Ever wanted to rewrite ancient history? Then Paradox Interactive’s Europa Universalis IV is perhaps the best PC title let alone game to do so. With a humongous timeline that takes place from the year 1444 to 1821, Europa Universalis IV is quite literally one of the biggest games you’ve ever played–save for Crusader Kings II, another spectacular title in the Paradox Interactive library. But what a title such as Europa Universalis IV truly has going for it is just how much you can influence the game world as a player.
Having personally been a longtime player of the Europa Universalis series in general, each new sequel in the franchise has seen me vigorously involved in planning and establishing a strategy for my “what if” empire. Whether this is attempting to transform the Cherokee nation in 1444 to a worldwide superpower, to simply breaking free from the imperial rule as a Japanese daimyo and gaining independence, the influential nature of the game allows players to plot their own destiny and reshape the world landscape as they see fit. One can allocate their country’s strength towards military affairs, aggressively fabricating claims on other neighboring countries, or just simply build a trade empire that stretches from continent to continent. It is all very addicting, informative, and just plain fun to see history in just a little different light depending on your actions.
In my current game, I am trying to unite and form India before the British Empire gets too involved in colonial ventures into the subcontinent, which is not an easy task. Of course, once united, eventually fighting the British Empire will be a whole task unto itself, but this is exactly why Europa Universalis IV is a game that primarily pertains to history buffs who want to see how the numerous possible outcomes of certain historical events changed empires, countries, and monarchies. Maybe I will defeat the British Empire, ultimately crushing their goals to control the subcontinent. Or perhaps it will end in a stalemate, with each of us bargaining for monetary compensation. Or maybe it will end in utter defeat on my behalf, with my proposed empire being chopped down to pieces for the British Empire to take as their own. Or maybe we can avoid war all together? The choices are all there for the taking.
But while forming diplomatic alliances, conducting wars, and establishing trade routes amongst other countries may all seem rather overbearing at first, Europa Universalis IV does a great job of easing and simplifying the process of understanding the dynamics of the gameplay itself. As your proposed country develops, so does the complexity of what you have to do to maintain the stability and societal structure of your country, gradually introducing players to fundamental elements of the game that will improve their country as a whole. Introducing new laws, military reforms, and even governmental structures can all sway the outcome of your country, with the effects of such decisions not truly coming to fruition for years to come.
What this ultimately means is that players unaccustomed to the Europa Universalis series should not immediately dive into playing as a large country, let’s say France, and expect to last long. Although seemingly unforgiving to uninitiated players, once one slowly comprehends that Europa Universalis IV is not a title that you can simply jump into and enjoy, one can better respect the approach the game takes. Like the old adage states, “easy to learn, hard to master” comes to mind, with the player having to adjust to the structure of the game itself rather than the game adjusting to the player. It is still a relatively simple title to get into, but one can see that Paradox Interactive does not necessarily “dumb down” their games, instead offering a slow learning curve that those players willing to delve into will ultimately enjoy.
Europa Universalis IV is simply one of those titles that is well worth a purchase if you enjoy history and all its small – and large – intricacies. Grand strategy fanatics will absolutely adore what Europa Universalis IV has to offer, and it is quite simply one of the best grand strategy titles I have personally played in quite some time. While patches are always underway for a Paradox Interactive title, minor glitches throughout the game will not dissuade one from trying to better their ambitions as a ruler of a country. And speaking of ambitions, playing as the Aztecs and creating a strong military to fend off the Spanish Empire is next on my list, but that is going to require an immense amount of effort, hopefully amounting to me actually embarrassing the Spanish Empire rather than myself. The choices are aplenty in Europa Universalis IV, and that is one thing practically anyone can appreciate.