Summary: Jakub has a chance to do a hands-on test with Europa Universalis III. We play the game and give you our impressions of this highly anticipated grand strategy game. Can it live up to the hype?
What the 3D engine does is simplify art and design for the developers, things that we won’t necessarily notice. Some may prefer the look and scalable nature of 3D, others may enjoy the artsy individual details of the 2D maps. What everyone will benefit from, however, are some of the under-the-hood changes.
Take for example the starting periods available in EU3. You can choose any date between 1453 and 1789. That may be May 2nd, 1454, or December 7th, 1776. The map, the events, the kings and rulers will all adjust to their historically appropriate settings. Pick the wrong date as Prussia, and you might find yourself facing the combined might of Saxony, Sweden, France, Austria, and Russia as Frederick II. Yes, indeed, you can live through the fun and frolick known as the Seven Years’ War in which Frederick and Prussia were only saved from total destruction by the ascension of the prussophile Peter III to the Russian throne.
The customizable starting dates are just the tip of the iceberg. The core gameplay of EU3 hasn’t been changed; fans of earlier games in the franchise will feel right at home. However, Paradox has gone to great lengths to spruce things up. Nations are much more customizable now. Whereas before a player simply got to play with a single slider once per decade, adjusting centralization, quality/quantity, or mercantilism/free trade values, now there are more ways to customize. National ideas are a group of option slots that unlock as the game goes on and the player chooses from. As more slots open, the player can fill them with national ideas, which help define the characteristics of your state. They are all beneficial, but in different ways. Historically, Prussia was a state that relied on a relatively small (though proportionately huge compared to its population) army that was thoroughly professional and trained. However, if you were to be interesting in a colonial venture as Prussia rather than the conquest of central Europe, you may choose to select national ideas that favor colonial expansion and a strong navy.
Provincial upgrades are also significantly expanded. Your choices are going to be vast and varied compared to the sparse selection available in EU2. There are structures to reduce unit build times, improve the economy, reduce revolt risk and support religion. Not tied to provincial upgrades or national ideas are councillors and advisers. These are historical or semi-historical personas you can hire to improve your prestige gain, tech spending, and so on.
On top of this, if the player is in the Holy Roman Empire, he can interact with it a great deal more than before. Also, Catholic players can mess with Vatican politics, sometimes to their advantage, but there can be negative consequences if a rival power seizes control of the Mother Church.
In short, Paradox has done the game a huge favor by giving him work to keep him busy between conflicts. No longer is your idle time spent merely cementing national friendships via royal marriages and bribes. Now there is the economy to take care of, national ideas to work towards and decide, and advisers to choose.
The key thing is that all these new features are just add-ons. They don’t change the core EU gameplay much at all. Players worried that they’ll find themselves facing a micromanagement festival like Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun or Hearts of Iron II have nothing to fret about. Europa Universalis III looks to be shaping up as a really solid sequel that retains the heart and charm of its predecessors, and builds on this quality foundation with a variety of new features. Easily one of the most anticipated strategy games of the coming year.
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