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Interview with Paradox Dev Studio on Europa Universalis IV

By on October 1st, 2012 9:41 am

Europa Universalis IV: Pre-Alpha screenshot 1

Europa Universalis IV is not a sci-fi or space-based game but is an upcoming title of one of the most iconic strategy gaming series ever made, the Europa Universalis grand strategy series. We asked the readers to help us assemble a bunch of questions which they would like to see answered by the EU4 devs about this new installment. Chris King, Europa Universalis IV Lead Designer, kindly agreed on providing the answers. Here’s what he had to say about his game.

SS: Will the combat system be overhauled? Will it be more tactical with more unit variety introduced like in Hearts of Iron 3 where you can decide what brigades your division contain (e.g. a mix of infantry and panzers while in this case could be archers, pikemen, etc)?

Chris: Our plan is to retain the same basic building blocks for armies you see in Europa Universalis III. We believe it works very well and gives that blend of being able to influence your armies without too much overt micromanagement.

So in the military area, the biggest change is technological. We have removed the small incremental steps and changed them into less large steps which give your armies a clear boost. With Diplomacy we have changed the rules a bit so diplomatic actions are easier depending on relation. i.e. it is easier to declare war on a country you hate and ally with a country you like.

But the core military system will indeed be much the same, because it was one of those things that we felt worked very well in Europa Universalis III. So we applied the first rule of sequels – if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it :)

Europa Universalis IV: Unit comparison

SS: Will the tech tree be overhauled as well? Like the technologies won’t be generalized into categories like economic and military as in Crusader Kings 2 but more like in Hearts of Iron where you have specific techs? Will there be changes in this area?

Chris: We have done two things with technology. Firstly we have reduced the number of steps in the core technology system. The goal being to make sure that every step gives a noticeable bonus.

Secondly we have expanded the idea system to allow more tools to customize your country. The ideas are now purchased with the same currency as your technology. So for example do you want to buy the technology that gives you enhanced colonial range or the idea that gives you an extra colonist? Both are useful to you if you are on the colonial track these are interesting strategic tradeoffs.

SS: Will some elements of Crusader Kings 2 be added, namely concerning the monarch system, so that we will have more options with the ruler of the nation we choose to play? Will interactions between the ruler and the people of the court be added, so that we will have more emotional attachment to our rulers? Things like choose your spouse or even pick your successor to some extent?

Chris: We like the idea of you getting invested in your monarch and caring about him/her as you do in Crusader Kings II, but we naturally wanted to do this Europa Universalis’ style. So what we have done is that we have developed a system of monarch points that are used for virtually all actions in game. These are the same three categories as you found in the previous incarnations of Europa Universalis.

For example a monarch’s military ability is now used to buy land military technologies, land military ideas, build manpower enhancing and recruit time reducing buildings, buy leaders, assault fortress and other actions with your troops. If you have a monarch with a high military ability you are going to have an advantage in the military sphere as compared to neighbors and now is probably the time to wage war. In my early test games I found myself looking at my heir and despairing because although he had good abilities he didn’t have the ability I wanted.

We wanted to add in that thing that is always difficult in a strategy game of the mold of Europa Universalis series, stagnation. Our new system where monarch ability places restrictions on the player according to the monarch’s ability. Depending on the leader and his/hers abilities and traits, you get an ebb & flow in gameplay. That prevents the gameplay from going static, because you really need to be aware and change your tactics to gain as much as possible from the strengths and weaknesses of your ruler.

We felt the monarch system would make the game both more interesting and historical. If you look at the history of the period, the ability of the monarch and the rise of the nation were quite often one in the same. The person of the monarch was in many aspects the key to the period for Europa Universalis IV, because rulers changed the destiny of countries.

SS: Will there be a custom game where it is possible to dominate the whole world without the time limit be added into the game? And, if the custom game is added, will it be possible for one minor province to conquer the world? Example: papal state or any of the minor Italian provinces be able to unite Italy and conquer the world in a custom game?

