Europa Universalis IV
|Europa Universalis IV|
|Developer(s)||Paradox Development Studio|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux|
Europa Universalis IV is a grand strategy video game in the Europa Universalis series, developed by Paradox Development Studio and published by Paradox Interactive. The game was released on 13 August 2013. It is a strategy game where players can control a nation from the Late Middle Ages through the Early modern period (1444 to 1821 AD), conducting trade, administration, diplomacy, colonization and warfare.
The game has been formed to begin historically, with real events occurring in real time. The game itself is an interactive map of Earth divided into the provinces that compose nations. Each of these provinces contribute to their country either positively or negatively, as provinces can both provide resources to a nation and serve as a point of unrest and rebellion. The gameplay requires the player to lead a nation by finding a balance of military, diplomacy and economy. The player does so through their choices as sovereign of their nation, and through the spending of resources available to them: Prestige, Stability, Gold (Ducats), Manpower, Legitimacy for Monarchies, Republican Tradition for Republics, Devotion for Theocracies, Horde Unity for Hordes and Monarch Power (Administrative, Diplomatic, Military).
Players can choose to conquer the world by military might, become a colonial superpower, establish trade dominance, etc as hundreds of different nations. These nations range alphabetically from Aachen to Zuni. The game is a sandbox environment, and while there is no strict rule on winning the game, a loss occurs when the player's nation is removed, or annexed, from the map. Diplomacy is a large aspect of the game, as creating alliances, (or vassal states, and tributaries), improving opinions, and preventing defensive coalitions are vital to a player’s survival. Espionage can also be employed against enemy states in order to claim their territory, or incite rebellion in their provinces, along with other dubious ends. Combat can be waged on both land and sea, during which the game attempts to simulate real world factors such as morale, discipline, varying unit types with associated strengths and weaknesses, competency of leaders, terrain and supply lines.
Many major religions are present in the game and can provide distinct bonuses to their practitioners. Players can employ missionaries to convert their provinces or can engage in policies of universal religious freedom. For example, the Catholic faith makes use of the Papacy, which can allow a nation to have control over the Pope or to use their influence for other rewards. Technological advancements are invested in over time, and will require the expense of monarch points.
- Administrative technologies unlocks advancements such as increased productivity, new forms of government, new buildings, and the national idea system.
- Diplomatic technology unlocks advancements such as naval units, improvements in trade, new buildings, and improved colonial expansion.
- Military technology unlocks advancements such as new types of land units, improved unit morale, combat tactics, and new buildings.
Gameplay is influenced by random events that arise every so often for the player. These events can be either helpful or harmful. Some of these random events are driven by an individual country's history, while some can apply to any country and serve generally to enhance the "flavor" of the game. Players can choose to play single player mode versus the AI, or multiplayer over a LAN or the Internet against a mix of human and AI opponents. Single player also has the option of "Ironman" mode, which locks several settings such as difficulty, and removes the control of saving the game from the player. This means that any mistakes are irreversible. It is, however, the only way to receive any of the game's many achievements.
Early design discussions for Europa Universalis 4 began shortly after the December 2010 release of Divine Wind, the final DLC for Europa Universalis 3 with development, based on the Clausewitz Engine, beginning in earnest in about September 2011. It was first announced to the public in August 2012, to coincide with a showing at that year's Gamescom, after having been teased under the codename of "Project Truman".
Throughout the game's development, Paradox Development Studio released weekly "developer diaries" via their online forums, in which they detailed some feature of the game's development. These included information about design philosophy, game mechanics that were being implemented, and features from Europa Universalis 3 that were being removed.
During its development, Europa Universalis 4 also had a greater priority given to stability and quality control than had previous games in the series. There had previously been a perception that Paradox's games were not worth buying until several updates or expansions had fixed stability issues. Studio CEO, Fred Wester described this perception as being like "a slap in the face", motivating them to improve. Another of Paradox's major goals was to retain the depth and complexity of their earlier grand strategy games, while making them easier for a player to interact with.
Prior to release, a preview version of the game was showcased through let's plays and via a multiplayer event for journalists.. A playable demo of the game was released on Steam on 9 August 2013 with the game itself being released on 13 August.
Following its release, development of the game has continued under the same model that Paradox had previously used successfully for Crusader Kings 2, with paid DLCs being released alongside, and helping to fund, additional free patches which add more features to the base game. As of December 2018[update], fifteen expansions have been released for the game alongside many minor DLCs offering additional graphical or musical options.
Expansions and mods
A number of DLCs have been released for the game.
