<< Portico: Europa Universalis III

2/16/2006

Europa Universalis III

I know that the dismal Diplomacy means that I shouldn't get too excited about Europa Universalis III. The fact that they plan to use some of the stuff from the ambitious kluge Victoria should give me even more pause.

Add that they are cutting the number of years by at least thirty - now starting in 1453 instead of 1419 - and all of us who like to have more, more, more should go over to the Paradox forums and rant for a while.

And many will.

Not me though. This is great news. Europa Universalis II is as close as you can get to a perfect strategy game not designed by Sid Meier or one of his disciples. It has a lot going on at any one time, but it only takes a little practice to realize that not everything needs to be done immediately. Fighting, diplomacy, exploration...it's got the works.

So a sequel is always welcome news. EU is Paradox's marquee title, the one that made their name synonymous with deep historical strategy game. I can't resist the urge to buy another one.

The decision to start the game after the fall of Constantinople is a sensible one. Though I love the Grand Campaign of EU2, the weak starting positions of France, the Ottomans and the future Mughal Empire (the Timurids) meant that much of the world we know never took shape. 1453 gives people a familiar starting point without plopping you immediately in the rush for colonies that a 1492 start would (at least from a European perspective).

No release date yet, though serious beta testing begins this summer, and there is nothing but concept art to work from so far.

2 Comments:

Anonymous flashman said...

Its good to hear it sounds like they are not simplifying the core game to appeal to a wider audience but instead are trying to make its complexity more accesible through a better tutorial and easier learning curve.

Great blog BTW.

2/20/2006 02:55:00 AM  
Blogger Troy Goodfellow said...

Thanks for the compliment.

The best thing for EU3's accessibility would be better documentation. Neither of the other EUs had very useful manuals, and EU2 has been patched and updated so much that the game described in the official documentation bears only a passing resemblance to what is in the game. Trade, income, domestic policy, colonization...all of these have been changed and largely in response to demands from the hardcore fans that their favorite game still be challenging after they've played it for 300 hours.

Heart of Iron 2 had an excellent manual. The subject matter was well trod territory, of course, but by putting the documentation in the hands of one of the beta testers it became complete, useful and descriptive.

Still, I think people overestimate how difficult EU2 is to "get". I've taught people the basics in 20 minutes. It's one of those games that looks really intimidating, but isn't very difficult to figure out once you understand the basic principle that actions have predictable consequences. I think the biggest barrier to widespread mass appeal is the subject matter.

Few games have as loyal a worldwide fanbase, but as you can tell from the forums, a lot of these people deeply care about the fate of Wallenstein and the proper representation of the Manchu takeover of China. People like me. Not normal people.

There is only so far you can go with a deep historical simulation that requires hours at your desk. HoI2 is a big seller because everybody knows WW2 - everybody. Who knows the Thirty Years War any more? Or could pick a Mameluke out of a lineup?

2/20/2006 10:38:00 AM  

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