Paradox Interactive's "grand strategy" games are a type of game I find completely unfathomable.
This is frustrating, because I really want to like them -- they're the kinds of games that make for brilliant emergent narrative as you marry off the children of your dynasty in order to assert your dominance across whatever empire it is you're trying to conquer this time around. I respect what they're doing, in short -- I just tend to find that the impenetrable barrier erected by the combination of their complicated interfaces and seeming lack of any sort of helpful tutorial makes me feel like these games aren't "for" me.
And that's fine, because there's plenty of people out there who do get a lot out of these games, some of whom may be reading this very site right now.
Paradox's previous title Crusader Kings II has been expanded on several times with some substantial DLC offerings, and is still widely-played today. But now we find ourselves with the next installment in the company's series bearing down on us: Europa Universalis IV.
Europa Universalis IV follows on from Crusader Kings II, allowing players to take control of a nation in the "age of exploration" -- specifically, the year 1444 until 1821. As in Crusader Kings II, gameplay combines combat, diplomacy and a huge number of other considerations to produce a deep, complicated experience that allows you to either attempt to live out history as it happened, or completely rewrite it altogether.
Those who preorder the upcoming game will have even more of a chance to mess up history, because not only does a preorder of Europa Universalis IV provide you with a free copy of Crusader Kings II either to keep or give to a friend, it also allows you access to a saved game converter, letting you bring your Crusader Kings II save game into the new game and continue where your dynasty left off.
This is something that previous Paradox games have done, and it often leads to interesting results. They don't necessarily lead to the most balanced results in terms of gameplay, of course -- particularly if, say, you were having a particularly good run on your last playthrough before importing your save -- but it can be both fascinating and amusing to see how history could have played out differently.
The save game converter and free copy of Crusader Kings II will be available from August 1 onwards to those who preorder the game. If you have already preordered, you'll automatically receive these additional items, along with the two previous bonuses from June and July: new models for the 100 Years War, and the "Purple Phoenix" pack, featuring new events, pictures and unit models for the Byzantine Empire. Paradox hasn't said if the save game converter -- or indeed these other bonus items -- will eventually be available to those who didn't preorder, however.
If you're up early enough, you can watch Paradox showing off how the save game converter works today at 11 a.m. Pacific Time over on their Twitch channel. Alternatively, find out more about the game and its preorder bonuses over at the official site.
Europa Universalis IV will be out on August 13 for $39.99 or $44.99 for the "Digital Extreme Edition."