Flash of Steel header image 2

Major Update on EU III

August 16th, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Paradox has just added a new development diary for Europa Universalis III and I’m getting a little antsy.

First the positive. The game is looking much better and there will be extended political events that may put the player in a difficult position. The screenshot of a Succession War means that sometimes you will be forced into political unions by dynastic events. This is both historically appropriate and very cool.

Not so cool, to me at least, is the announcement that the game will more fully embrace the random event/alternate history model of Crusader Kings. I loved CK and how the history/event engine mixed up the tried and true “this is how it happened” model of the early decades of Victoria and the whole of Europa Universalis II.

But I think something important is lost in EU by throwing historical monarchs overboard. We are assured that the historical rulers are present for the appropriate starting years. If you start the game in 1588, Elizabeth I will be a war with Philip II. But once they die – and they will die at unpredictable points – the alternate history takes over. You won’t know how skilled your successor will be and you won’t know if the country will hold together.

The reasons for the change are perfectly acceptable. You can’t plan your game around the Timurid revolts or the accession of Charles V now, and those who lived the history at the time couldn’t either. The recognition of player precognition is an important element in sound game design and this, on paper, is sound game design.

Part of the charm of Europa Universalis, though, was that you were living history. The Reformation, the voyages of Columbus, the campaigns of Gustavus Adolphus…all were an essential part of EU to me. There may be great design reasons for turfing much of this but the “textbook on the screen” nature of EU2 was core to the game’s flavor. I’m not going to condemn the new system outright, especially since it works so well in Crusader Kings. But I will mourn the end of those crossroads of history moments.

What of those historical events that tracked a nation’s rise and fall? They will now be tied to the core reasons for the events in the first place. So there will be a deeper historical understanding underneath EU3 in the place of the straight narrative approach of the earlier games. This too is appealing, if less colorful than a text box with the history of the Wars of the Roses.

There is also news that press preview builds are already being assembled. With the game still many months out, this seems early to be getting code into the hands of the media. This is a very promising sign.


3 Comments so far ↓

  • flashman

    I know that game isn’t done yet, but the map and the units in that screenshot look terrible. Compared to the map and units in a game like Birth of America which have a real hand-drawn, polished look to them and and the tilted 3Dish perspective in EU3….it doesn’t look so hot. Oh well, EU3 will live or die by its gameplay regardless of how it looks I guess.

  • Troy

    The graphics are the last thing to be done in a game as simple looking as EU and they have already made a quantum leap from the early screens which were downright hideous. The zoom level is a little deceptive, too, since no one plays games that close to the map. I’m confident that it will look much better in a month or two.

    Probably not as attractive, though, as Birth of America which you are right to single out as a very pretty game.

  • Getting at the Core Experience

    […] You can see it on the blog of one of Paradox’s biggest fans. And you read it here first many months ago. Some people will miss their […]