Europa Universalis IV

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Europa Universalis IV
EuropaUniversalisIV Packshot edited.png
Developer(s)Paradox Development Studio
Publisher(s)Paradox Interactive
Director(s)Johan Andersson
Producer(s)Linda Kiby
Designer(s)Johan Andersson
Programmer(s)Niklas Strid
Artist(s)Fredrik Toll
Composer(s)Andreas Waldetoft
EngineClausewitz Engine
Platform(s)Windows, macOS, Linux
Release13 August 2013
Genre(s)Grand strategy
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Europa Universalis IV is a 2013 grand strategy video game in the Europa Universalis series, developed by Paradox Development Studio and published by Paradox Interactive as a sequel to Europa Universalis III (2007).[1] 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 (1444–1821),[2] conducting trade, administration, diplomacy, colonization, and warfare.

Gameplay[edit]

The game has been formed to begin historically, with events occurring when they did in history. 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, power projection, stability, gold (ducats), manpower, legitimacy for monarchies, republican tradition for republics, devotion for theocracies, horde unity for steppe nomads, meritocracy for celestial empires, and monarch power (administrative, diplomatic, and military).

Players can choose to conquer the world by military might, become a colonial superpower, establish trade dominance, etc. as one of over 500 different nations. These nations range alphabetically from Aachen to Zuni.[3] The game is a sandbox environment, and while there is no strict rule on winning the game, the game of the player is over 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. Trade is also an important part of the game, where the world is divided into many trade nodes and trade flows through each of the nodes and can be collected by merchants.

Many major religions, such as Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Sunni, and Shia 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. Native American and Aboriginal religions are also present in the game, most commonly utilizing a system of selecting a bonus for the lifetime of the present monarch.

Furthermore, many of the world's institutions, from feudalism to industrialization, are also present in the game.[4] Institutions normally begin around a certain year, and begin spreading through provinces. The rate of institution spread and where the institution spawns is malleable to player actions. The institution coincides with increasing the price of technology, as the lack of an embraced institution increases the cost of corresponding technological levels. Once reaching requirements, usually consisting of a ducat cost and a certain amount of institution present in the player's provinces, the player is able to embrace the institution. An embracement gives an institution-specific nation bonus, as well as purging any technological maluses that the lack of institution may have incurred.

Technological advancements are invested in over time, and require the expense of monarch points. They provide benefits to the nation as detailed below:

  • Administrative technology 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. Some events are also motivated by various institutions that occur throughout the history of the game, such as the Industrial Revolution. 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.

Development[edit]

Early design discussions for Europa Universalis IV began shortly after the December 2010 release of Divine Wind, the final DLC for Europa Universalis III[5] with development, based on the Clausewitz Engine, beginning in earnest in about September 2011.[6] It was first announced to the public in August 2012, to coincide with a showing at that year's Gamescom,[7] after having been teased under the codename of "Project Truman".[8]

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.[9] These included information about design philosophy, game mechanisms that were being implemented, and features from Europa Universalis III that were being removed.

During its development, Europa Universalis IV 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, Fredrik Wester, described this perception as being like "a slap in the face", motivating them to improve.[10] 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.[11]

Prior to release, a preview version of the game was showcased through Let's Plays[citation needed] and via a multiplayer event for journalists.[12] A playable demo of the game was released on Steam on 9 August 2013 with the game itself being released on 13 August.[11]

Following its release, development of the game has continued under the same model that Paradox had previously used successfully for Crusader Kings II, with paid DLCs being released alongside, and helping to fund, additional free patches which add more features to the base game.[13] As of November 2021, eighteen expansions have been released for the game alongside many minor DLCs offering additional graphical or musical options.[14]

In September 2020, Paradox Tinto, a newly formed division of Paradox, took over development of the game led by leader Johan Andersson.[15] This team released the expansions Leviathan and Origins, while also focusing on bug fixes and eventually ending development on the game.[16]

Expansions and mods[edit]

Expansions timeline
2014Conquest of Paradise
Wealth of Nations
Res Publica
Art of War
2015El Dorado
Common Sense
The Cossacks
2016Mare Nostrum
Rights of Man
2017Mandate of Heaven
Third Rome
Cradle of Civilization
2018Rule Britannia
Dharma
Golden Century
2019
2020Emperor
2021Leviathan
Origins
2022Lions of the North

A number of downloadable content (DLC) have been released for the game. All DLCs are optional and may be applied to the base game in any combination. The most significant DLCs come in the form of expansions and immersion packs.

Expansions on one hand, bring broader and considerable changes to the game as they introduce new and improved gameplay mechanics along with many kinds of flavor and various balance tweaks. While immersion packs on the other hand, are expansions of a smaller scale as they focus on specific regions to bring them better to life by granting more flavor.

There are also flavor packs (which add new events and minor mechanisms, 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.

In March 2021, Paradox unveiled an optional subscription service to play the game's vast library of DLC without buying each individual expansion.[17]

Expansions are often accompanied by coinciding free patches to the game, which may adjust existing mechanisms or add new ones in the theme of the expansion.

