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Europa Universalis 4 turns ten: why it is one of the best strategy games in history

Date: May 19, 2024 Time: 13:47:05

On August 13, 2023, Europa Universalis 4 turned ten years old. This is a milestone for the Swedish publisher Paradox: during this period, the company supports the game with new additions, constantly expanding the game with new mechanics and other content.

We can say that it was “Europe 4” that determined the development strategy of Paradox for many years; this is also evidenced by excellent sales – the game was the first to enter the list of “infinitely updated games”, which includes such hits as Cities Skylines, Hearts of Iron 4, Stellaris and Crusader Kings 3.

Chart of the most profitable Paradox games – the higher, the more successful the project

Photo: Paradox

It is difficult to overestimate the importance: after ten years, Europa Universalis 4 has become, if not the best, then one of the best and deepest strategies ever.

The video is available on the Paradox Grand Strategy YouTube channel. The rights of the video belong to Paradox.

What is Europa Universalis 4 about?

Europe 4 is a real-time strategy game set between 1444 and 1821. The player has access to absolutely the entire Earth map of that time: it can be played for any country, which can only be seen on the map (or even create your own).

In ten years, the followers of Paradox have made huge differences between the states, so the gameplay for them is very different. For example, tribal horde mechanics are forced to attack neighbors and plunder their territories, and Heaven’s Mandate for Ming (future China) is to make neighbors tributaries instead of annexation.

The number of playable countries is simply staggering.

Photo: Paradox

Unlike many other strategies, Europe 4 is dedicated to everything at once. During the 377 years provided, the player is free to literally do whatever they please.

Do you want to colonize? Choose Spain, Portugal or England and go to the New World. Do you want to conquer the whole world? Start a game as the Ottoman Empire, Muscovy, Austria or France and capture everyone around you. Do you want to peacefully develop your state, focusing on diplomacy and trade? Start like any European country and live in harmony with the world around you.

In terms of gameplay, Europa Universalis 4 is similar to other Paradox strategy games. All the action takes place exclusively on a large world map – from there the player controls the economy, domestic and foreign policy, colonization and other elements of his state. There are no epic battles in the spirit of Total War, but it gets completely different.

Even the basic elements of the game are made in such a way that the player thinks twice about how to act in a given situation. For example, by capturing a large part of enemy territory, all nearby states can call the player a tyrant and take up arms against him. And the occupied lands must first be nationalized, otherwise the local population will constantly revolt against the new ruler.

“Europe 4” belongs to those games that can be explored endlessly. It is packed with so many mechanics, subtleties, events and nuances that even the biggest fans who have played thousands of hours do not know all the features of the project.

Has it held up for ten years?

Since the release of Europa 4, the developers have released 20 major additions to the game. Each of them expands and deepens various aspects of the project, and recently the authors have focused not so much on new mechanics as on improving the gaming experience for a whole set of countries.

So Lions of the North added new quest chains for the Baltic Sea countries, Origins added new quests and events for African countries, and the recent Domination almost completely redesigned the game for the Ottoman Empire, affecting Russia, France, Ming and Japan along the way.

Interestingly, along with the release of the expansion, the authors release free patches for the game, which also update the usual mechanics. Yes, Europe 4 with and without expansions are essentially two different games. But even a “naked” game without extensions has become much better and more interesting than the version released in 2013.

The video is available on The Red Hawk YouTube channel. The rights of the video belong to Paradox.

Huge expansions and a huge fan base have allowed Paradox to support the game for so many years. Furthermore, in 2020 the company opened a new Paradox Tinto studio in Barcelona, ​​dealing exclusively with plugins for EU4.

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What is the secret of Europa Universalis 4?

As we have said before, the essence of EU4 is incredible diversity. Fans of Paradox games have long jokingly called the studio’s projects “interactive contour maps”, where the user is engaged solely in “painting” territories in his own color.

And there is some truth in this. Most of the mechanics of “Europe 4” in one way or another dispose to the seizure of foreign territories: to wars and colonization. However, the random events, AI bots, and other elements are designed to be interesting and difficult to play for (almost) any nation.

Even two absolutely identical matches for Muscovy can develop differently. In one game, the country will easily capture Novgorod and turn into a powerful Russia, and in another, it will have to fight Kazan, the Great Horde and Denmark at the same time, which will lead to the collapse and domination of other countries.

The Ottomans are one of the strongest states of “Europe 4”

Photo: Paradox

“Europe 4” inherited the famous rule of “one more move and sleep”, taking into account its features. The game constantly puts mini-tasks in front of you that make you sit at the computer until late at night. Complete a mission, improve technology, build a building, raise an army, capture territory, form an alliance – there are many such tasks in the game.

In addition, EU4 is packed with unique events and facts to keep in mind at all times. At one time, everything seems to be fine: a worthy ruler is on the throne, the economy is growing, and the territory of the state is increasing. Suddenly, a whole coalition gathers around you, the king dies, stability falls, and now you have to get out of an unenviable position with the least number of victims.

Europa Universalis 4 issues and the future of the series

Despite long-term support, “Europe 4” is still slowly becoming stale. The old version of the engine does not support the technologies of modern processors, so in the later stages the game can slow down and work worse even on the most powerful PCs.

Also, learning in the game doesn’t really explain much: you have to figure it all out yourself. Such a challenging and complex game would benefit from the accessible multi-level hints of recent Paradox games like Victory 3.

Multi-level hints in Victoria 3

Photo: Paradox

The situation with Europa Universalis 4 is similar to Crusader Kings 2. “Crusaders 2” at one time became an incredible success for Paradox, after which the developers released the third part, almost in no way inferior to its predecessor with a lots of DLC.

A similar move is suggested with Europe 4: the developers must rebuild the formula and create a fifth part, using all the experience the team has gained over the last ten years. It could be his Magnum Opus, the greatest piece in Paradox history. Meanwhile, the authors are in no rush with announcements; perhaps right now, in the bowels of the studio, work on the sequel is already in full swing.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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