The Crusader Kings series is not fun for the faint-hearted. This is a very specific line of large-scale strategies that rewards cunning, creative and diligent gamers. Historically, F95zone Interactive launches one Crusader King game every eight years on. The first part of CK was released in 2004, the sequel followed in 2012, and the subject of our review will appear on the shelves of virtual stores on September 1, 2020. Let’s see if this strategy has managed to become a worthy continuation of the first two parts.
Despite the fact that the release of Crusader Kings 2 took place already eight years ago, the game is still supported, moreover, it has acquired several dozen DLCs and has become the standard of quality for global strategies – along with other series of the company: Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron . In other words, when you buy a game from Paradox , you can count on balanced patches and support even after a decade. Judging by how many resources the company has invested in the new game, it will receive just as much attention and, as a result, content.
I’ll start with the main thing : Crusader Kings 3 has become friendlier to newcomers and lowered the threshold for entering a task as difficult as creating a dynasty. In fact, we are playing a simulator of a medieval ruler who has to survive and procreate heirs in the difficult conditions of feudalism at the expense of cunning, ingenuity and a personal army. There are a lot of tools for this, and as you immerse yourself in the gameplay, you get the feeling that you yourself are becoming a participant in the story of the War of the Scarlet and White Rose – a real “game of thrones” with feudal clans. It’s just that not only conditional Yorks are fighting here with Lancaster, but hundreds of earls, dukes and kings of various kinds. In the local “war of roses”, virtually every landowner in power, starting with the status of burgomaster, takes part.
Interestingly, players should immediately switch the paradigm of perception of the game from the “city planner” to the “leader of the dynasty”, because Crusader Kings is not limited to one king . When the head of a dynasty dies, the heir to the throne takes his place, be he even a bastard or a cripple. At the same time, you can not give a damn about the living king, and switch to his son or even a vassal, playing on his behalf. And this makes the gameplay more original than in traditional grand strategy games with one indestructible faction leader.
The historical era is one – the Middle Ages in all its glory. However, unlike previous games, CK3 limits the starting dates for building its empire: we can start in 867 or 1066. For comparison, in the very first CK there were three start dates available, from 1066 to 1337, and in the second part of CK, with all the DLCs, there are eleven historically important periods, from the early Middle Ages in 769 to the late in 1337. The widest choice, which we, alas, are deprived of in the new “dynasty simulator”.
I would like to talk about this in a little more detail. Recently, on release, Paradox offers too “naked” games, and often this causes righteous indignation among the players. If you remember, the previous game from this studio, Imperator: Rome , was drowned in negative reviews due to a lack of content, an inconvenient interface and a train of technical problems. Certainly Crusader Kings 3 is poorer in its current state than CK2 after so many years and dozens of addons. But is it poorer than the basic version of the second part of “The Crusader Kings” in 2012? Of course not, because all the main features of CK2 are in place! Unless the progress in Europa Universalis is not allowed to be transferred …
The game offers six conditional campaigns, three of which start in 867, that is, in the so-called “Huniepop 2“. Three more focus on the High Middle Ages, the date of which the developers chose the historically rich year 1066. All this was in the previous games, they did not invent anything new. And the characters of the main campaigns are familiar to you – among the landlords there are such “hyped heroes” as Ivar the Beskostny, Louis II and even Harald the Severe. And for Russian gamers there is an opportunity to make Novgorod the great hands of Rurik Rurikovich.
It is most correct to describe the game with a phrase from its training, which, unlike Crusader Kings 2 , has become more understandable and detailed: “This is not a race for some kind of victory, but the deepest plot and many options for its development.” In fact, this is an interactive book that the player writes at the expense of his decisions, squeezing the maximum benefit from his capabilities – marriages of convenience, contract killings, intrigues, hostage manipulation, espionage, sending unwanted people into stone sacks, alliances with non-believers against more powerful relatives on the continent … There are almost all dastardly tricks and tricks that have to be resorted to first for survival, and then for the development and prosperity of the dynasty.
Visually, CK3 looks almost the same as the second part. The world map has expanded, the detail of provinces and lands has grown significantly, and in fact has become one of the most geographically detailed games from Paradox : verified, detailed, with a lot of details, with filters and options for displaying “contour maps”. And across all this beauty, gallant models of armies march back and forth. The developers have been using the Clausewitz 2 Engine in all projects since 2011 , but for CK3 they have prepared a pleasant surprise – the upgrade of Clausewitz 2 to the Jomini version , named after General Antoine-Henri Jomini. This engine was first used in Imperator: Rome, but there it was a “beta test”, while in Crusader Kings 3 it was fully implemented with all the bonus features.
Perhaps you are reading this text in order to find out in what details the devil is hidden? For the third part of the series, Paradox shoveled the personal qualities and character traits of all the characters, made an in-depth system for the development of their “king” in accordance with the chosen “lifestyle”, which is represented by five categories: diplomacy, intrigue, management, military affairs and scholarship. Developers changed sieges and the rules for the formation of armies, revised religiosity and made additional instruments of pressure on both subjects and enemies. And also much more, which is described in detail on the game page on Steam . All these functions, in fact, are not so important against the background of the feeling that the game familiar to gamers has been preserved, modified with a thousand little things. And due to this it seems as ifCK3 is an independent add-on to the second part of Crusader Kings, for which CK2 , in general, is not needed.