Hearts of Iron 4’s new Ethiopia focus tree is all about survival

The next update for Hearts of Iron IV will include an overdue Ethiopia rework that elevates the nation out of tutorial speedbump status

Hearts of Iron 4's reworked Ethiopia map, with provinces outlined with yellow borders

Ethiopia wasn’t one of the major players in World War II, but it’s a country just about every Hearts of Iron IV player has encountered – it’s primary role in the grand strategy game to date has been to serve as a tutorial punching bag for Italy, which can force a white peace capitulation in a matter of weeks. However, Ethiopia will be getting its own focus tree and other enhancements in Hearts of Iron IV’s upcoming By Blood Alone DLC, and the goals will be survival and modernisation.

In the latest Hearts of Iron IV dev diary, Paradox content designer wrongwraith explains some of the reasoning that underpins the Ethiopia rework. It’s a tricky task: the team wants to make Ethiopia a unique playthrough, but the nation starts in 1935 in the midst of a war that it historically lost.

The rework Paradox outlines in the latest update looks genuinely interesting. Ethiopia will have its own balance of power dynamics, similar to those found in Italy and Switzerland, between the centrally appointed officials of the Mekwanint on one side, and the traditional Mesafint nobility on the other.

The first order of business, of course, will be to survive the Italian invasion in the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935. There will be a couple of approaches to this, forming what will be the first big decision Ethiopia players will have to make: do you try to take on the invaders yourself, cementing Emperor Haile Selassie’s role as Ethiopia’s ‘King of Kings’, or do you take your case before the League of Nations?

Both paths include exciting opportunities, such as requesting overlordship of Jamaica from the British, or fighting to reclaim Ethiopia from Italy while in exile and fielding a patchwork of international volunteer divisions in occupied territory.

Speaking of territory, Ethiopia’s map is getting updated – it’ll feature more provinces and victory point locations to make warfare there more interesting than it’s been in the past. But beyond combat, you’ll also need to concern yourself with modernising Ethiopia and transforming it into an industrialised nation, ready and equipped to compete on the global stage.

The full dev diary has the details, as well as a selection of work-in-progress artwork that will accompany the update. By Blood Alone is due out later this year.