Tobold's Blog
Sunday, March 17, 2024
Influenced by Paradox

The typical games of Paradox Interactive are not for everybody. They are typically (grand) strategy games, and usually rather deep, which makes them not easily accessible for the casual gamer. There are probably a lot of people out there who tried one of these games, but ended up scratching their head, not having fun, and ultimately giving up on it. There are some which are a bit more accessible, like Age of Wonders 4, and some which are a bit less so, like Europa Universalis 4 (which therefore I haven't played yet). But I wouldn't be surprised, nor would I judge anyone, if a number of my readers just weren't interested in these games.

Whatever one thinks of their games, one has to admit that Paradox Interactive is good at modern influencer marketing. That probably shouldn't come as a surprise, because niche games are best marketed directly to a niche audience, while mass media advertising would work a lot less well. As I am following on Twitch a number of streamers that play exactly this sort of game, I was inundated this weekend with content about Millennia. This weekend content creators were allowed to play the game until the 6th age, and next weekend they'll be allowed to play until the end, with the game then releasing on the 26th.

Now I played the Millennia demo at the Steam Next Fest in February, and came away with mixed feelings. It took me some time to overcome my dislike of the ugly graphics and user interface, but the game obviously had a lot of depth and potential. On the surface Millennia is "Civ-like", but there is a complex wealth of resource-management and city-building game systems in addition to the usual fare of the genre. The demo wasn't great in as far as it was limited to 60 turns, which didn't get you really far into the deeper game elements. But I played it several times and got quite fascinated by it in the end. The game definitely has flaws, but it also has the potential for many hours of fun.

So after seeing more of the game beyond turn 60 this weekend on Twitch, I cracked and pre-ordered the game, even going for the $60 premium edition, which includes an expansion pass. Between having played the demo and seen the streams I felt that I knew enough about the game to be certain that I do want to play this on release.

What helped was my recent game of Victoria 3, which made me realize that even if a grand strategy game isn't terribly well balanced, it can be fun as a toy, to play around with all the different game systems and see what works and what doesn't. As long as I play single-player, I can just decide to *not* play the unbalanced and overpowered choice, I am not bound by the "meta game". For Millennia the toy approach might work well, choosing to play against an AI not set to a very high level: All AI in all 4X games cheats at high level, and in Millennia that results in the AI being faster than you in unlocking ages, which negates one of the Unique Selling Propositions of the game.

The main problem with being influenced to pre-order 10 days before release, is that I now need to wait for the game to actually release. I'll have to play something else in the meantime.

I, for one, am interested in these types of games. I loved AoW3, and I'm waiting for a good sale to buy AoW4. I have the Millenia demo installed, but haven't gotten around to it. I bought & played AoW: Planetfall, but for some reason that one didn't stick with me, I quit soon after I learned it well enough. I've avoided the complex dynasty stuff like EU so far, the reviews always scare me away.
Have you looked at Stolen Realm as a possible gap filler game? Turn-based/RPG/Strategy, has a fun rogue-like option.
@Jason: Thank you for the recommendation. I decided to follow your advice and picked up Stolen Realm today.
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