The grand strategy genre has always been a thriving field of experiments and complex mechanics. The simulation method of these titles has always represented the complexity of political power in all its facets. The idea behind titles such as Europa Universalis or Victoria has always been to create a vast network of links between the elements of the game, in which each variant ends up influencing an infinity of details. Over the years, Paradox Interactive has proven to be a master at creating these kinds of experiences. However, did the developers master the craft in Crusader Kings 3? Here is my Crusader Kings 3 review on PC.
Crusader Kings 3 is the third installment of the series but comes several years after the second chapter. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to the novice gamer, but Paradox Interactive’s policy has always been to update their titles over time. This will predictably involve the presence of many paid additions like DLCs, with a cost that is sometimes not always amusing.
As you will see, the grand strategy with a medieval setting does not present particular novelties in the formula compared to the last chapter of its predecessor, yet it turns out to be a fundamental exit to carry on the idea of the Swedish developers. In all likelihood, again we will see the release of several expansions, but this time we can start playing the game from a more solid foundation than in the past.
UNDERSTANDING IS KEY
Separating the subjective experience from the objective one is practically impossible in a review of Crusader Kings 3. Anyone who has tried one of the titles in the series, in fact, knows well what levels of unpredictability the simulation of the world can reach. That is why, before anything else, I need to briefly explain to newcomers what this game is about.
In Crusader Kings 3 you play the role of the ruler of a county, or kingdom, and you will have the task of managing every aspect of your possessions. You can choose a date ranging from 867 AD to 1066, and from there everything will be in your hands, carrying your dynasty forward from century to century.
You will have to choose your advisors, maintain relations with other rulers, decide when to go to war and against whom, what culture to impose on your people in more or less dictatorial ways, but also dedicate yourself to more careful moments with your relatives and children. Once a game has started, time will begin to flow naturally, leading the world to develop in an often unpredictable and absurd way.
Crusader Kings 3 doesn’t care too much about rewriting the course of history but allowing you to accomplish chronologically impossible goals. Like, for example, conquering the entire peninsula with a small county. The title interface is really complex.
The tutorial alone, for example, took me a long time, trying to get familiar with the vast amount of technical terms. Mechanics such as Religion, War, the Vassalage system, Culture, or Schemes are only a fraction of what you will have to master to better manage your possessions.
A COMPLEX WORLD
The vast amount of terms and names that Paradox Interactive’s grand strategy title uses to convey its message serves to specify the complex narrative power of a title. Each character within the game, from the most powerful ruler to the most irrelevant courtier, will have a purpose, albeit at times small, on the evolution of events.
This semantic exchange is continuous and materializes in gigantic events, such as a big war, or in smaller ones, as in the case of a dog that I received as a gift. Apparently, my dog should not have interfered too much in the complex political dynamics. Yet, when I took him with us to the war councils and to give him more freedom, the effects of his actions were not long in making themselves felt.
In short, my dog has become a little troublemaker, capable of spoiling the food in the pantry and annoying the countless characters who live in the court. One of them, who is a very influential vassal, was so desperate in getting rid of my dog, that he asked me to fix this problem immediately. Obviously, I took my dog’s side. After all, it’s just an animal, and there are many more important things to think about.
Too bad that this has completely influenced and ruined my relations with the offended party. Small and large stories like this follow each other relentlessly within a world in constant evolution, carrying on a systemic narrative that passes with great elegance. All of this, of course, comes at a cost in terms of time and dedication by the user, although, Crusader Kings 3 is not totally ridiculous when it comes to helping newbies.
ADJUSTING YOUR EXPERIENCE
The possibility of starting with the recommended kingdoms divided according to the difficulty is the first step to become familiar with the game mechanics. Fortunately, other options are also adjustable in such a way as to guarantee a smoother experience for less savvy players, without hindering the desire for challenge of diehard fans.
For example, rather than the difficulty of military clashes, you can make your life easier by reducing or eliminating the number of resources required for certain actions. For those who have suffered greatly from the impassable wall represented by a title like Europa Universalis IV, Crusader Kings 3 is almost a blessing. The ability to enjoy the title in a more relaxed and narrative way opens the door to a new type of experience that, in the past, was the prerogative of relatively few diehards.
The technical sector has always represented an almost secondary element in terms of experience in titles like this. Everything that happens on the screen is mostly represented by static images and words present in the complex game interface, which will definitely not fail to cause some headaches in the early days. The only polygonal models refer to the map of the world and the characters that will interact with you.
Although they are quite detailed, it is clear that this is not a title that makes graphic complexity its workhorse. The artistic direction sprang from the Middle Ages from all pores, as was to be expected. Paradox Interactive has carried out accurate reconstruction and research work, even if it is mostly textual and academic, rather than aesthetic.
The menu and the interface, however, are very accurate in their appearance and are overall very pleasant to observe, together with the splendid illustrations that from time to time will mark the alternation of your kingdom. The sound sector is also very positive, supported by the music of a certain thickness with a purely cinematic flavor.
Do you want to try Paradox Interactive’s Crusader Kings 3? What do you think of my Crusader Kings 3 review on PC? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Are you interested in more grand strategy games? Check out our reviews for Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man, Stellaris, Total War: Rome 2, and Hearts of Iron IV.
Crusader Kings 3
Crusader Kings 3 make it easier for newbies, but there is still a long way to go to fully understand the game. However, the value of Paradox Interactive's title is decidedly high, full of class, and will certainly delight all grand strategy fans.
- Incredible variety of situations
- Interminable longevity
- Huge amount of content
- Easier for newbies
- Takes a very long time to master