Europa Universalis IV is to have its first expansion by Christmas. First of many, one would expect - Crusader Kings II has had four, and its successor’s response has been every bit as glowing. No incremental improvement this, though. Conquest of Paradise offers nothing less than an experiential shake-up - the promise of true discovery in place of our usual historical omniscience.
In Conquest of Paradise, the atlas has yet to be drawn, and we’ll have to discover the Americas without already knowing where they are.
“Personally, a lot of the fun in playing Europa Universalis is the first X in the term ‘4x’, eXploration and sending explorers out to discover new continents,” explains project lead Thomas Johansson. “If you play a nation in Europe close to the sea, you will send out an explorer to find America or the route to India. However, when it comes to true exploration, as opposed to real world explorers, you as a player have an advantage - because you would know where you should go to find a new continent.
“Most Europa Universalis IV players, unlike most 15th century explorers, have a rough idea about where America is - so some of the excitement in exploration is lost.”
To counter that, players will now have the ability to totally randomise the new world - and be genuinely surprised to bump into a new continent during passage to India.
As you’ve probably already noticed, Conquest of Paradise marks a shift in focus from the Europe of the game’s title to the Atlantic. Players will now be able to take on the role of a Native American nation, tackling federation and migration mechanics and getting their heads around new national ideas, buildings and events. Or they can start again as a Colonial Nation, with the option of declaring war against their own sovereign and striking out on their own. Of course, that option works both ways.
“When you send lots of people across the sea in the age of sail, controlling them might not be the easiest thing in the world,” writes Johansson. “With this expansion, your colonies in the Americas will take on a new form; the larger ones will actually become free nations that serve as your colonies.
"They will have a limited independence and you can get money and trade power from them, but they will also live their own life, colonizing, fighting Native Americans and maybe even rebelling and striving for liberty from their motherland.”
Come to think of it, that narrative sounds familiar. Did somebody do that once before?
As ever, Europa Universalis’ expansion will be released digitally for Windows, Mac and Linux. Do you think you’ll play it?