How could a developer – even one as experienced in producing strategy games as Paradox Development Studio – possibly hope to add to the experience of the near-perfect Europa Universalis IV? A game that deep, that rich with content, couldn’t possibly offer even more through an expansion, surely? And, equally surely, any expansions that Paradox were to produce would be half-hearted attempt to throw some arbitrary new features in for a bit more cash.
Well. No. Conquest of Paradise is the real deal. If this was a stand-alone game it would be worth buying. After sinking dozens of hours into the original release of Europa Universalis IV, giving me a few dozen more it nothing to complain about. At all.
So the most obvious feature that Conquest of Paradise adds to the base Europa Universalis IV is the entirety of Native America, as it was before the Europeans came in and stuck various flags in the dirt. Instantly that gives you access a whole range of additional nations to play the game as, and these nations can offer players an enjoyably stiff challenge; after all, historically these nations didn’t fare so well against the Europeans.
Playing as a Native American nation also opens up a wholly-new skill tree tailored for the Native American nations, and maintaining the historical accuracy that the base game is so renowned for. From there it will be up to the players to figure out how to deal with the inevitable contact with the Europeans – will it be war, or peaceful trade? Conquest, or independence?
When you consider that games like Sengoku were released as stand alone games, and the Americas is essentially an expansion on an already massive game, it’s quickly obvious just how large this expansion is in terms of content.
Further extending the value of the expansion is the fact that the “New World” is randomised each time you play. Now, this might seem strange when you consider that authenticity has always been a goal of the team at Paradox with its strategy games, but it makes sense; playing as an European nation the sensation of discovery is oh-so-important when discovering a new continent, and if the results of the exploration were predictable for the player, then that sense of wonder would disappear, and ironically enough by sticking true to history the player would have a very inauthentic experience; they would not be “discovering” anything at all.
So the randomisation further extends gameplay, and the additional options around trade and military strategy add even more strategic options to the experience. Because this is an expansion and not a new game, those tiny complaints with the original Europa Universalis IV (mostly around an initially confusing trade system) remain, but those complaints don’t, in any way, reduce the sheer quality and attention to detail in this game.
Europa Universalis IV is the finest strategy game on the market. And it just got better.
– Matt S.
Find me on Twitter: @digitallydownld