Name Expansion Release date Full Expansion Description
Conquest of Paradise 1.4 11 January 2014 Yes Conquest of Paradise refers to the colonization of the Americas. It focuses on the New World and expands the mechanisms of tribal nations, most prominently Native American ones. It also adds a random new world generator that randomizes the landscape of North and South America. The accompanying 1.4 patch also adds colonial regions and new starting nations as well as many other small additions and fixes.[18]
Wealth of Nations 1.6 29 May 2014 Yes Wealth of Nations, named after the book by Adam Smith, includes new mechanisms 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 includes a new rival system, policies, extra ship designs, and expanded mechanics for the Hindu and Reformed religions.[19]
Res Publica 1.7 16 July 2014 Yes Res Publica, translated as 'public affair' in Latin, is the root of the word republic. It focuses on governance and trade. New mechanisms 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 added. The accompanying 1.7 patch includes extra idea groups and Merchant Republic factions.[20]
Art of War 1.8 30 October 2014 Yes Art of War, named after the book by Sun Tzu, focuses on military mechanisms. It expands on the Thirty Years' War and the Napoleonic era, it improves diplomacy (especially surrounding conflict and peace treaties), expands vassal mechanisms, and adds new options for waging war. The accompanying 1.8 patch amongst other things overhauls rebel mechanisms, the trade node setup, and AI and gameplay improvements. Over 900 provinces were added, primarily in regions that previously lacked detail, such as Asia and Africa.[21]
El Dorado 1.10 26 February 2015 Yes El Dorado, named after the mythical El Dorado, improves largely on the nations of Central and South America. This includes the new Nahuatl, Mayan, and Inti religions along with a "doom counter" for the Central American nations. Exploration and colonization of these areas are 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 includes new events for Central and South America, improved terrain, and general improvements to gameplay.[22]
Common Sense 1.12 9 June 2015 Yes Common Sense, named after the famous pamphlet written by Thomas Paine, focuses on diplomacy, religion, and internal development. New mechanics are introduced for the Protestant and Buddhist religions. Theocracies are also expanded upon. Parliaments are added, with a special parliamentary government granted to England. The accompanying 1.12 patch includes improvements to the peace system, and a reworking of the fort and looting systems. The number of building slots was also decreased, but the existing ones made more powerful.[23]
The Cossacks 1.14 1 December 2015 Yes The Cossacks, named after the Cossacks of Eastern Europe and the Eurasian Steppe, adds the new Estate system, new mechanics for the Tengri religion, and new horde government mechanisms. Other additions include new diplomatic actions such as threaten war and study technology, as well as the victory card system. The accompanying 1.14 patch adds many UI improvements and another reworking of the mercenary system.[24]
Mare Nostrum 1.16 5 April 2016 Yes 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 includes a major reworking of espionage, several new map modes, new systems for states and territories, and corruption, as well as various new provinces in Ireland and Africa.[25]
Rights of Man 1.18

"Prussia"

11 October 2016 Yes Rights of Man comes from the 1791 book by Thomas Paine of the same name. It includes a new Great Powers system where the eight most highly developed nations are listed as "Great Powers" and have access to new diplomatic abilities. The expansion pack also features new governments for Prussia and the Ottoman Empire, expanded mechanics for the Coptic and Fetishist religions, new mechanisms for revolutionary republics, ruler personalities, and leader traits. The accompanying 1.18 patch introduces "Institutions" and an accompanying reworking of technology.[26]
Mandate of Heaven 1.20

"Ming"

6 April 2017 Yes Mandate of Heaven, named after the Ancient Chinese political concept, focuses on improving East Asia with the "Empire of China" mechanism, new meritocracy mechanisms, the ability of the Manchu tribes to raise banners, a new Japanese Shogunate system, and expanded mechanics for the Confucian and Shinto religions. The "Ages" mechanism is also introduced and it focuses gameplay on distinct historical periods. The accompanying 1.20 patch includes the "Ages" but with none of the in-game mechanisms, the new absolutism system, and province devastation.[27]
Third Rome 1.22

"Russia"

14 June 2017 No Third Rome refers to the idea that Muscovy (and later Russia) are the successors to Byzantium, thus making them the Third Roman Empire. This immersion pack adds the Tsardom government, new mechanics for the Orthodox religion, and a new Siberian frontier idea. The accompanying 1.22 patch adds flavor and new government types for Russian countries.[28]
Cradle of Civilization 1.23

"Persia"

6 November 2017 Yes Cradle of Civilization takes its name from the idea that the Fertile Crescent is home to one of the ancient Cradles of Civilization. The expansion includes trading policies, army professionalism and drilling, the Mamluk government, and new mechanics for Islam along with its various schools. The accompanying 1.23 patch adds new provinces to the Middle Eastern region and new trade goods.[29]
Rule Britannia 1.25

"England"

