, so I hope they offer it up as cheap downloadable content down the line. At times, the randomness of the game's drops and areas can make it feel a bit too difficult. Sometimes it seems like you are always destined to die no matter what you do, especially early on when you don't have many items to craft together. I, as well as many others, would have definitely appreciated the addition of an "easy mode," if for nothing other than to explore the game's later levels without the requirement of a stroke of luck and intense, machine-like focus. I don't think it would undermine the game's focus if it were presented as a secondary option, as the more casual players could at least experience the breadth of content the game has to offer. The Die More Edition certainly lives up to its name. As if I didn't die enough in the original Teleglitch, I found myself really struggling to get to the fourth level (of nine) of this new version. It's got other bells and whistles like new dossiers to help expand the lore further as well as more upgrades for weapon crafting, which serve as the icing on the cake for this already-beefy version of the game. Straight up, the Teleglitch: Die More Edition expands upon the greatness of the original game in every way possible.
Teleglitch Die More Ed. photo
Guess how many times I died? More times
Teleglitch, released late last year, is quite a wonderful roguelike. It's also really incredibly difficult. Like, "good luck getting to level five" difficult. So when I heard about an upgraded version titled "Die More Edition," I got pretty frightened. How much harder could it get? Way harder.

Europa Universalis IV photo
Europa Universalis IV

Crusader Kings collides with Europa Universalis


Lead your people from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance
Jul 30
// Fraser Brown
Europa Universalis IV, one of my most anticipated releases of the year, is only a fortnight away. As we enter August, the final pre-order bonus has been revealed by Paradox Interactive, and it's a doozy: a free copy of Crusad...
Paradox photo
Paradox

First-look footage of Magicka: Wizard Wars


We're all going to die ... soon
Jul 18
// Jordan Devore
Paradox North's team-based, player-versus-player game Magicka: Wizard Wars has shown itself off previously, but never in motion like this. The real-time spellcasting of Magicka was already deadly in so-called "cooperative" p...
Europa Universalis IV photo
Europa Universalis IV

Europa Universalis IV: Give Me That Old-Time Religion


Get the gods on your side
Jul 01
// Fraser Brown
Europa Universalis IV is but a mere month away from release, but Paradox isn't finished with filling you in on the game's many nuances. In the latest dev diary, Project Lead Thomas Johansson describes the complex religious m...
Teleglitch photo
Teleglitch

T3P teams with Paradox for Teleglitch: Die More Edition


Free upgrade for current owners
Jun 27
// Jordan Devore
Join me in feeling less awful about missing out on Teleglitch now that developer T3P has partnered with Paradox Interactive for an expanded version of this overhead roguelike shooter. A free upgrade for existing players, Die...
Leviathan Warships Jazz photo
Leviathan Warships Jazz

Leviathan Warships adds 'Jazz Mode' patch


Listen to the smooth voice of Jazz Boatman
Jun 12
// Joshua Derocher
I absolutely love it when games add crazy things that are completely unnecessary and utterly amusing. Paradox have decided to add a "Jazz Mode" to Leviathan: Warships, a game that doesn't actually have anything to do with ja...
EUIV preorder photo
EUIV preorder

Europa Universalis IV arrives August 13


Seize the reins of history
Jun 12
// Fraser Brown
After spending two whole days playing Europa Universalis IV in Stockholm last month, Paradox's flagship grand strategy title has become one of my most anticipated upcoming games. The Swedish studio recently announced a ...

Europa Universalis IV: Rule, Britannia!

