By Joseph Luster & James Hart

Considering the fact that grand strategy game Hearts of Iron III came out back in 2009, the wait for the proper numbered sequel has been a long one. Of course, expansions have dotted the landscape since the release of III—including Semper Fi (2010), For the Motherland (2011), and Their Finest Hour (2012)—and now Hearts of Iron IV is beginning to rear its head on the horizon.

Currently set for the first quarter of 2015, Hearts of Iron IV promises better artificial intelligence and accessibility. PCGamer notes that the game will run on an advanced version of the Crusader Kings II engine, but the world map will depict not only trooop movements, but the logistical frameworks that control them. Sandbox-style gameplay will take the place of the more rigid style of forced linear progression found in previous entries, but fans can still look forward to a strategy game that strives for a most authentic World War II experience.

A New Kind of DLC Strategy

For multiplayer, INC Gamers reports that with Iron IV will come a new kind of DLC strategy: “In Hearts of Iron II the DLCs were separate versions of the game,” INC Gamers’ Tom Spillar explains. “This meant that you couldn’t play with someone who didn’t have the same DLC as you.

“In more recent Paradox games such as Europa Universalis IV and Crusader Kings II anyone can play with anyone else regardless of the DLC they each own. This is a win-win situation for both players, who will have a barrier of entry removed, and the developers, as only one game version has to be maintained.”

In addition to battles between historical figures carried out on land, sea, and air—complete with armies, vehicles, and freshly discovered weapons of mass destruction that are all accurate to the period—Hearts of Iron IV flexes the other parts of your strategy-minded brain with trade tactics and thoughtful diplomacy. Hopefully the extra time spent will be reflected in a final game that’s as enjoyably demanding as its predecessor.

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