by Joseph Luster

If you’ve played through Hearts of Iron IV at this point, you’ve likely gotten a feel for the ups and downs of the naval aspect of Paradox Interactive’s latest World War II-based grand strategy game. Those who found using navies to be a lacking piece of the larger puzzle now have a more fleshed out solution to turn to in the form of the latest expansion, Hearts of Iron IV: Man the Guns.

Man the Guns focuses on the naval innovations made in both the realms of technology and tactics, from the Pacific front of World War II to the Battle of the Atlantic. Players will find new command options, customization abilities, and even new alternate history paths for the major democracies of the war to consider. That customizability is a key selling point here. Players can either refit old models with new specifications or start from scratch and design their own ships. Taking advantage of new knowledge and burgeoning technological advances is a great way to gain a little extra advantage in the battles to come.

Man the Guns is, as one might expect, almost purely for those who wanted more out of their navies from the base game. All the new features add up to a ton of options when it comes to controlling and dispatching units across the map and prepping for future showdowns, but it’s not going to mean too much to those who didn’t find navies to be a compelling part of the whole in the first place. You either love every moment of it or find it to be one of the more laborious processes in the game. For anyone who falls into the former category, the ability to dive deeper into this aspect of World War II will be seen as a major boon.

Thankfully, this expansion didn’t just go all in on naval additions and leave it at that. There also are a bunch of additions to the base game, including the way fuel has been changed into a trackable commodity, as well as expanded focus trees for the United States, Britain, Mexico, and the Netherlands. Some of the updates are simply quality of life improvements, while others will have a more sizable impact on how you play and your odds of success in any given campaign. You can enjoy some of these changes by simply updating your game free of charge, so it might be worth seeing how much you enjoy the free features before deciding how much more of your time and money you feel like investing in war waged on the open seas.

Hearts of Iron IV: Man the Guns

Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Genre: Strategy
System: PC
Available: Now

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