May 31 // Fraser Brown
Europa Universalis IV (PC)Developer: Paradox Development StudioPublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: Q3 2013MSRP: $39.99  I had been given control over England, as lead developer Johan Andersson thought it would be hilarious to force a Scot to play as his hated enemies. Thus, I had one goal in mind when the game began: I would unite the British Isles and create Great Britain. But that was a dream that would take a long time to make a reality -- as England needed to conquer much of the Isles and have a high level of administrative power to pull such a thing off -- and I had much more pressing issues pushing their way to the front of my mind. England is in the unfortunate position where it starts at war with its traditional nemesis, France. Historically, England lost the Hundred Years' War and its holdings on the continent, and EUIV makes it quite tricky to win this large conflict. Paradox had given me a beta build of the game before I flew out to Stockholm, so I'd fiddled around with England beforehand, utterly failing to defeat the shifty French. I wasn't playing against the AI this time though; instead I was facing Adam Smith of Rock, Paper, Shotgun -- my one time Venetian co-ruler from the previous multiplayer session. So we conspired and came to an accord. Not only did we end the war almost immediately, it was a white peace, where nobody had to concede anything, and as a sign of good faith we entered into a royal marriage and an alliance.  The ground trembled and hell froze over -- England and France were buddies. It was a good thing too, as no sooner as we had made peace, all of England took up arms against their brothers. The War of the Roses had begun. For the next few years I basically ignored the rest of the world, as England was on fire. Not only was I struggling to deal with agitated nobles, the Welsh were kicking up a fuss as well. This gave me plenty of experience with EUIV's overhauled rebellion system, where rebel leaders are not merely faceless plebs, but real leaders who have demands and desires. The Welsh demanded independence and the nobles wanted to control the throne, so there was no way I was letting that happen, of course. When the war finally ended, I was able to start looking outwards, planning my expansion and dominance of Europe. I wasn't in the best of positions, however, as I had a young, rather weak king. Monarchs play a huge role in EUIV, since their military, economic, and diplomatic statistics directly tie into the generation of Monarch Points -- the various currencies that are used to take action.  Diplomatic missions, declarations of war (and the cessation of said wars), technological upgrades, cultural shifts -- these all require a player to spend Monarch Points. There's rarely a time where there isn't something you could be spending these points on, yet saving them up allows players to unlock new ideas and other, significant, improvements.  Ideas are the tools with which one defines their nation. With them, new buildings, units, and bonuses can be obtained. My first set of ideas were from the Aristocratic Ideas row, increasing the effectiveness of my cavalry and other splendid things. By the end of the two days, I would have unlocked both the Exploration and Trade rows as well, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  With my terrible king, I wasn't exactly generating points by the boat-load. I did have a substantial amount of gold and a vast amount of manpower, though, so I certainly had options. I looked to Ireland to make myself feel better. The island was, at this point, a bunch of weak, separate kingdoms that nobody really gave two shits about, and they would be my first series of conquests. Going to war with nations across the ocean is no small feat, and my vast army of eager conquerors needed an equally vast fleet to carry them across the choppy water of the Irish Sea. As luck would have it, England starts off with a fair few ships, and I'd continued to expand my navy due to a mission I received early on. Missions are a cracking way to find a bit of direction in a game this open-ended. They are logical, taking into account a country's situation, often rewarding, and they can guide players through this complex grand strategy experience. Several missions are available at any one time, and I'd accepted a command to increase the size of my warships. I did so with gusto, and thus was perfectly positioned to launch an invasion into Ireland. A few years later, all of the British Isles were under my command. My hostile take over of the various Irish kingdoms had naturally led to me invading Scotland, as that kingdom had allied itself with Connacht, and even held a bit of Irish territory. I felt bad, I confess, for slaughtering thousands of my countrymen, but they should have known better than to take land I was gunning for. Cheeky buggers.  