Hearts of Iron 4's 1.9 'Husky' patch is pretty decent, but not the star of the show

By Joe Robinson 10 Mar 2020 0

Hearts of Iron 4 has now been out for nearly 4 years, and has just released its 5th major expansion, La Résistance. The game has changed significantly over its lifetime, as Paradox games are wont to do as all major expansions these days also bring free updates for the game as a whole. La Résistance was no exception to this rule, launching alongside the 1.9 'Husky' update.

I’ve already shared my thoughts on La Résistance, with its new focus trees, spies, and armored cars, but how good was the free patch for those of us who don’t want to buy the DLC?

The Resistance (TRANSLATION: La Résistance)

So, first things first: La Résistance adds a lot of cool stuff you will be missing out on if you don’t pick it up, the same as all the other HOI4 DLCs thus far. That being said, Husky is responsible for the foundations La Résistance built its house upon, so there is a fair amount of new and revamped features you can get from just 1.9 Husky itself.

For starters, the resistance system has been reworked. No longer do you need to build divisions made up of single cavalry battalions, all armed with billy clubs, ready to enforce the justice of your new regime. All resistance and occupation matters now occur off-map, on a handy-dandy new screen where you get to assign division templates to problem areas. The choice of divisions matters because they can have varying effects on the local resistance forces. For example, cavalry battalions are well-suited to counter-insurgency operations, and they provide a bonus to policing an area, meaning you need less of them. Meanwhile, if you are hurting on manpower, you can deploy armored units to police an area instead, as partisans can do less damage to a division with higher hardness.

hearts of iron 4 1.9 husky patch occupation

You can also decide how you will treat the local populace overall, whether you want to be ruthless or have plenty of ruth. There are several options of severity to choose from. The benefits of having an iron grasp on a territory are lowering the resistance of the state and allowing you to gain more resources from the area, but generally, the damage the resistance does to you will be more over time. The other end of the spectrum has you appointing civilian officials to oversee the occupation of the territory. Resistance will be more frequent, but less deadly, and overtime, the populace will be more willing to comply with your government. In short, brutal crackdowns benefit more in the short-term, while a gentler hand is more beneficial in the long run. There are 9 various levels of occupation law to choose from to suit your needs, so read the situation before deciding. Or, if you’re a softy like me, just let the civilians do it.

The Birth of Recon (Translation: Reconnaissance)

In addition to the new garrison policies are new support companies for divisions. Before 1.9, we used a single default company, but now we can choose from cavalry, motorized, armored cars (if you have La Résistance), and light tanks. Cavalry companies are similar to the old standard recon company, but with the key difference that they are slower than vehicles, so they can limit the max speed of an armored division. Moving up in technology, we have the mechanized recon company, which offers a bit more defense and can keep up with mobile divisions, unlike the cavalry company.

hearts of iron 4 1.9 husky recon company

The armored car company (again, only if you have La Résistance) offers a bit of hardness to the division, making it a tougher nut for enemy forces to crack, and also adds some piercing damage to boot. And lastly, we have the armored recon company, made up of light tanks. These recon companies, if you can afford to make the tanks, are an excellent supplement to mobile divisions, adding the firepower and hardness of tanks in a slot that doesn’t increase the combat width of the division.

All the Others (Translation: Tout Les Autres)

Husky brings several other changes to the game, many of them not quite as flashy as the other two mentioned above, but are certainly worth noting. For those that enjoy a chaotic starting world, new game start rules are available that further decolonize the world. Spain can be split into its medieval constituent parts, and the Oceanic states can be released as well, including Tahiti, the Mariana Federation, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Solomon Islands, Samoa, and Hawai’i. There is also a fun new game start rule where you can play as Polynesia, a monarchy made up of those aforementioned Oceanic states.

The AI also seems sharper than before, though it is a hard thing to measure. Several times while playing these past few weeks I’ve seen the AI pull off some frankly brilliant naval invasions and exploit gaps in lines surprisingly well. Combat AI is shaping up, though it still has room to improve. That being said, AI with the chops of a Gary Grigsby’s War in the East player would beat the hell out of most of us, so maybe I should be careful what I wish for. Much of the changelog for AI notes improvements in the AI making more rational focus and diplomatic choices, so the AI hasn’t just been working on its war planning.

hearts of iron 4 1.9 husky world

On top of that, there are new quality of life improvements on focus trees. Gone are the sprawling, hard to parse movement trees of the past… well not really. They are still labyrinthine, but now we have two tools in our pocket to deal with them. The first is the fact that you can now zoom in and out on trees, which makes traversing some of the bigger ones (looking at you, Spain) much easier. The other tool is a filtering system that makes finding specific foci much easier. It’s very handy for playing an unfamiliar state, as you can quickly find the correct foci to pick to play as a democrat/fascist/communist.

To DLC or not to DLC (Translation: I don't know what this is in French)

As you’re now aware, Husky brings a fair amount of overall improvements and a few larger changes that affect many different aspects of the game. So what does the DLC have that Husky doesn’t? For starters, there’s the espionage system, which allows you to learn more about your neighbors with spies, and also allows you to commit acts of skulduggery with those same spies. Generating general Intel, stealing blueprints, sabotaging facilities, and even misdirecting enemies with confusing mislaid plans (“Who’s on first, Hans?”) are all options for your overseas operators. The recon companies mentioned earlier, by the way, also generate Intel on your enemies through combat, offering you a more accurate look at their overall capabilities.

hearts of iron 4 1.9 husky intel

Second, there’s the Spanish Civil War, which has quite a few unique mechanics centered around the complexities surrounding the context of the war, as well as mechanics representing the difficulty of fighting the war itself. I wrote about it in further depth in the La Résistance review, but it adds color to a previously (and currently, if you don’t have the DLC) bland early-game hotspot.

Lastly, there are the new focus trees for Portugal, Spain, and France. All three have plenty of interesting options to choose from in terms of direction, and can easily come into conflict with each other, or themselves. These are, in my opinion, some of the best selling points for any HOI4 DLC, as the vanilla focus trees in HOI4 make communion wafers seem full of flavor in comparison.

Patch 1.9 Husky is a substantial update, following the equally, if not more so, substantial update that released with the last DLC, Man the GunsBut this time around HOI4 has put some really fun stuff into their new DLC. While you can have a pretty good time with the new features Husky gifted us, La Résistance is where the real party is.

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