Chris: Although these things are not difficult to mod, we like the time limit in the base game because it is part of the challenge for the player. Take command of a country and see how far you can go in the time you have at your disposal. This gives Europa Universalis IV a stepped difficulty level game. You may start with a larger country with more resources at your disposal. And then you work your way through the countries to constantly face new challenge and as you move down through the country sizes, the challenge associated with the game increases.

Europa Universalis IV: Pre-Alpha screenshot 2

SS: What will be the changes in building regional improvements?

Chris: Yes, as I mentioned we are making building construction linked to monarch ability. So taxation buildings use administrative ability and trade buildings from diplomatic ability. Thus building up your country comes at a cost to technological progression.

SS: Will all the features of past expansions be retained like the shogun system of divine wind and the horde system?

Chris: We start with these systems as our base and then we will modify, improve or change these as much as we feel will enhance the game experience. Time will tell ;)

SS: How will the espionage system be overhauled this time? Will it be more like Crusader Kings 2? Will we be able to make more devious plots?

Chris: The espionage system is being rolled into diplomacy, as the game is country driven and not character driven. So more devious plots is not the best to go for Europa Universalis IV. Our thoughts are to make a more streamlined system and develop nice clear choices for the player.

SS: Will EU4 take any steps to provide more army variety and change the way war works over the course of the game? Will there be a greater variety in the way the player has to manage their country based on the type of government or level of technology? Examples might include calling feudal levies or commissioning a mercenary colonel to raise an army for you, or giving greater war score weight to capital provinces in centralized states in the late game?

Chris: I’m afraid not, we don’t feel that is the direction to go with Europa Universalis IV. With any sequel you don’t want to change the parts of the game that work and in our own experience the base military system achieves the goals we have set it. Our aim with Europa Universalis IV is looking at the features that didn’t work as good as we wanted and improve them, which is why you will see the massive overhaul in trade so that it will flow through the game.

Europa Universalis IV: Pre-Alpha screenshot 3

SS: Will the AI get an overhaul? Will it become even more competitive? If so in which way?

Chris: No matter how good our AI is, it cannot gain experience in the way a player can. AI overhaul is not the best way to do it and a competitive AI is beyond us. That is not to say AI is not important, it presents a unique set of challenges. Our plan is aim for iteration in AI development. Our project plan includes additional time at the end for general improvements in the game. As part of that process we will definitely include AI, look at where the AI performs poorly and improve how it performs. Every improvement in the AI will extend the life of the AI for a player and make the game more fun to play.

SS: Can we get more details on how coalitions work? What do you think they will add to the game? What can you tell us about how effectively will the AI use them?

Chris: Coalitions are specially targeted alliance versus particular country only. It gives us a powerful tool to check the growth of a countries, because as you get too big people will band together to oppose you.

SS: How did you choose the composer for this game and what sort of direction did you give him/her?

Chris: Andreas Waldetoft has been working on Paradox Development Studio games since games such as Hearts of Iron II and Europa Universalis III. He is a very creative composer that has a very good feeling for the different time eras, the feelings we are after and the atmosphere of the games. To be honest, we have worked so long together that we don´t always have to provide him with a lot of direction. He is very familiar with all our game series and he also loves challenging himself to create grand and magnificent music to enhance the player’s experience of the games, so we give him a lot of freedom in his creation :)

These questions were assembled from input provided by long-time players of Europa Universalis games. The original questions can be found here.

Europa Universalis IV is developed by the Paradox Development Studio and published by Paradox Interative, and is due to release officially on Q3 2013 for Win PC and Mac. Checkout the official website for more information. Everything we have on Europa Universalis IV is here.

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  1. Towerbooks3192 says:


    Darn Im pretty excited for this game!!

    • Adam Solo says:

      Thanks for your input on this. As you can see many of your original questions ended up on the final interview. I think the interview was somewhat helpful to get some glimpses about the series, especially for people that never played any Europa Universalis games (like me). However, I also think that the long-time fans will probably take more out of this since they know the game already.

      Were you happy with the answers?

      • Towerbooks3192 says:

        Very Happy. Im just a bit disappointed about the reaction of some people in the comments about the interview.

        Anyway I am pretty excited about this game and looking forward to it. Now I just have to clear my list of games to finish.

