By Joseph Luster
Originally released in 2013, Paradox Development Studio’s Europa Universalis IV offers myriad ways to conquer the world. Whether you want to become a colonial superpower, strongarm rival nations through military prowess, or become dominant in the world of trade, it’s all up to your own strategic abilities. Either way you’ll have to make it to the top by aligning yourself with the right people and leveraging diplomacy to your advantage, which is part of what makes the Europa Universalis series so compelling in the world of grand strategy games.
Paradox has cooked up a handful of different expansions since IV’s initial release. There were four in 2014 alone, including Conquest of Paradise, Wealth of Nations, Res Publica, and Art of War, the latter of which focused on military mechanics and expanded a number of features. These were followed in 2015 with El Dorado, Common Sense, and The Cossacks. The common thread that binds each expansion is a change in mechanics and features, with each one building on what was established in the original Europa Universalis IV. Players were able to jump in with one at any time, adding to the accessibility of the whole package.
This trend continues with Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum, which as of this writing is still just listed as coming “soon.” It could very well be available by the time you read this, and if you’re a seasoned Europa Universalis veteran you likely already have it on your list. The hook in the latest expansion is the open sea, which naturally introduces the concept of sailors to the ever-expanding Europa Universalis world. While the general idea of how sailors play will be familiar to anyone who knows the game decently enough, their inclusion throws a few more interesting wrinkles into the formula.
Those who want to build or repair ships will need sailors, which sounds pretty much like the currently implemented manpower statistic. You can send your navy out on missions, but you won’t need to worry about managing every aspect of its outing while it’s on the open seas. Instead you’ll be able to instruct the ships on when to return home, adding a nice little strategic nugget that also minimizes your already heavy workload.
Some of the other big changes include the ability to rent your soldiers out as mercenaries, both supporting those who might otherwise not have a fighting chance and filling your coffers at the same time. You’ll also be able to create economic and military Trade League alliances, and share map discoveries with friends or ask them to do the same for you. This all comes along with new changes to subject nation management, diplomacy, and more.
Even if you’re not ready to leap on the Mare Nostrum ship as soon as it sets sail, its arrival coincides with a major patch that will be free to all who own Europa Universalis IV. It’s going to be interesting to see how the new focus on the seas plays into the many complex strategies involved in successfully pulling off world conquest. We should be getting our hands on it soon, so stay tuned for some impressions once we get some quality time in with the new expansion.
Publisher: Paradox Interactive