Paradox Interactive, developers of successful strategy titles such as Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV, have been very busy as of late. Starting in January they began teasing fans on their forums by dropping hints about two mysterious projects codenamed Armstrong and Nero.
On Jan. 23 at the 2014 Paradox Convention, the veil was lifted and the two upcoming games were revealed to be Hearts of Iron IV, a continuation of their World War 2 grand strategy series, and Runemaster, a new IP in a new direction for the studio. To add to the anticipation for the new releases, Paradox also announced Rajas of India, a new major DLC for Crusader Kings II making the huge addition of the Asian subcontinent with its attendant cultures, religions, and nations.
There is also Hearts of Iron IV, formerly known as Project Armstrong.
This grand strategy game is a revival of the great and terrible conflict of World War II. It was welcomed all the same. For those unfamiliar, the Hearts of Iron franchise allows players to take control of any of the world’s nation during a time period that roughly covers the buildup to, duration of and aftermath of the Second World War. Players manage every aspect of their nation; diplomacy, industry, research, espionage and of course military matters are all at the fingertips of the player. While the game’s scenarios are generally primed to follow history, the player’s intervention can lead to new possibilities for the conflict. Something as minor as a victory where there would have been a loss or as major as conspiring to install a fascist government in Canada and invade the US from the north. Details on the new game have been sparse so far, with fans speculating on potential features. One feature that has been revealed is a planning mode, new to the series. This mode allows players to draw their war plans directly on to the map; charting out troop movements, defensive lines and prospective attacks. The players units will then automatically follow these plans, which can be changed on the fly to react to new information such as unexpected resistance from a flank. The presence of the plans also gives spies an interesting use in attempting to steal enemy plans. Fans wait in anticipation for more feature reveals and the game’s eventual release, currently set for early 2015.
Runemaster, formerly Project Nero, came as a surprise to many. Paradox, mostly known for developing strategy titles, announced the game would be an RPG infused with elements of Norse mythology, touting tactical turn based combat and an ambitious plan for replayability. The claim that no two playthroughs will be the same is one often tossed around in game announcements, and all too often an expectation that the games fail to achieve. With Runemaster, Paradox is promising a large, completely procedurally generated world that is completely new with each new game. Similarly, the games quests boast procedural generation and emergent storytelling. The actions of the player will directly impact the quests, with their deeds and abilities being noted by the game. Brimming with ambition, Runemaster is set to release late 2014.
Finally, Rajas of India was another major announcement to come out of Paradox Convention 2014. The expansion is set to add a bevy of new features to accommodate the Indian addition. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism join Catholicism, Islam and the pagans in the religion department, each faith facilitating different styles of play; with Hindus geared towards conquering, Buddhists focused on research and seeking knowledge, and the Jains fostering a harmonious and peaceful kingdom. With India coming in the world map gets a major expansion, adding more provinces to Africa and central Asia as well as opening up the formerly inaccessible Red Sea to naval travel.
The most important addition may be the inclusion of war elephants. Because who doesn’t want to take over Medieval Europe with war elephants?