There was a moment where I was concerned that my greedy invasion of Scotland would be contested, as all of a sudden, Swedes were running around the Highlands. I called over to Paul Dean, playing Sweden, and demanded to know what the hell he thought he was doing. It turned out that he was on his own mission, but thankfully it didn't get in the way of my grand scheme, and before long he'd buggered off back to his fjords.  This long celtic war had drained my coffers considerably, especially after recruiting mercenaries to bolster my dwindling English army. So I set about spending the last of my reserves on buildings that would increase my tax revenue and trade revenue. Trade is significantly more engaging than it's been in previous games in the series, but it can be a bit bewildering at first. Nations start off with two merchants (this number can be increased by choosing the Economic/Trade Ideas trees) and these money-minded fellows can be attached to various trade nodes all around the world. Once there, they can either maintain an office or build a transit hub. Maintaining an office uses your trade power to keep trade in the nod and get lots of lovely gold, while building transit hubs uses the trade power to direct trade to another node. You can only maintain an office in your home trade node, so the idea is to direct trade from other nodes back there. Switching to the trade overlay gives you a clear picture of the direction of trade, and can even come in handy when selecting new places to conquer.  With my financial situation under control, it was time to throw my weight around on the continent. Under the guise of going outside for a quick cigarette, France and England strengthened their unholy union by plotting against little old Burgundy. Within a cloud of smoke, two nations who rightly should have been enemies started carving up the world.  Not long after I made my way back to my seat, a pop up informed every single player that France had declared war on Burgundy. Then, much to everyone's surprise, a second pop-up appeared: "England has declared war on Burgundy". Some might say that it was dishonorable to start a fight with a player who was struggling to deal with a bunch of rebels -- for Burgundy was infested -- but I say that I don't know the meaning of the word. Unfortunately, my limited vocabulary was shared by Burgundy's player, though his blind spot was the word "concede." After I smashed his last army with my stupidly large force, he finally gave in to my demands. I had two more provinces to add to my continental holdings. It took longer than I had anticipated, as human opponents don't have to concede defeat when the cards are stacked against them in the way that the AI would, but I got more land out of it. Soon, I would add Iceland to the list -- just because I could. I'd become chums with the newly independent Sweden after it had thrown off the oppressive shackles of Denmark. Sweden was now sizing up Norway, and as luck would have it, so was I. The islands of Orkney and the Hebrides were controlled by the Norwegians, and I wanted them for my empire. Thus, I agreed to join Paul Dean in his conquest of Norway, promising him that I'd leave everything but those small islands to him.  Of course, I had no intention of keeping my promise. No sooner than I was done with my primary goal, I set my sights on Iceland. You see, I'd gotten it into my head that a trip to North America sounded like a lark, but colonization has some strict rules. You need explorers and conquistadors to map out the coast and land regions -- provided by the Exploration Ideas tree -- and any potential colonies must be within a particular range of a core province. England's quite far from North America, but Iceland is a damn sight closer.  I was far from the first player to start building a colonial empire. Both Portugal and Castile had already started to "civilize" Africa and South America, but the north was ripe for domination. My first attempt at colonization was actually in West Africa, and I had been told in no uncertain terms that I should leave that continent to Castile. I was far from prepared for an armed conflict on an entirely different landmass, so I decided to pull out and focus on America. I had to send troops along with my explorers, and they did a splendid job of slaughtering all the angry natives who took issue with my burgeoning colony. North America also has a fair few native powers that I had to contend with, but at that time they all appeared to be at war with each other, giving me lots of time to build up and prepare. A new monarch and my frugal use of administrative points had led to me upgrading my administrative technology to the point where I could finally unite the kingdoms of Britain and form Great Britain. I proudly flew the Union Flag, my empire's color changed to a deep red, and all was right