With Europa Universalis IV, Paradox has once again affirmed its status as a colossus of the grand strategy playing field, dominating the genre with their monumental offerings. There are few games that marry the rich, robust knowledge of European history so fully with the imperialistic strategy of kings and emperors–but Paradox has always found a way to one-up their previous entries with even more expansive content, and this is underlined in their newest offering.

Europa Universalis IV Europa Universalis IV Review

Developer: Paradox Development Studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: Aug. 13, 2013
Platform: PC
Genre: Grand Strategy
MSRP: $49.99

I came, I saw, I conquered

With Europa Universalis IV, Paradox has once again affirmed its status as a colossus of the grand strategy playing field, dominating the genre with their monumental offerings. There are few games that marry the rich, robust knowledge of European history so fully with the imperialistic strategy of kings and emperors–but Paradox has always found a way to one-up their previous entries with even more expansive content, and this is underlined in their newest offering.

At it’s heart, grand strategy is a vast, complex webwork of machinations: from the cunning political intrigue of alliances to the unyielding sabre of war that cuts a swath through whole nations, grand strategy has a certain allure that appeals to the inner monarch in all of us.

EU4 ss10 Europa Universalis IV Review

From the far East to the West, EU4 outlines all of Europe with hundreds of sovereign nations and countries to interact with.

Grand strategy has a way of making RTS games feel paltry, and that’s largely due to the sheer volume of content offered in games of the genre. This sentiment is felt quite clearly in Europa Universalis IV, who’s historical offering alone accounts for over four hundred years of European politics, warfare, imperialistic expansion and religious conversion from 1444 to 1821.

This era includes a dazzling myriad of interesting timeframes, encompassing some of the most pivotal points in European history, starting with the first spark of the Age of Exploration and ending with the Napoleonic Wars. Throughout these periods, the entire world grows and changes depending on key decisions that players make throughout the course of their campaign, wherein they can radically alter the course of history and create unique alliances, nations, and other interesting possibilities.

The other half of the near-overwhelming level of expansiveness owes to the game’s strategy, which is stretched across a wide range of menus, interfaces and overlays that control everything from overseas trade to the state of your armies and everything in between. In this game the world is but a stage, and you are but one of the major players who are swept along on the uncompromising tide of time–but that doesn’t mean you can’t bend whole empires and nations to your will and alter the flow of history itself.

EU4 screen 1 Europa Universalis IV Review

Choose your starting country from a huge offering of nations throughout some of the most interesting periods in European history.

At the start of the game, players have the opportunity to select a nation out of the hundreds of possibilities. An overhead world map is offered, showcasing a patchwork of colors and names, with multitudes of possibilities for each playthrough. One of the most entertaining notions about this epic simulation is that the world is constantly changing, and no two campaigns will be alike: the experiences will always be divergent and unique, with unexplored tangents that can run askew to the tide of actual history and send ripples through the fabric of time itself.

While EU4 contains within it an almost overwhelming collection of numbers and values–from the state of England’s economy during the Hundred Years War to the internal mechanisms of Castille’s military presence–with even more facts and overlays to maintain, the game does a nice job in preparing players for long haul strategies. There are a variety of helpful interfaces that suggest different objectives, such as the Missions pane, which features a list of miscellaneous national quests to partake in.

Paradox’s new entry in the flagship series encompasses such a grand scale of content that it could be played for months on end, and gamers would still find new and surprising tactics to utilize. It’s an enormous title, one that encompasses the natural flow of history and military expansion in such a way that it’s easy to get lost within its rich gameplay. There are a variety of improvements and changes, many of which streamline the experience for new players, making it an excellent entry point for beginners to learn the ropes of grand strategy.