All DLCs are optional and may be applied to the base game in any combination. The largest DLCs come in the form of expansions, which significantly alter the mechanics and features of the game. There are also flavor packs (which add new events and minor mechanics, usually specific to one nation), music packs (which add more backing music) and cosmetic packs (which affect unit models, portraits, and the map). There are also three e-books which have no impact on the game itself, but coincided with the release of expansions.
Expansions are often accompanied by coinciding free patches to the game, which may adjust existing mechanics or add new ones in the theme of the expansion.
|Conquest of Paradise||11 January 2014||Conquest of Paradise focuses on the New World. It adds an expansion to the mechanics of tribal nations, most prominently Native American ones. It also adds a random new world generator which randomizes the landscape of North and South America. The accompanying 1.5 patch also added colonial regions, protectorates and new starting nations as well as many other small additions and fixes.|
|Wealth of Nations||29 May 2014||Wealth of Nations, named after the book by Adam Smith, includes new mechanics for trade and merchant republics. The most prominent additions also include trade companies, privateering, and construction of the Suez, Panama, and Kiel canals. The accompanying 1.6 patch included a new rival system, policies, and extra ship designs.|
|Res Publica||16 July 2014||Res Publica, translated as 'public affair' in Latin, is the root of the word republic. It focuses on governance and trade. New mechanics pertaining to elections are introduced, along with election events for the Dutch republics and a national focus. The Republican Dictatorship form of government is also included. The accompanying 1.7 patch included extra idea groups and Merchant Republic factions.|
|Art of War||30 October 2014||Art of War, named after the book by Sun Tzu, focuses on military mechanics. It expands on the Thirty Years' War and the Napoleonic era, improves diplomacy (especially surrounding conflict and peace treaties), expands vassal mechanics and adds new options for waging war. The accompanying 1.9 patch amongst other things overhauled rebel mechanics, improved the map and added large interface, AI and gameplay improvements. The map improvements increased the number of provinces on the game map, in regions which previously lacked detail, such as Asia and Africa.|
|El Dorado||26 February 2015||El Dorado, named after the mythical El Dorado, improves largely on the nations of Central and South America. This includes Nahuatl, Inti and Mayan religions, a "doom counter" for the Central American tribes, improved mechanics and added events. Exploration and colonisation of these areas is also expanded upon - for example, the Treaty of Tordesillas is added and conquistadors can explore into terra incognita to search for the Seven Cities of Gold. A custom nation designer is included. The accompanying 1.11 patch included new events for South and Central America, improved terrain and general improvements to gameplay.|
|Common Sense||9 June 2015||Common Sense, named after the famous pamphlet written by Thomas Paine, focuses on diplomacy, religion and internal development. New religious gameplay is added, focusing on Protestants and Buddhists. Parliaments are added, and a special parliamentary government is granted to England. The coinciding 1.13 patch included new religions, improvements to the peace system and a reworking of the fort system. The number of building slots were also decreased, but the existing ones made more powerful.|
|The Cossacks||1 December 2015||The Cossacks, named after the Cossacks of Ukraine, Poland, and Russia, adds additional diplomacy options and a wide variety of internal politics for peacetime. Primarily this is represented through the "Estate" system, which allows provinces to be assigned noble landholders, the church, burghers, and more in return for various bonuses and modifiers. Additionally, The Cossacks adds mechanics for horde government types and adds mechanics to the Tengri religion.|
|Mare Nostrum||5 April 2016||Mare Nostrum, translated as "Our Sea" in Latin, was the Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea. As its name suggests, this expansion introduces new content connected to naval warfare, trade and espionage. Now one can put ships on a naval blockade mission or on a hunting naval mission. One can also create trade leagues, offer Condottieri to other countries to fight and a new timeline feature where one can at any point through the campaign click it and watch how the world has evolved throughout the game. The accompanying 1.16 patch made significant changes to espionage, added new map modes, two new systems for states, territories, and corruption, as well as various new provinces for Ireland and Africa.|
|Rights of Man||11 October 2016||Rights of Man was released along with the 1.18 "Prussia" patch. The DLC and patch included a new Great Powers system where the eight most powerful nations were listed as "Great Powers" and could access new diplomatic features such as making minor nations break their alliances with other Great Powers. The patch also included new governments for Prussia and the Ottoman Empire, and a massive reworking of the technology system called the Institutions, which add penalties to any nation which hasn't embraced a given institution (such as Feudalism, Renaissance, etc.), and made the process of 'westernization' obsolete.|