with the world. My time with EUIV was coming to a close, lamentably, and while I'd achieved my initial goal, I knew I wouldn't have time to form the Thirteen Colonies or exploit Africa. What's a power-mad leader to do? France had a suggestion, and it necessitated another cigarette break. Beneath the imposing facades of the Palace and Royal Armory, we hatched a plan to end the world with a bang. With the threat of repercussions removed by the impending end of the world, we'd become rather ballsy. With Burgundy, whom we were now pals with; Castile, who had been deceptively friendly with everyone (and I still had a grudge with); and The Ottoman Empire, whom, played by Rob Zacny, we ended up courting over lunch, we had quite an impressive force. Calling it a plan would probably be giving us too much credit, really. We were simply going to plunge Europe into a self-destructive war for the hell of it. When you want to create a big European conflict, you might as well start with one of the biggest targets, and in our case, this meant dancing with Prussia, now the leader of the Holy Roman Empire. Not-quite-Germany-yet was played by Jakob, a producer and marketing fellow from Paradox and an all-round nice chap, but that day he would be our victim. I started softening Prussia up by funding rebels -- a tactic Castile's Joe Robinson had used to great effect against me in our previous game. Players can send their diplomats to foreign lands, and can select potential dissidents from a list of those who hold a grudge. Conveniently, their strength and revolt risk is revealed, so choosing which rebels to support is quite easy. Unfortunately, my rebel-funding diplomat was discovered before he could do much, and Jakob was rightly suspicious. We'd have to strike fast.  And that, my friends, is where it all fell apart. The forces of Great Britain, France, and Burgundy marched into the Germanic kingdoms confidently, encountering little resistance from the likes of Saxony or the other small allies of Prussia. I even managed to annex Saxony, adding it to my empire. It was then I looked west and saw what was happening in France. Rebels had sprung up everywhere, and the nation was drowning in civil strife. An army of 30,000 angry men were also marching on Normandy, which was still under my control. To make matters worse, Castile was nowhere to be seen, and the Ottomans were busy dealing with the Mamluks and Uzbeks. Rebellious Germans were springing up everywhere, France and Burgundy were pulling out, and the Prussians were pounding on the gates. I lost Saxony, my armies fled, and I spiraled into debt. This had a knock-on effect back home, and now British peasants were revolting. Prussia chased me all the way back to France, where my remaining, decimated forces fled onto ships and escaped back to our stalwart little island paradise.  We had not succeeded in doing very much other than ruining our economies and pissing off the plebs. When the game did end, I was clawing my way back from failure, and would have retaken Flanders -- which the Prussians stole from me and made independent. But my shot at glory had gone up in flames. The British Empire would rise again, but not that day. The rest of the evening was spent regaling each other with the tales of our victories and failures. Europa Universalis IV inspires discussion, boasting, and lamenting. Over pitchers of mead, I learned of the continual wars in the Orient, with Johan Andersson's mighty Uzbeks terrifying everyone; the riches and amazing trade resources discovered by Castile in South America, which led to Castile being declared the winner of the game; the slow ascent of Sweden from the brow-beaten property of Denmark to an independent kingdom with holdings as far afield as Canada; and a slew of other stories from other players. While Europa Universalis IV still has a couple of months before it launches, it feels more polished than any of Paradox's previous offerings. I don't imagine such a large multiplayer event could have worked with EUIII or even CKII before they were deemed complete. There were a few lost connection hiccups on the second day, but overall what I experienced was an extremely stable build and multiplayer shenanigans no doubt helped by the use of Steam. Grudges are stewing, revenge is being planned, and I have no doubt that I will find myself once again going to war against dastardly human opponents when the game finally arrives, hopefully, in August. It's a strange position to be in, as excited about the multiplayer component of a grand strategy game as I am its single-player facet.
EUIV Preview photo
Building the British Empire in two days
Paradox Development Studios' grand strategy titles are not known for their multiplayer, but the Swedish developer is working hard to change this. Way back in cold January, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with...

