REVIEW: Hearts of Iron IV: Battle for the Bosporus

Nov
09

REVIEW: Hearts of Iron IV: Battle for the Bosporus

A nice little content update for Hearts of Iron IV, Battle for the Bosporus is essentially three exciting new trees for those who enjoy playing in the minor leagues.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player, Multi-player
Genre: Strategy, Simulation
Developer: Paradox Development Studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release date: 15 October, 2020

Overview

I still haven’t played anywhere near as much Hearts of Iron IV as I would like as I’m currently clocking in at around fifty-three hours. In Paradox years, I think that converts into roughly seventeen minutes and twenty-four seconds. That said, I’ve had a blast with it every time I’ve played, though I’ve yet to see a game through from start to finish as I always seem to get distracted by something shiny several years in. When I get back, I start a new game up. So far I’ve played as the United States (represent) as my first game, a France that I pulled down the fascist route, and finally, a German Reich that conquered most of Europe, the Soviet Union, and a chunk of Asia. As I’m typing this up, I’m realizing that I really need to get back to that one.

After Battle for Bosporus’ release, I can now say that I’ve also spent some time with Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. Each of these nations has been updated with its own unique and beefy national focus tree that dives into a variety of paths that will flavor your time with them. As is often the case, these stretch from a more historical approach of the nation’s behavior to impressively bizarre alternate histories, as well as following the general template of trees based on military improvement, economic improvement, and splitting ideologies.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria has a rough start with both their military and economy weakened by some heavy national spirits that really ruin your day. To add to this, the nation is split between several factions (Zveno, Broad Socialists, Agrarian Society, and National Social Movement) that will keep you on your toes as you attempt to avoid stepping on too many toes. You’ll be able to rein these in with some work though and either integrate them into the government or root them out and destroy them entirely.

Your starting position isn’t terrible if you’ve got the heart of an aggressor, Greece and Yugoslavia are begging to be conquered, though a strong Romania to the north is a threat particularly if they’re watching out for the little guys in the region. Your national focus tree can lead to you becoming a serious heavy-hitter with its bushels of free factories and claims that are handed to you for regions nearby. And hey, you can decide whether you want to befriend the IMRO (International Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) for a little extra punch; it will aid in your annexation of territory but the filthy peace mongers won’t support you buddying up with them.

A good start for the Socialist Republic of Bulgaria. Thanks, Daddy Bear.

Greece

Greece isn’t exactly a powerhouse in 1936 either. King George II is a poor leader who slaps some unfortunate debuffs on the Greeks and their chances of becoming a superpower. Factor in penalties from their debt and their agrarian society that significantly reduces their industrial capabilities, and you’ve got a slow-burning nation that can’t really keep up with its neighbors without some serious investment and solid leadership.

You’ll have options on how to reshape this disaster into something impressive though. If you can overcome the initial flaws of Greece, you’ll be able to side with the Commies for aid, compromise with the monarchists on a new form, or embrace the monarchy altogether. Such actions, in the right hands, can lead to reviving that Spartan Warrior Spirit that we’ve all heard so much about, turning the Greeks into a military powerhouse capable of restoring the long-dead Byzantine Empire. Yes, you heard that right, and yes, you find it hard to resist an offer like that.

Hitler never saw it coming.

Turkey

Turkey is yet another nation beset my struggling factions that prevent it from embracing its full potential. Here, we’re hit with massive war support and stability issues by these factions that make it a serious pain to move forward at the same pace as the world as it changes around you. Your best officers are also members of one of these factions and will bolt the moment you decide that theirs isn’t the direction that you’re looking toward.

On the other hand, Turkey receives very impressive bonuses when it comes to their leadership. Its starting leader, Mustafa Kemal grants a huge amount of stability while reducing the cost of changing laws and military leader recruitment. Furthermore, a few areas on the tree offer additional bonuses to leader capabilities. Toss in some free territory claims on nearby areas and your Turkey can be one that makes an incredible impression during World War II instead of staying as still and quiet as possible until it’s already been decided.

This is some Grade-A turkey just in time for Thanksgiving.

Verdict

Battle for the Bosporus is a great DLC for those looking for more of what they already enjoy in Hearts of Iron IV. However, it doesn’t fundamentally change the game and its effects are only directly felt by Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. If you’re not planning on playing any of these nations any time soon, I would skip out on this DLC until you have a change of heart. For those who are looking for another excuse to dive into the game, this is a worthy one as long as you remember that it isn’t a sweeping expansion.

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