Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, May 14, 2024
Paradox Publisher Week

There is a sale of Paradox Interactive games on Steam. And I ended up buying the Crusader Kings 3 starter edition, plus one mini-DLC. The starter edition contains among others the Tours and Tournaments DLC, which is widely considered as the best DLC of the game. And that gets me to the subject of changing attitudes towards Paradox: While the fans these days love Paradox a lot less than they used to, my personal attitude towards their games has improved.

The not totally undeserved general opinion of Paradox these days is that they publish unfinished games and then sell you the parts that would make the game complete as overpriced DLCs. If you would buy Crusader Kings 3 outside of a sale with all DLCs (including announced ones), you'd pay $200. And some of these DLCs, for example the latest Legends of the Dead, have user ratings from mostly negative to overwhelmingly negative. Some of those Steam reviews basically read "I paid $20 to make my game worse".

I played Crusader Kings 3 when it was first released, and thus without DLCs, back in 2020. I had access to it via Game Pass, and some friends played it too, so we did some multiplayer. I could still play it there, but without any DLCs, and I don't know when the game will be leaving Game Pass. Buying the starter edition on Steam with the sale for $40 gives me both permanent access, and some much needed DLCs to flesh out the basic game. Between the patches and the DLCs, I think that Crusader Kings 3 is a better game now. But more importantly, I am looking at Paradox games differently now.

With a history of playing 4X and other strategy games, I had previously approached these Paradox games as strategy games. And as I was still working long hours in a day job back then, I needed games that provided fast fun. In hindsight, none of the core Paradox games (Victoria, Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis) are really suited for that. While Age of Wonders 4, of which I have nearly 400 hours played, was a better fit for me, it was developed by Triumph Studios, and is only published by Paradox. After my retirement my approach to Paradox games changed. I now see them more as a sort of role-playing or life simulation game, except that you play as a country or dynasty.

Thus I am planning to play CK3 by choosing some insignificant county with a count who is *not* hell-bent on conquering a kingdom or empire. I am not excluding military or diplomatic expansion, but I'll take a long view, trying to grow my dynasty in power over centuries. That will be slow, but I'll see whether with the DLCs and other added content there is enough for me to do. It'll be a game about patience, about taking decisions "in character" of the current ruler, and reacting to what happens in the world around me. Exploring, expanding, exploiting, and exterminating will not be at the top of the agenda. I am pretty confident that I can fulfill my games value criterion and have 40 hours of fun for my 40 bucks. I am less confident that I would then want to start another game, because there is a large risk that I have seen most of the possible events already. On the other hand, I don't have any of the "regional" DLCs yet, so playing on the Iberian peninsula with the Fate of Iberia DLC and doing a bit of Reconquista might be an interesting approach for a later game.

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