Paradox hasn't been shy about the fact it's working on a new grand strategy game. It's been two years since Stellaris and Hearts of Iron IV, and despite the usual trickle of post-release DLC for each game it's felt like maybe time for something new. Paradox said as much in February, hinting we'd see more at Paradox Con—and that it would not be the long-awaited Victoria III.
They weren't lying. It's not Victoria III. Smart money rumored a game set in Ancient Rome, and sure enough Paradox revealed Imperator: Rome at the annual PdxCon 2018—plus Age of Wonders: Planetfall, a slate of expansions, and...board games? Let's dig in.
There aren't many details on Imperator: Rome yet. Just a brief trailer, and the promise of an early 2019 release. Also, some light details on the map, which stretches from Britain to India and features 7000 cities, and a brief mention of war elephants. We're slated to learn more during Paradox Con proper, so look for more on that soon.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall is an interesting digression. Eschewing the fantasy trappings of its predecessors going back almost 20 years, Planetfall is a science fiction 4X game—a bit like Civilization: Beyond Earth if Beyond Earth had aliens. From the press release:
"In Age of Wonders: Planetfall, players will emerge from the dark age of a fallen galactic empire to craft a new future for their people. Exploring the planetary ruins and encountering other surviving factions that have each evolved in their own way, players will unravel the history of a shattered civilization."
This is Triumph's first game since being acquired by Paradox last year, so I'm curious to see what comes of it. I wasn't the biggest fan of Age of Wonders III, but I think a change of scenery could liven the formula up immensely—and hopefully a more streamlined interface, too.
Expansions, expansions, expansions. It feels like an annual tradition for Paradox Con to detail at least three substantial expansions. This year, it's Crusader Kings II, Europa Universalis, and Hearts of Iron IV who get the honor. (Or, more likely, who lined up with the event planning.)
For Crusader Kings II, it's Holy Fury. Going on six years old now, it's high time Crusader Kings II reworked its namesake, the Crusades. Expect some changes there, as well as changes to Paganism. Here's a short, detail-light teaser:
Europa Universalis: Dharma is, as the title indicates, a rework of the game's Indian subcontinent. From the press release:
"A hundred and fifty million souls speaking dozens of languages stand between European traders and unimaginable wealth. Diplomacy, war and subterfuge will be used on both sides to either preserve the power of the Mughal emperor and his dependents or to undermine that throne. Unite the Indian people, or divide and conquer."
And an even shorter teaser:
Last but not least, Hearts of Iron IV: Man the Guns. The expansion reworks naval combat, which is perpetually overlooked and yet of supreme importance to any World War II strategy game. Expect ship refitting and redesigns, plus some new alt-history timelines. The teaser below mentions the "First American Civil War," which uh…might indicate something.
And then there are the board games. Not exactly a perfect fit for us here at PCWorld, but I'm excited as someone who enjoys both Paradox and tabletop games. There are four slated to release in the near future: Crusader Kings, Hearts of Iron, Cities: Skylines, and Europa Universalis.
Cities: Skylines is obviously the odd one out there, a city builder among war-centric games. Paradox said the level of complexity should be comparable to Ticket to Ride, which piqued my interest, but I still have no idea how it plays.
The rest are more traditional fare. Hearts of Iron IV is presumably a pretty standard World War II wargame, and evidently the most complicated. Europa Universalis is similar in tone, if not in the details. And then there's Crusader Kings, designed by Free League, which tries to balance territory acquisition with the story-centric play that the digital version is known for. It's on Kickstarter now (the usual haven for board game production).