BEARD photo
BEARD

Everyone can appreciate this Crusader Kings II trailer


Some things are universally awesome
May 29
// Conrad Zimmerman
I do not play Crusader Kings II and I expect that I would be exceptionally bad at doing so. It is for these two reasons that I would normally have breezed right by this trailer for the new "Old Gods" expansion released ...

Review: Leviathan: Warships

May 23 // Fraser Brown
Leviathan: Warships (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Pieces InteractivePublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: April 30, 2013 MSRP: $9.99 (Mac, PC), $4.99 (Android, iOS)Rig: Intel i5-3570K @3.40 GHz, 8 GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 670, and Windows 7 64-bit  It's a good thing that I don't have the sea legs to command an actual fleet of warships, or the seas would be filled with flotsam and corpses. I'm not coming right out and saying that I'm a bad Leviathan player, but I have been known to sacrifice more than a few ships. I'm fairly certain that somebody in the know said that you should never do the expected in war, and I've taken that to heart. I just hope it wasn't someone who died five minutes later that offered this excellent piece of advice.  My sometimes risky maneuvers tend to spell my death in Leviathan's rather boring single-player campaign, with the unrelenting AI continually assaulting me, leaving no room for mistakes or silliness. It's okay, though, because playing Leviathan on your own is very much the wrong way to play the game, regardless of the existence of a single-player campaign.  Everything from the aforementioned campaign to the plethora of challenges -- pitting your fleet against waves of foes or tasking them with the defense of facilities -- can be played cooperatively, with players commanding their own fleet. This opens these scenarios up, providing opportunities for more complex strategies, and it also makes it a little less likely that the dogged enemy AI will tear you to shreds.   With an incredibly simple control scheme and user interface, Leviathan is extremely easy to grasp, allowing admirals to give more thought to tactics and strategy. It has to be, of course, as it's designed to be played in short bursts by mobile gamers, just as it can be a time sink for those chained to their desktop.  At first, it's a little strange playing it on a PC, as the influence of tablet touch-screen interfaces is clear. Instead of menus and hotkeys, fleets are controlled in a more tactile manner. Clicking on a ship unleashes a radial menu, with icons representing the ship's various guns, shields, and special abilities. Selecting one of these icons reveals firing arcs, allows one to turn on or off "fire-at-will," and activates the cloaks, shields, or even mines.  Dictating the movements of the fleet is done by dragging the movement icon, the route appearing as you pull it away from the ship. The line representing a vessel's journey also reveals if the ship will reach its destination during that turn or not.  All these actions take place during the planning phase of Leviathan. Until these actions are locked in by confirming the end of the turn, plans can be tweaked and altered, and so often in my games they were. Every plan is dependent on one's ability to guess what an enemy is going to do, where they are going to move their ships, and what weapons they are going to use. Frequently, I'd scrap a plan, changing my ships' trajectory, altering where they were aiming, and using new weapons because I'd start to second guess myself.  Confirming the end of the planning phase is a difficult experience, as one is immediately giving up control, leaving everything in the hands of fate. The action phase is a completely hands-off affair, and no matter how confident one is in their plans, it can all go tits up if the enemy does something unexpected, or enemy reinforcements burst out of the fog of war.  All of this becomes even more intense when you add the human element. Leviathan's competitive multiplayer is undoubtedly the most compelling facet of the title, especially when it's two teams rather than just two individuals going head to head. Anticipating the moves of two minds while also making sure you are on top of what your ally is doing adds another level of complexity to the experience.  In these matches, phase lengths and game lengths can be customized, allowing players to select short 30-second planning phases, requiring quick thinking and direct communication between allies. Being able to actually talk to your ally is a must, as planning by text is hardly efficient when planning is limited to such a short space of time. The length can be substantially increased, of course, making for more relaxed games. One of Leviathan's greatest strengths is the extremely different ways the game can be played. Quick five-minute matches are perfect for those who just want to jump in and play when they don't have much time, for instance while they are on the bus, playing on a tablet. Other games might be longer affairs that could last days, with players taking their turn, seeing how the action plays out, and then pausing the game and coming back to it in a few hours or days. Matches are saved to the cloud, making it easy to start them up again to make another move. This way, one could have multiple games going on at the same time. This is how cross-platform multiplayer titles should be between tablets and PCs, as Pieces Interactive understands that different platforms inspire different ways to play games, and Leviathan caters to all kinds of players without making too many sacrifices in terms of depth.  As much as I enjoy a good old naval battle, it's Leviathan's fleet customization that really sucked me in. While there are several premade fleets and lots of ship blueprints, one can ignore these entirely and spend hours constructing their own armadas -- one for every eventuality. Vessels are covered in hard points where all manner of weapons and tools can be equipped. Destructive, powerful laser beams that rip through multiple ships, devastating artillery that can target enemies half way across the map, cloaked mines, shields of varying strength, even a Kraken summoner -- players are spoiled for choice, and that's before they even decide how much armor they want to put on their ship, or how many ships they should have in their fleet.  Selecting an appropriate base vessel is imperative, too, as they all come with different speeds, durability, and a different number of hard points. It might not be such a good idea to attach a lot of close-range weapons to a ship that's so slow that it'll rarely get near foes, while adding a cloak and mines to speedier ships might just be a splendid idea, since they can travel all over the ocean arena, sneaking up in front of enemies, depositing mines, and then buggering off, away from the danger.  The problem with all this ship customization is that there's very little feedback in the ship editor menu. The only way to tell if you've made a terrible mistake or not is to take the fleet into battle. Thankfully, the option to participate in brief matches does encourage risk and experimentation, but it would be nice to be provided with a broader array statistics so one could make an informed decision about their vessels before they dump them in a fight.  Leviathan's maps, of which there are lamentably few, are well designed creations -- small enough so that games don't drag on, and the slow ships don't spend most of their time looking for a fight rather than getting into ones -- with plenty of islands dotted around providing cover, bottlenecks, and larger open spaces perfect for creating killzones. They really aren't varied enough, however, and they do blend together, which is problematic when they are so small in number.  With so many fleet combinations a single map can can offer up plenty of unique experiences, though. Unfortunately, it won't take long before these ocean battle-spaces start to outstay their welcome, but more might be on the way via DLC.  Leviathan is best enjoyed if you already have friends playing. It's a game that offers little to the solo player, despite the single-player campaign. With pals, it's an entirely different, much more entertaining experience. If you do have a tablet, then I recommend picking it up for that rather than PC, purely because of the much lower price. All versions are completely identical, so you won't be missing out unless you desperately want to play it on a larger screen.  
Leviathan review photo
Hot ship
Throughout the many competitive multiplayer matches of Leviathan: Warships I've played, I've shown a great deal of restraint. No matter how many vessels I lost, I refused to utter the words of defeat that so many ha...