|Mandate of Heaven||6 April 2017||Mandate of Heaven, named after the ancient Chinese political concept, focuses on improving the East Asian region and contains new mechanics for Ming China, along with the ability of surrounding states to claim the title of the Chinese Emperor. There are also new Chinese meritocracy mechanics, the ability of Manchu tribes to raise banners, and a new Japanese shogunate system with events that allow Japan to become more isolationist or open in character. Outside of East Asia, there are now 'Ages' that focus gameplay on distinct historical periods in the Early Modern era, including Ages focusing on the European discovery and colonization of the Americas, the Protestant Reformation and religious conflict in Europe, French-style political absolutism, and the 18th century revolutions occurring in France and the Americas. The free 'Ming' 1.20 patch includes a new absolutism mechanic along with a province devastation feature.|
|Third Rome||14 June 2017||Third Rome focuses on the Russian nations, Orthodox religion and Siberian territories. It also introduces new ranks of Russian government along with new abilities. One of the main features the DLC adds is Siberian Frontier Russian nations can slowly colonize uninhabited border regions, with no fear of native uprisings.. This feature is only available for countries in the Russian territories. Third Rome was released along with the free 1.22 "Russia" patch.|
|Cradle of Civilization||6 November 2017||Cradle of Civilization revamps the Middle East region by adding new provinces, countries and events, in addition to new trade policies and army drilling.|
|Rule Britannia||20 March 2018||Rule Britannia is named after Thomas Arne's Rule, Britannia! It was released together with the free 1.25 update, which adds provinces to Ireland, England, Northern France, and the Low Countries. The DLC adds a new religion, Anglicanism, new missions, knowledge sharing, naval doctrines, the ability to develop coal and many other features.|
|Dharma||6 September 2018||Dharma was released with the free 1.26 Mughals update. Dharma adds government reforms, a reworked policy system and new features relating to South Asia, trade companies and estates.|
|Golden Century||11 December 2018||Golden Century was released on 11 December 2018. This expansion focuses on Iberia, the Maghreb, Central America, and colonization.|
|Unannounced content||2020||The new expansion is going to focus on Europe and feature a large-scale mercenary rework, touches on Catholicism and the Holy Roman Empire and include extensive map changes from France to the Balkans.|
Aside from the official expansion packs, third-party mods are available on sites such as the Steam Workshop. The mods can change the game's setting, add or remove features and game mechanics, and make graphical improvements. Popular mods include "Extended Timeline", which expands the game's scope from 2 AD to the year 9999, the Game of Thrones adaptation "A Song of Ice and Fire," and complete overhauls such as "MEIOU & Taxes".
Europa Universalis IV was met with generally favourable reviews, receiving a score of 87/100 on aggregate website Metacritic. Critics praised the improvements from Europa Universalis III, especially the new mechanics and graphics. T.J. Hafer of PC Gamer described the game as an "engrossing simulation that conquers the common ground between your average Civilization V player and the long-time devotees of grand strategy". Negative feedback focused on the tutorials, combat mechanics and bugs. Nicholas Pellegatta acknowledged these bugs and other issues were likely to be addressed in later patches and expansions.
In 2013 Europa Universalis IV won the "Golden Horseshoe" award in the category of "Game of the Year" on the Polish website gikz.pl. It also won "Best Strategy" and "Best Historical" in Game Debate's 2013 awards.
As of February 2014, Europa Universalis IV had sold over 300,000 copies. By January 2016, over 900,000 games were registered on Steam. As of 21 June 2016, over 1 million copies have been sold.
In May 2017, Paradox Interactive normalized the prices of the game worldwide and its other products to account for the games being cheaper than intended in many non-western nations, just weeks before the annual summer Steam sale. This has led to massive backlash and boycotts by people from the affected nations, including a massive increase in negative user reviews on Steam in the following weeks. On 22 June 2017 Paradox CEO, Fredrik Wester, announced that the prices would be returned to previous levels after the Steam summer sale and claimed they would try to reimburse anyone who bought their products during the time of the price adjustment.
In May 2014, Paradox released a book, Europa Universalis IV: What If? the Anthology of Alternate History, a collection of short stories inspired by the game and its time period, including one by Harry Turtledove. The book was released as an ebook, as DLC for the game, and as a physical edition (ISBN 978-9187687440).
In May 2018, at their PDXCon convention, Paradox announced that board games were being developed based upon four of their franchises, stating that they were on a "mission to expand the IP." The Europa Universalis game is being designed by Eivind Vetlesen of Aegir Games, with Jonathan Bolding of PC Gamer describing a preview version as "something between a high player count Twilight Imperium and A Game of Thrones with a dash of Napoleon in Europe".
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