The Europa Universalis IV experience is further expanded with a new batch of exciting content, but it trips all over itself with its first few steps.
Type: Single-player, Multi-player
Genre: Strategy, Simulation
Developer: Paradox Tinto
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release date: 27 April, 2021
I’ve lately found myself devoting a significant number of hours to a few favorite titles without exploring as many new gaming horizons as I’m used to, at least as far as entirely new releases are concerned. Total War: Warhammer II has nearly consumed my life for the last couple of months and when I haven’t been overrunning the filthy Skaven with a Bretonnian knight charge, I’ve been grinding away in Saga Frontier Remastered and purging the galaxy in Stellaris. That said, I never uninstall Europa Universalis IV as she’s always calling to me from the shadows and the release of Leviathan is exactly the catalyst that I needed to kick off the French conquest that I’ve been planning on for a while. It was an excellent experience… until it wasn’t.
Machiavelli Would Be Proud
Regardless of which direction you take your nation in, Europa Universalis requires that you manage your diplomatic relations efficiently or you invite disaster. We’ve already had one of the most robust diplomatic systems around for a while, but Leviathan takes it a step further by adding in the ability for diplomats to curry favors from other nations. While we’ve been gaining (and cashing in) our favors for some time now, currying favors opens new doors as it lets you build them up in a similar fashion to how we were already improving relations. These favors are great for shaping the political landscape as you see fit and getting your hands on some extra resources when needed. Few things hit the spot quite the same as when you spend your favors to shatter an alliance so that you can take advantage of a newly vulnerable foe.
Speaking of outmaneuvering your enemies, we’ve finally been given a particularly efficient looting mechanic to pour salt on the wounds of your defeated foes. The new pillage war goal allows you to ship some of the development from an occupied enemy capital back to your own. Finally I can truly feel like the legendary Napoleon Bonaparte as I ship the wealth and culture of annexed nations home. Vive la France!
Turning an Eye Inward
Don’t worry though, Leviathan offers more than just manipulating and robbing your enemies to Europa Universalis IV. Improved capabilities for specializing your colonies, concentrating your development, and managing regency councils in a way that’s favorable to you all let you further grow your nation as you see fit.
Specialized colonies will work toward a general goal that you set for them, whether it’s to provide assistance in your military conquests with men and guns, to establish a bustling trade hub, or simply to govern themselves to be the most efficient nation that they can be. This is a nice touch that expands your ability to hone your colonial empire and makes a big difference in the resulting system that your colonies end up growing into.
If new ways to manage your overseas expansion gets your strategy rocks off, just wait until you hear about the exciting new ways that you can drain their wealth! Just like a true imperialist, you can concentrate the development of your empire by leeching it from your vassals and colonies and delivering it to your capital. It’s more fun to rip it away from your rivals, but hey, as long as it’s headed to the motherland, it’s going in the right direction. Right?
Oh Paradox, Never Change
Any devoted Paradon fanatic like myself know that you never play one of their new releases (game or DLC) during the first few weeks after their launch as they tend to be a disaster. Leviathan may have taken the Paradox bug heavyweight title as it kicked in the door and laid out a legacy that’s unmarred by the flawed releases in Paradox history (well, except maybe other than that time that Stellaris’ new update released, fundamentally changing how worlds were managed and the AI had no idea how to use it… but that’s a tale for another time). One of the primary focuses of Leviathan was an improvement to natives and their mechanics and these arrived in perhaps an even worse than they were pre-DLC. Several new mission trees were implemented, while several other unique additions seemed to be overwritten by generic regional ones. Some nations seemed to have been forgotten entirely, fitting into the reworked theme for natives while receiving nothing new to improve their gameplay. All in all, these systems are exciting and promising once they’re up and running, but at the current time they’re not even half-baked; they’re still in the freezer.
Leviathan brings some excellent additions to Europa Universalis IV that provide new methods for overcoming the challenges that your nation will face. My French run was an absolute blast where I successfully managed to reclaim the lands of France and annexed a large portion of surrounding Europe, including a large chunk of Spain and Ireland. Playing as a mainstream powerhouse of a nation had allowed me to bypass much of the exciting but flawed content that plagued the release, but it didn’t save me from the game-breaking save glitch that caused my game to be entirely broken just past the middle of the 16th century. I’ll be waiting to give that another shot once we’ve passed the Paradox danger zone month or two.
Dabbling with the natives didn’t offer the same level of relative polish. There’s a portion of content that’s clearly missing the depth that the developers were going for that’s mostly a broken spoiler for what we’re likely going to have cleaned up and made enjoyable for us in the future. If you’re looking to pick this DLC up for the native features, I’d give it a hard pass for a bit until it’s in working order. If you’re here for the classic EU4 experience, I’d still wait until we’re absolutely certain that the bug that’s killing saved games and ruining ironman runs has been squashed. Fortunately, even in the time that it’s taken to get this article from the notepad to the computer screen we’ve seen Paradox release two patches that are working toward getting us the product that we paid for.