20 March 2018 No Rule Britannia is named after Thomas Arne's song Rule, Britannia!. This immersion pack adds the Anglican religion, missions for British countries, and naval doctrines. The accompanying 1.25 patch includes map changes to the British Isles, France, and the Low Countries along with a brand new mission system.[30]
Dharma 1.26

"Mughals"

6 September 2018 Yes Dharma is named after the concept present in many Indian religions. It introduces government reform mechanisms, a reworked policy system, and many new missions and flavor for Indian countries. The accompanying 1.26 patch adds estates to the base game, an overhaul of South Asia, and a new policies system.[31]
Golden Century 1.28

"Spain"

11 December 2018 No Golden Century takes its name from the Golden Century of Spain. This immersion pack focuses on mission trees and flavor for countries in the Iberian and Maghrebi regions, as well as added colonization mechanisms and pirate governments. The accompanying 1.28 patch adds national ideas and events for many Iberian and North African countries.[32]
Emperor 1.30

"Austria"

9 June 2020 Yes Emperor featured many large-scale reworks to the Holy Roman Empire (new reforms and imperial incidents), Revolutions (centers of revolutions), and Catholicism (the Council of Trent and new papal abilities). The accompanying 1.30 patch includes extensive map changes across Europe, the new industrialization institution, reworked estates, and mercenaries systems, and extensive flavor events and mission trees for many different countries.[33]
Leviathan 1.31

"Majapahit"

27 April 2021 Yes Leviathan, named after the book by Thomas Hobbes, focuses on giving the player greater variety for playing "tall". The expansion focuses on new development interactions in your provinces as well as an overhaul to the favor system and colonial nations. The accompanying 1.31 patch provides map and gameplay overhauls of North America, Southeast Asia, and Oceania that include the introduction of Aboriginal Australians and Pacific Islanders along with enhancements to playing as the Native North American nations. Mechanics for the Alcheringa, Totemist, Zoroastrian, and Sikh religions are also expanded upon.[34]
Origins 1.32

"Songhai"

11 November 2021 No Origins, referencing the Out of Africa theory, focuses on new mission trees and events for the African states of Mali, Songhai, Kongo, Ethiopia, Ajuuraan, Kilwa, and Mutapa. This immersion pack also adds mechanics for Judaism, new army sprites, new missionary models, and African themed music. The accompanying 1.32 patch includes flavor, new monuments, new formable countries, and map changes to sub-Saharan Africa.[35]
Lions of the North 1.34

"Sweden"

13 September 2022 No Lions of the North, referencing states along the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, focuses on new mission trees and mechanics for Baltic and Scandinavian nations including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Gotland, Poland, Lithuania, Teutonic Order, Livonian Order, and Riga. New government reforms and unique unit types for nations in the area are also included.[36]

Mods[edit]

Aside from the official expansion packs, third-party mods are available on sites such as the Steam Workshop.[37] The mods can change the game's setting, add or remove features and game mechanisms, add new land masses to the "random new world" generator, 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 The Elder Scrolls "Elder Scrolls Universalis", to complete overhauls like "MEIOU & Taxes" and fantasy total conversions such as "Anbennar".[37]

Reception[edit]

Europa Universalis IV was met with generally favourable reviews, receiving a score of 87/100 on aggregate website Metacritic.[38] Critics praised the improvements from Europa Universalis III, especially the new mechanisms and graphics.[43][39] 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".[42] Negative feedback focused on the tutorials, combat mechanisms and bugs. Nicholas Pellegatta acknowledged these bugs and other issues were likely to be addressed in later patches and expansions.[44]

In 2013 Europa Universalis IV won "Best Strategy" and "Best Historical" in Game Debate's 2013 awards.[45]

It was nominated for "Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year" at the 2014 D.I.C.E. Awards.[46]

The 2021 expansion Leviathan was the worst-rated title on the Steam platform at launch, with only 7% positive reviews. Players complained about a multitude of bugs and untested or incomplete features.[47]

From September 30 to October 7, 2021, Europa Universalis IV was available for free on the Epic Games Store.[48]

Sales[edit]

As of February 2014, Europa Universalis IV had sold over 300,000 copies.[49] By January 2016, over 900,000 games were registered on Steam.[50] As of 21 June 2016, over 1 million copies have been sold.[51] As of February 2021, the game has over 2 million owners.[52]

Pricing adjustments[edit]

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.[citation needed] Later on 22 June 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.[53]

Spin-offs[edit]

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,[54] 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".[55] The Europa Universalis game (eventually named Europa Universalis: the Price of Power) was designed by Eivind Vetlesen of Aegir Games and has a solo mode by David Turczi. Jonathan Bolding of PC Gamer described a preview version as "something between a high player count Twilight Imperium and A Game of Thrones with a dash of Napoleon in Europe".[56] No release date has been specified, but the game is expected to release in mid to late 2022.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  55. ^ Bolding, Jonathan (19 May 2018). "Paradox board games are coming: Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings, and more". PC Gamer.
  56. ^ Bolding, Jonathan (8 June 2018). "The Europa Universalis board game is shaping up to be a monster". PC Gamer.

External links[edit]