By Joseph Luster

Paradox Development Studio is no stranger to grand strategy games; Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings are top-notch entries in the genre despite some of their lingering issues. Now it’s finally time to move on to the next major milestone, which is coming in the form of Imperator: Rome.

Imperator: Rome thrusts players into the tumultuous time that stretches from Alexander’s empire in the east to the very foundation of the Roman Empire. It’s up to you to forge said empire from the ground up, including tasks like population management, worship of the gods, and keeping an ever watchful eye out for the treachery that lurks around every corner. The population itself is full of people with various essential roles, from your average citizens to slaves, tribesmen, and freemen. Each population has its own unique religion and culture, and the empire’s foundation depends on their happiness and ability to fulfill their respective duties.

Characters won’t just be fodder for your armies, either. In addition to raising commanders that will guide your fleets, you will need various members of the populace to govern provinces and lead the growing nation. Establishing a successful trade economy is crucial, too, and you’ll have to decide how much you’re willing to invest in other key aspects of the kingdom’s infrastructure, such as roads, buildings, and defenses to protect citizens from barbarians.

Naturally, battle plays a major role in the proceedings, and Paradox is looking to showcase the different military traditions of the time. Romans, Celts, and other cultures have their own style when it comes to waging war, and each grants the bonus of unlocking additional units and abilities. As tends to be the case with grand strategy, it’s all about thinking a few steps ahead of your opponent so you can choose the appropriate approach and successfully counter their advances.

At the time of this writing there hasn’t been much in the way of actual footage, but Imperator: Rome presents a great opportunity for Paradox. Build upon what worked in previous games like Crusader Kings II—which, as hard as it is to believe, has already been around for about six years and has approximately one million pieces of DLC at this point, including 2018’s Holy Fury—and pay attention to the quality-of-life mods players have made over the years. With the right level of support, Imperator: Rome sounds like the kind of setting you could dip into for years to come.

Back to the issue this appears in