Saturday, April 26, 2014

Get Europa Universalis IV Digital Extreme Edition [Online Game Code]

Get Europa Universalis IV Digital Extreme Edition [Online Game Code]




Paradox has a reputation for releasing games with significant defects that are not fixed until later patching, so I wasn't sure if it made sense to start playing EU4 so early after release. However with around 25 hours of gameplay I haven't had to deal with any significant bugs.

The gameplay is at least as balanced as in EU3, probably more balanced. Only the prestige system seemed to me to need noticeably reworking as it was far too easy to keep/maintain high levels of prestige. Congratulations to paradox for releasing a game with dozens of leveling-up systems to have almost all of them working well.

The most noticeable change from EU3 is the technology system. I find the "monarch points" system used significantly improves on the system used in EU3. You can not directly adjust the resources you want to put into them as in EU3, instead you accumulate a certain amount of monarch points a month, determined primarily by the attributes of your monarch (luck) and, to a lesser extent, your advisers.

However executing many decisions also requires use of these common monarch points. Reducing war exhaustion, for example, will slow down technological growth. (Stability is increased through use of monarch points, not through passage of time alone, as in EU3.) Incorporating territories won after war will slow down technological growth, building large numbers of structures in the mid-late game will slow down technological growth. Having too many alliances, or too many generals, can slow down technological growth, and so on.

In EU3 how exactly expansion impaired technology growth required understanding a rather complex and obtuse algorithm that was not readily accessible to players in the game, in EU4 however the relationship is simple, direct, easy to understand. A marked improvement here!

Mercenaries, which were mostly useless in EU3, now are crucial and almost necessary to use extensively. The strength of mercenary units regenerates over time, unlike in EU3, so using a mercenary or partly mercenary army in a war is a viable option.

Manpower recovers much more slowly in EU4 than in EU3, the result being that pointless wars and quagmires are much more costly. A successful war against a weaker enemy can leave you vulnerable 10-20 years after due to the depletion of manpower. Like in EU3, the most important decisions made are usually when and when not to fight in wars.

EU3 did a good job compared to other grand stategy games in presenting significant costs and drawbacks to territorial expansion. More territory is not always better. This emphasis continues in EU4. Like I mentioned earlier, if you expand you will have to delay technological growth. When you conquer a new territory you will have to rebuild all structures, so even a high quality territory will not start pulling its weight until dozens of years after it is obtained. Breaking up a large power territoriality by using the release nations option also bears significant cost.

Some other changes I can think of:

-Taking out loans is now a viable often rational decision, rather than an indicator that you are failing/collapsing.

-Inflation's influence is greatly reduced, compared to EU3 where maintaining proper rates of inflation was crucial to success.

-The combat system,random events, religion, role of navies seems largely preserved from EU3.

-The diplomacy system is largely preserved, but is improved and less gamey, you cannot, for example, keep relations high by continuing to send gifts.

-The trade system is simplified. I'm yet undecided if this improves over EU3, or unnecessarily simplifies.

-Cultural tradition is no longer present, advisers function quite differently.

-Changing government attributes via the "scale" system (free trade vs mercantilism, religious vs innovative etc) has been removed.

-Constables have been removed, income is main factor limiting production of new buildings.

-Manufactures are less powerful, simply doubling trade goods produced and providing no other benefits.

-Primitive nations have huge amounts of gold in their treasuries, so conquering them can bring huge rewards.


The problematic and weak points of the game are, I find are all shared with EU3.

The mission card system is useless. Why would I fight a major war to gain 25 diplomatic power? The few options that are viable are overpowered. By building 3 forts, I was able to improve my army tradition 15 points.

Weather is included, but seems to have neglible effect on game mechanics. This opposed to real life, where military campaigning in Western Europe was rare to unheard of in winter months. Also, shouldn't I be seeing snow in the southern hemisphere when it is winter in the north?

The game is quite fun at the beginning when you have little power and are trying to accumulate more of it. The fun is considerably lessened when you become very powerful, and game feels pointless once you become hegemonic. By 1650, playing as Austria, I had twice the income and military strength than anyone else and could do whatever I wanted, so why play on?

If your computer has a slow processor, it will take a very long time indeed to play. My 2013 desktop with a very weak processor makes it such that 7 game years takes about 1 hour. To play fully through the game I have to put it at the center of my activities for more than a week. Of course nothing that game developers can be faulted for, but something for people with old or weak computers to keep in mind.

What good reason is there to be able to access, via the ledger, perfect information on all nations economy and military strength. To have perfect information on all aspects. Since you can know when an enemy is weak, you can easily wait until then and fight and win an easy war. Numerous times I wasn't even considering an attack, until I looked at the ledger and realized I had an easy victory. Wouldn't it make more sense to have this information partially inaccessible and/or sometimes inaccurate, to only be able to access it via action of spies?

The biggest lacking in the game by far though is the AI. Specifically, how the AI handles war. (The AI appears decent though occasionally bizarre in diplomacy and economic management.) Yes, it's understood that it's all but impossible to program AI to handle strategic aspects of war, and also it extremely difficult to program sensible human-like tactical behavior. I understand the difficulty of the problem from a game developers perspective, but that shouldn't be an excuse for downright AI stupidity.

The AI fights all wars in the same way. Once you grasp what this way is you need only to follow a few very basic, very intuitive ideas to be able to win against him. The AI does retreat if it sees that your army is bigger, but you can still usually chase them down with your bigger army and defeat them. "Tactics" is little more than tediously clicking on the correct province as both armies move around. Once war is declared the AI usually will start sieging on of your provinces. Even if you out number them 10-1 AI will send army in to attack you. How hard is it to program AI not to engage if at an overwhelming disadvantage? Or to keep separate armies close to each other so they can help each other if one of them is attacked? If a big power and small power are allied in a war, why not have the small power attach its armies to the larger, instead of wasting their armies in tiny counter attacks?

Naval AI is arguably worse still. I was playing Austria at war with Ottoman Empire. Ottoman empire has one navy 5 times the size of mine, and two small navies. The large navy is blockading Venezia. I take my navy over to Constantinople and destroy both small navies. The large one never breaks off it's siege. (In Hearts of Iron 3, another paradox game, I was able to destroy the entire Japanese Fleet because it wouldn't leave port.)

The place for improvement in the Europa Universalis series is undoubtedly the AI.

In sum though, I was impressed with how solid EU4 was. Compared to EU3 it is undoubtedly an improvement, so if you liked the former you should like this one.