Crusader Kings II contest photo
Crusader Kings II contest

Create your own pagan event for Crusader Kings II


Try to make it saucy
May 21
// Fraser Brown
The pagans are almost upon us as Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods gets closer to release. To mark the upcoming launch of this expansion, Paradox Interactive is offering folks the chance to create their own event, which will a...

Viking shenanigans in Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods

May 17 // Fraser Brown
Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods (Mac, PC [previewed])Developer: Paradox Development StudioPublisher: Paradox InteractiveReleased: May 28, 2013  867AD, almost two hundred years before the Battle of Stamford Bridge and the Norse and Norman invasions of England -- initially the earliest starting point in Crusader Kings II -- and the pagans are restless. Petty kings and chiefs squabble ceaselessly; new nations are being created at the point of a spear.  The new start date in The Old Gods reveals a Europe and the Middle East markedly different from how it will look in two centuries time, and in that span many things can happen, so that the historical future where paganism was annihilated in Europe, and huge Christian and Islamic kingdoms dominated the world might not come to pass.  I'm more of a conniving Crusader Kings II player than an outright aggressive one. I try to avoid wars if I can, more at ease plotting, assassinating, and bribing to get what I want. That sort of play-style is the antithesis of how the pagan nations must be handled, however, and so I had to get out the war paint and start beating my shield.  While the lords of the monotheistic kingdoms get all bent out of shape when a leader forces their troops into a prolonged war, the pagans demand a constant show of strength from their kings and lords. To rule pagan lands, one cannot shy away from a bit of bloodshed. This all contributes to a clusterfuck of warring tribal peoples, and I got more worried when my vassal armies weren't raised than when they were knee deep in the blood of their foes.  Pagan aggression is not restricted just to wars, thankfully -- because damn, can they be expensive -- and raiding parties can be sent abroad to alleviate foreign regions of their wealthy burden. Raids are a novel new addition to the game, and are pretty simple to pull off, just requiring a unit to be set to raid (at the click of a button) and then sent to their destination by ship (if they are Vikings) or on foot.  Once the raiders arrive in a province, they must contend with any foes or fortifications before they start wildly looting, but once those things are dealt with it's one big party. Eventually the holdings that generate gold will be drained for the time being, and the blood-drunk and slightly richer raiders can bugger off to their next target.  The Vikings, Europe's most infamous pillagers, get some special advantages when it comes to stripping a land off its wealth, namely in the form of ships. They can go further afield, get more loot, and even travel down rivers into landlocked provinces to cause a ruckus.  Once the fun is over and the raiding party has more gold than it can reasonably carry, they can be sent back home, bringing back both the gold and prestige. Military technology and fortifications will eventually lead to raids becoming more difficult, for instance river forts will start to make it impossible for Viking longships to make their way inland, so it's best to take advantage of pillaging while it's still possible. In the 9th century, many of the nations that make up Europe had yet to be created, and one of the key ambitions of the pagan leaders (and some of the Christian and Islamic ones) is the unification of their land. Playing as King Haraldr Fairhair of Ostlandet, I was immediately able to select the ambition to create the Kingdom of Norway. Now, while Fairhair was a king, he was a petty king, essentially a powerful chief in charge of what amounts to a duchy. Historically, Fairhair became the first king of Norway in 872, so it's not too difficult to make this a reality in the game.  By selecting this ambition I gained an extra-strong casus belli, the subjugation CB. This meant I could declare war on any of the Norse regions without a claim, leading a string of wars going on for many years. This being Crusader Kings II, nothing went quite to plan, and Fairhair died in battle and the area devolved into wars between his sons and uncle, as they all tried to make themselves King of Norway.  England and the various Saxon kingdoms and what would eventually become Hungary, at the time being ravaged by the Magyars, are two other areas that are ripe for unification, and there's a clear push for these peoples to create these kingdoms, just as they did historically. One of the most obvious differences between the pagans and the rest of the world -- come on, it's in the expansion's title -- are their religious beliefs, and just as they did with Sword of Islam, Paradox has made the heathen religions just as deep and full-featured as their monotheistic counterparts.  