Europa Universalis III

By Scott Parrino 15 Sep 2006 0

Europa Universalis 3

Recently The Wargamer was invited to Paradox Interactive?s New York office to meet the lead designer and creator of the Europa Universalis franchise, Johan Andersson, and to take a look at how Europa Universalis III is coming along. 

Work on Europa Universalis III started almost two years ago in November 2004. Having spent a fair amount of time working on Hearts of Iron, Johan wanted to look back to his roots for his next big project. To begin with, Johan wanted to try to change the scope of this latest game. He felt that it should begin on May 30 1453, the day Constantinople fell, and it should be playable through about 1789. This means it will cover more time than the original Europa Universalis, but less time than Europa Universalis II. The idea behind the change in scope was to give all the major European powers good starting points. 

Although a number of changes have been made to the game, much of it will look familiar to fans. There are still the four core concepts: warfare, diplomacy, exploration, and trade. What is different is that the database has been updated to reflect events for every territory in the game?on a daily basis! There will be no pre-planned scenarios. Instead players can select any country and start a game at any given day. Johan tells us that, in all, over 10 books? worth of data have been put into the Europa Universalis III database. The game will have bookmarks where players can quickly find a few significant dates in history for starting points. In addition, upon selecting a time, the game will offer up a few suggestions of countries which may be of interest to players during that time. For instance if a player selects the year 1776, the game will suggest the U.S., England, and France as interesting countries to play. The events database will also be moddable. 

Players can also expect alerts to be triggered when significant events happen, but the team has designed these to be more subtle than in previous games. Other improvements to the UI include enhanced tooltips and a streamlined interface. 

A great deal of attention has gone into researching the details of the game, and military doctrine has been extensively researched for each territory. Players can expect to find 60 to 70 different types of European military units; many more are available for territories outside of Europe. There are eight major architectural styles for the game, representing the major cultures of the period. 

Once again, a country?s tradition will offer it military strengths in one area or another. Some countries will enjoy significant naval strength, while others will enjoy powerful armies. One new concept to the game is that of prestige, which replaces the old point system. A country may enjoy a great deal of prestige, but a player may have a particularly ?bad boy? reputation which exists side by side with his high prestige ? in short a country may be both respected and feared in the game. Terrain will now provide combat modifiers. Players will be able to hire historical personalities to lend bonuses to different areas of the game. 

Also improved are some military items such as the regiments. Regiments consist of up to 1,000 troops. Resting regiments will naturally recruit either 5% or 10% of their strength (this is still being playtested), so it could take about half a year for a regiment to come back to full strength if it was nearly destroyed. Players won?t have to micromanage replacements; recruiting will take place automatically. Obviously, players will want to protect their troops to a large degree and not allow them to be nearly annihilated in battle. Conquering a new territory will now draw recruits of the territory?s type. So, if a Spanish player begins recruiting in an Aztec province, it will draw Aztec-style replacements ? not conquistadors. Thus, owning a large colony may have its benefits, but raising troops from it will not be one of them. Players will also be able to research specific tactics, which will create a kind of tech tree for specialized historical unit development. Mercenaries will not contribute or benefit from historical tradition and will merely lend their weight of numbers toward a battle. 

Overall, the game is developing nicely. Fans of the series should be pleased with the refinements made. Even though the game does have several months of development time left, I cannot wait to play it. This is my top pick among the upcoming crop of historical strategy games.

About the Author

Jim Zabek is the Executive Editor for The Wargamer where he manages the content flow and publication dates for reviews and articles on the site. He has been a dedicated gamer since he was 10 years old. Beginning with Avalon Hill's Panzer Blitz and Starship Troopers, he quickly expanded his gaming scope to more complex games such as Dungeons & Dragons and Star Fleet Battles. He played early computer games on both Mac and PC platforms, though these days it's basically XP with the occasional boardgame thrown in to shake the cobwebs loose. Jim reads eclectically and occasionally even writes about some of the things he's reading or playing for The Wargamer. He is presently reading the following books: Tournament of Shadows by Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac and Code of the Samurai translated by Thomas Cleary.

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