The easiest way to describe Europa Universalis IV is as a world conquest simulator. In the game you are faced with the task of creating and maintaining an empire. You are faced with tough decisions that will potentially change the future for your empire. Create allies, marry into other families, go to war, whatever you desire is for your kingdom it can be done.
As soon as I loaded the game I was greeted with loading screens on which stood well-dressed royals standing proud with triumphant music playing in the background. It really set the scene and got me in the mood for the game. The loading screens also presented me with very nice artwork which really showed off the time period very nicely.
Once in the game I created a new save and although not recommended for new players, I chose to play as my nation, England. On the nation selection stage it shows you a map and all of the available nations, their history and their individual stats. They all have their weaknesses and strengths and Based on your preference you can choose which one best suits you. Different nations are categorized with different difficulties, meaning some are considered harder than others because of their timeline.
I chose to first do the tutorial as I have no experience with this game or the series. The basic tutorial covers 12 different chapters including using the camera, combat skills and production. I found this very useful as without it I found it difficult to understand the interface and understand what it was I had to do.
The game was all played on a map with the areas clearly labelled and the environment laid out in very nice detail. From my experience these types of games are normally very slow to start with and only really get interesting at the end, but this game kept me hooked right from the start. Europa Universalis IV manages to keep a very good balance between combat and other duties that you must fulfill. In EU4 it’s not just about growing your army, you also need to grow your trading and your production within your empire as well.
The game also includes a very interesting feature which allows you to make allies with other regions. You are able to marry into other royal families and strategically create friendships with powerful people who will indirectly make your empire more powerful.
Many gamers who buy games of this genre (myself included) have their sights set firmly on military expansion and eventual world domination. The games time frame is set during the renaissance-era from 1444 to 1820. Beginning with the advent of the New World and ending post-Napoleonic wars, so there’s amble opportunity for researching new technologies, trade and exploration as well as all out conquest. But the game has added a number of intricacies that mean sometimes it is not always wise to flex your muscles and go gallivanting around the globe.
AI is much smarter and combat is less irrational when it comes to tactics, unlike some previous games. The AI provides a genuine challenge that can cause much head scratching. Countries are more eager to form coalitions against you if they believe conducting an aggressive policy in your local region, though on the other hand if you stay inactive militarily and dormant for too long, your Army Tradition will start to deteriorate and could impact upon your army’s effectiveness when it is necessary to go to war. Just like Crusader Kings II you will need to sweeten countries and leaders alike with gifts and peace offerings and partake in the ritual melodrama to get what you desire, something that makes both games so personal and unique, allowing genuine personal control over your country’s own destiny. Therefore the game never feels like it is stagnating.
I was really impressed with the accessibility of the game, newcomers to the grand strategy genre will no longer be overwhelmed and daunted by complex interfaces and if you are familiar with Crusader Kings II then it will make for a smooth transition. The game is not perfect by any means but it is one of the most easily accessible Paradox games to date and well worth a look if you fancy a crack at world domination.
To sum up if your interested in this style of game at all, then you will love this. I highly recommend this game.