Paradox Interactive is most famed (as a developer, not publisher) for it's huge historical simulations (well, Stellaris is more like a future historical simulation!). These huge games make the Civilization series look and play like kiddie toys for toddlers... there is just so much detail that goes into creating these games, from the huge economic backdrop, the politics, intrigue and finally the battles... all played out in slow moving glory as you lead a huge empire to domination... or just a little fifth rate hamlet to survival! How every game plays out is an exercise in emergent storytelling and alternative history.
There is a Paradox game for every taste... if you are interested in the Victorian ages, World War 2, a 1000 year span from the medieval ages... or a romp through space in the far flung future. All of which are lumbering monoliths of menus and intricate overlocking mechanics! Of course, this sort of game is truly of PC nerd's wet dream... and it is the epitome of HARDEST of HARDCORE gaming culture. This isn't the adrenaline FPS junkie sugar hit... these games will span the better part of several YEARS in real playtime! Just a little bit every now and then, as you follow your chosen avatars in their simulated universe!
So, Crusader Kings 2 (released in 2012) was a reworking of the original Crusader Kings... an updating of the game engine that made it into the single best dynasty simulator bar none.... well, I'm not really sure that there were any real competitors. It was a huge hit for the gray-haired gamers... and over the intervening 8 years, it has seen the usual Paradox litany of updates and DLC, which has transformed the game into the ULTIMATE murder/intrigue/dynasty/succession/world domination/incest simulator...
... however, it was a huge chore to play. There were nested menus and menus and more nested menus... all with interlocking mechanics, and numbers and numbers and badly explained interactions and outcomes... well, pretty much like any other Paradox game... but this was even worse! The reason being that the Crusader Kings series deals with the interaction of feudal families and personalities rather than the large scale abstract leadership of a country or space empire. Your avatar would die, and your new avatar would be the direct heir... with completely different intentions, world-view and relationships! It was a game that would keep flipping on it's head with every succession crisis!
Crusader Kings 3 keeps much of the underlying game mechanic infrastructure (and let me tell you, after 8 years of support, Crusader Kings 2 is HUGE!)... and adds personality and memorable faces to the avatars which previously consisted mostly of numbers and menus. They have unique faces and bodies, they grow old, they show the scars of their battles and display their traits in the way that they hold themselves. Much more of the interaction is intuitive, and memorable... and the numbers are still there (just hidden behind this facade). It is unbelievable how much a difference this makes to the way that perceive these characters... and there are thousands of them being simulated at any one time!
Unbeliveably, the incredibly clever solution to the nested mess of menus (which still exist in some form....) is a set of nested TOOLTIPS! Hovering over a highlighted word which throw up a tooltip with relevant information... that might be game mechanic explanations, character relationships and interaction possibilities!... and in each pop-up, you can explore EVEN further with nested tooltips! It's hard to explain how useful this is, rather than having your screen cluttered up with multiple menus, but to have this pop-up tooltips instead!
So, I've had a couple of hours with the tutorial and been allowed to roam free as a petty king of some tiny hamlet in Ireland. I've learnt some basics of warfare (battering a vassal into obedience), dynastic succession (arranged a couple of marriages...), court intrigue and spycraft... and a touch of diplomacy. I've not really explored the economic and religious side of things yet... and it is all shaping up to be a huge and immersive experience!
I will have a proper review out in a week or two... or five... or ten... when I've had more time to sink my teeth into the meat of the game. However, I have to say that I was so excited for this launch that I picked it up as a PRE-ORDER! I never do that... rarely.... the fact that it runs on my XPS 15 so that I can take it with me on work trips was the clincher!... oh okay, let's not kid ourselves, I didn't need an excuse!
Still, if you do love games of the huge historical simulator type (Grand Strategy...), then this is going to be right up your alley! Pick it up at Humble Bundle for a discount if you are a subscriber (you get a bunch of games every month for a nice low price!).
DELL XPS15 (9560)
RAM: 16 GB
GPU: Nvidia GTX 1050