        Thanks for the opportunity to ask these questions Adam and I know you love strategy so please give a paradox title a try. I would advice starting with either Crusader Kings 2 or EU 3/4 because those are the easiest (though its still takes tons of time and patience compared to something like Civ) to get into.

        If you are a WW2 buff or love micromanagement then try Hearts of Iron 3 or Victoria 2, those games are so confusing that I didn’t even get into them until now.

        Also if you are interested in trying out those hex-based wargames for grognards, the best ones for new to the genre are Panzer Corp or Advanced Tactics. I got into those genre because I discovered Distant Worlds and the matrix forum is full of those wargames for grognard. LOL

  2. Slish says:

    Normally Im not such a pessimistic guy. But this interview seemed to be mostly like: “Will you do blah blah changes? No, we won’t.”

    I’m pretty sure this will mainly be a graphical overhaul with a few improvements, but also some stuff not implemented so it can be added back in in an expansion later on (marketing!).

    This what I deduce out of the answer given on the question if stuff from the previous expansions will still be in.

    Time will tell. Im not too enthusiastic though, nonetheless I will still buy this game, just because EU3 is awesome, and even if EU4 is just EU3 with better graphics (which is what I think), it still will be nice.

  3. Smoking Robot says:

    Ridiculous interview. A grognard’s interview. No, ‘who is this game intended for’ or ‘do you want to expand the appeal of the series’ or ‘is this game more accessible and if so, how’ questions. I want the big picture. Why should I be interested in this game? After this interview, I’m not.

    • Adam Solo says:

      The interview focused on the differences between the last installment and the new regarding topics fans of the game found more important to ask about. So, the scope ended up being not about the game’s “big picture” as you call it, but more about those differences that the fans were interested to know about. Sorry if that disappointed you.

    • Bryan H. Bell says:

      The interview is comprised of reader-submitted questions. It doesn’t seem fair to complain about the questions asked after not submitting any suggestions of one’s own. Sorta like complaining about elected officials when you didn’t vote.

    • Towerbooks3192 says:

      If you have any questions please feel free to ask and I would try to answer them as best as I can.

      I am not the authority on these types of games and I am not that confident about my knowledge/skill on paradox titles but I could try to answer your question as best as I can based on the knowledge I have since I won’t be able to give what I don’t have :)

      Anyway, any questions?

  4. David says:

    The impression I get from this interview is that EUIV will be a Streamlined (simplified/dumbed-down??) EUIII with some graphical improvements.

    Doesnt sound promising to me; but let’s wait and see. I’m a big fan of Paradox and the EU series; so I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Thanks Adam for doing the interview & using Qs from subscribers. You run an excellent site.

  5. Ermdog says:

    Sounds like another EU3 expansion to me. It doesn’t sound like they are changing much and sticking to what has been working for them. Better graphics are nice, but there are some changes I wish they would make, but are set on old ways. As much as I like EU3 I will wait for a review to come out before I get this one. Seems too much of an old thing

    • killias2 says:

      Again, as I’ve noted below, this is a Q and A dedicated to what we asked them. Just because our questions didn’t line up with the changes they’re making doesn’t mean they aren’t making changes. Check out their weekly developer diaries over at Paradox Plaza or look at any of the other previews popping up around the internet. This is going to be a big shift for the series, much bigger than any of EU3’s expansions. None of them re-engineered core concepts like they’re attempting with EU4.

  6. ray says:

    To me Paradox has always churned out mind numbingly detailed and complex games that only the programmers and detailed oriented customers like. I bought EU III when it was on sale because I was intrigued enough by the colourful AAR’s on their website – but never got into it much. I recognized the potential the game has, but frankly never had the time to sit down a learn the intricate complexities of how you play the game efficiently. Too ponderously slow and complex for me. And being the sucker I am was again convinced enough to purchase Victoria II, Hearts of Iron III and Crusaders II – all because of either sales or great AAR’s on their website – and their they sit on one of my Hard Drives hardly ever played.