Complete with unique events and even sacrifices, they are quite the departure from the other religions, but historically they were unable to survive in the face of the Catholic and Celtic Church and monotheistic missionaries. As paganism died out throughout much of the world during this period, The Old Gods presents something of a "what if" scenario. Paradox had to invent away for these old religions to survive, and so they created the pagan reformations. By controlling holy sites, a dynastic leader can start a religious reformation, organizing their pagan faith against the onslaught of the Abrahamic religions, and even allowing them to start holy wars and crusades. While it's ahistorical, without these reformations they'd inevitably succumb to the larger belief systems, so this creates some balance. Landed nobles get all the fun in Crusader Kings II, but what about the little people? The good news is that Eric Everyviking and his chums will get their time in the sun through more refined rebellions and landless adventurers.  Instead of rebels being faceless dissidents, The Old Gods gives them a wee bit more character in the form of a face of the rebellion -- a leader of the rebels who can, should their efforts be successful, claim land and titles. Rather than dealing with x number of troops, players will have to face a mob led by an individual with desires and ambitions.  Other characters lacking titles or claims will also crop up in the form of landless adventurers. In the spirit of near-legendary heroes who traveled to distant lands to carve out a kingdom (it's sort of how the Normans came to be), these adventurers can strike out on their own and try to claim new lands, going from nobodies to men of influence. They might also join player armies before a great invasion. Prepared invasions are a new feature where a lord can proclaim their desire to conquer new lands and wait for a couple of years as independent warriors flock to their banner in search of riches and glory. Such events have been retold -- with no small amount of artistic license -- by poets and bards, where groups of men would gather to feast and boast, their numbers swelling, until they finally went to war, such as in the important Welsh poem Y Gododdin. Such invasions are time sensitive, however, and a lord that doesn't follow through with his invasion plans will face dire consequences. The result is more meaningful wars, no longer simply a matter of raising vassals and marching them to a target. As with the previous premium expansions, The Old Gods also fixes and tweaks the base game, while adding new features for free. Those who don't buy the DLC won't have access to the pagan factions, but they will benefit from the reworked technology tree. It's now significantly less obtuse, and it's much easier to plan advances and unlock new technologies.   Although it's convenient for me to lump all the pagans together for the purposes of this impressions piece, it's not particularly representative of their actual diversity in the game. Even the various Germanic and Scandinavian peoples differ greatly, from the stalwart Finnish tribes to the aggressive Norse, they all play differently and will require a distinct mindset to successfully manage. Further afield you've got the Persians who are still Zoroastrian at this point, and their faith and culture couldn't be more different from their European counterparts. They, appropriately, aren't even considered part of the greater pagan group and share similarities with the Abrahamic faiths that the Achaemenid religion inspired. A reformation isn't necessary, as Zoroastrianism was already an ancient and organized religion, and Zoroastrian rulers can arrange holy marriages and create a High Priest position that functions a bit like the Catholic Pope.  When Paradox said that The Old Gods would be its biggest Crusader Kings II expansion, it really wasn't kidding. It's an altogether different experience from playing the core game, and it's content rich. It also marks the end of what Paradox is calling the first phase of Crusader Kings II DLC. Pretty much all of the factions are now playable, and one can experience the medieval world from a plethora of disparate angles. 
The Old Gods impressions photo
Drinking, pillaging, and fighting
Over the last year and -- almost -- a half, Crusader Kings II has grown considerably. What started of as a vast grand strategy game where players could take the reins of a Christian noble dynasty now contains playable Islamic...

Magicka: Wizard Wars photo
Magicka: Wizard Wars

First screens for Magicka: Wizard Wars revealed


Wizards, ho!
May 15
// Chris Carter
It seems as if we haven't heard from the folks at Paradox North about Magicka: Wizard Wars for ages, but here we are with fresh screenshots, showing off the game in action. Set to combine the humor of the Magicka franchise wi...

  Around the web (login to improve these)




Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -