The AI powers are now much more aggressive against the American native states. In my current game as Castile, it’s only 1530 and England has already wiped out the Huron, Iroquois, Shawnee, Cherokee and Creek. The new ability to simply seize “pagan” territories without a proper peace deal seems to mean that if you don’t move fast in the exploration race there will be no one left to exploit. This has the potential to be unbalancing, though, and makes the already rapid European expansion even faster.
The reduction in the number of border disputes helps a lot in keeping states a reasonable size for at least the first hundred years. With no free casus belli, it can be difficult to expand to the ends of the map. This means war is more costly in stability, is more often a matter of real choice and you have no guarantee of core provinces once the war is concluded. France has annexed its vassals, as it should, and has built a serpentine corridor into the HRE, leading to a series of wars with Austria. But the new peace resolution system means that states are freed more often. I still think that Germany will be French or Burgundian by 1618, but we’ll see. (France now has 10% revolt risk in all her provinces thanks to repeated stability hits and prolonged continental wars.)
The advisor tweaks are OK. I’m not sure if the conversion rate bonus to religious advisors is better than the additional missionaries from before, but I loved having level 5 Torquemada and a level 6 random priest when I conquered Northwest Africa. 70 per cent chance of conversion to Catholicism everywhere. Likewise, the colonial advisor tweak from additional colonists to higher chance of success in colonization is a mixed bag. Glad the diplomatic advisor is useful now, though. Your reputation will now be improved if you have one of these guys in your employ. I still think spymasters are unnecessary, but the AI is really big on using spies. I prefer swords to paper.
It is still much too easy to become papal controller or Holy Roman Emperor with no effort. The bonuses for these positions are huge – manpower strength, prestige gains, lower stability cost. But the AI’s willingness to simply poison relations with its neighbors means that even though I had zero diplomatic contact with any of the electors of the HRE and never bribed a cardinal, Castile was able to win and hold both positions sometime in the 1480s. I still hold them.
Cultural revolts are more serious now. Instead of a single province, you can have an entire region go up in flames. I ignored the Basques to my peril. Fortunately France declared war and cleared the rebels out for me and I smote whatever invaders were left.
On the interface front, you can now set messages to pause on pop-up if you want. Still no way to automate merchants.
This being Paradox, they are almost certainly already working on yet another patch that will render the game documentation even more irrelevant. I’d like to see more serious decision making in the National Ideas part of the game – some balancing that wouldn’t just push me to choose the same seven or eight economic ones (Viceroys, Scientific Revolution, Trade Efficiency, National Bank, etc.) and a few other political ones (New World, Church Attendance, Humanist Tolerance, Bill of Rights.) More money means more mercenaries, so you can almost forget about many of the military ideas.
I’m still a fan of the game, and I think I appreciate it more with the adjustments that have been made. I still miss a lot of the historical flavor of EU2, but was never a huge fan of the huge event based mods since they seemed determined to push me in a direction I wasn’t sure I wanted to go.