    IMHO, what paradox is good at is selling to your imagination. These glimpses into the enhanced or revised engine from Crusaders II further fuel this. But reading this interview is like a huge letdown.
    In other words more of the same with a few minor concessions or adjustments. Come on Paradox, lets try taking a bold step instead of just making graphical tweaks – you just might get me to again take out my credit card – and hopefully this time actually playing the game beyond the first week.

    • killias2 says:

      As a huge fan of EU2, EU3, Victoria, and CK2 (and a fan to some extent of their other releases), I don’t think you’re really giving the series a fair shake. It’s fair to say that their games are difficult to get into, but it’s not fair to criticize them without really knowing what you’re talking about. I’ve finished far more games of EU2, for example, than MOO 1 or 2, GalCiv 2, Civ 4, etc. etc..

      I also think that you and a lot of other commenters are missing the Q and A aspect of this. Just because they aren’t changing the things we asked about doesn’t mean there aren’t huge changes. They have weekly developer diaries where they’ve already outlined a number of large changes. The trade system is completely different. They’ve split off technology from the economic system, and gotten rid of the concept of “minting.” Coalitions are big change for EU, and monarchical capability will play a bigger role.

      Overall, based purely on the changes they’ve already talked about, I expect about as big of a change as between EU2 and EU3. That might not be meaningful if you.. haven’t played the games or don’t understand them. But you may as well be talking Civ 2 to Civ 4 or MOO 1 to MOO 2.

      • ray says:

        I have had my fair go at playing the games, reading the manuals and browsing the forums… but frankly I still believe the detailed rules embedded within their games are not well presented or easily interpreted.

        As for EU2, Well, we will just have to wait and see….

        • David says:

          The only way to learn the game is to play it….not read about it. It makes sense after a bit.

        • killias2 says:

          Don’t get me wrong, I think the current, final version of EU3 (with expansions) is superior to EU2, I just played more games through of EU2 than EU3. I still love both games.

          As David said, you just need to play the game for a while. It’s honestly not that hard. Basically, there are -lots- of moving parts, but none of the individual parts themselves are terribly complicated.

          I’m no programmer; I’m no grognard; and I’m fairly far from “detail-oriented.” I like strategy games, but I still haven’t quite gotten into any of AGEOD’s stuff or the games released through Matrix. Paradox’s internally developed games are about as complicated as it gets for me. Yet, I adore them.

          For any newbies, I’d definitely start with the latest release of either EU3 or CK2. If you play one and get the hang of it long enough, you’ll find it a lot easier to go to the other games. Hearts of Iron is a little more war-gamey, and, as such, I haven’t really played much of it. Victoria Revolutions is great. Victoria II almost hits that same sweet spot, but the economic system is just a little too insane for most players. You really have to spend more time wrestling with and interpreting economics than anything else. V2 isn’t going to be for everybody.

          EU Rome is sort of lackluster. It has potential, but it never felt like they really took advantage of it. Maybe in a sequel? CK1 was pretty weak too, although that was likely due to a failed attempt at outside development through Snowball. CK2 is light years better than CK1. I haven’t played Sengoku, but I’ve gathered it’s like a not-as-good CK.

          Stick to EU3 and CK2. Consider trying Victoria or Hearts of Iron, depending on a preference for economic or war games. EUR is only worth it if you totally fall for EU3 and CK2, as it plays like sort of a mixture.

  7. Josh Thomson says:

    Sounds like its going to be more of an update than the next game, ill be sticking with Crusader Kings 2!

  8. t1it says:

    They’re using the very same map as EU III with just a few minor changes. Underwhelming – when mods like MEIOU has a 100x better and far more historical correct map.

    • killzerslaul says:

      The map is not finished, remember it is still a year before this game comes out. You can actually see if you look through the screenshots that certain areas have changed between the first previews and now.
      Anyway, why is MEIOU’s map better? The number of provinces slows gameplay down to a crawl, and it just looks messy and confusing. The map will be just as moddable as EU3’s so I don’t see why they should sacrifice so much in terms of gameplay for some details that only a minority want.

  9. Ashbery76 says:

    Paradox making gameplay choices matter more than numbers and sliders is a good thing.

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Post category: Game Previews, Interviews