Review

Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise Review (PC)

Is it expansion time already? I’ve been playing so much Europa Universalis IV that I hadn’t noticed. Could of sworn I’d set my life-speed to 1. Not wanting to waste a moment more of your time playing the ‘vanilla’ game, Paradox Development Studios have already launched their invasion of your social life by releasing the first of many DLC’s for their hit grand-strategy title. The first of these, Conquest of Paradise, was released a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve already had reports of the next DLC as well. Why do you hate our lives so?

Conquest of Paradise is a more feature-driven expansion, with bigger, more impactful changes rather than under-the-hood or subtle alterations. The main selling point, if you didn’t know what ‘Paradise’ was referring to, is the New World. This is the first time in a Paradox game or expansion that the ‘theme’ has won out over the ‘reality’ of history. America is where it’s always been and, because of hindsight, playing with the historically accurate America means that, actually, we know where everything is. It takes a lot of the mystery out of discovering the New World. This is why the headline feature for Paradise is giving players the ability to randomise the make-up of North and South America upon starting a new game. While certain areas will be roughly in the same place, or follow historical ‘criteria’, everything is essentially random – the New World could be further away than normal, or closer than normal. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and discovering my first random New World actually added a really fun element to the game, although perhaps one too many land masses for my liking.

This is one of my Randomised New Worlds. I have two colonial nations, and any additional territory I colonise in those regions will automatically go to the Colonial nation in that region

In addition to the randomised New World, there are two other key changes to the ‘Colonial’ portion of the game. For one, the Native Americans have been given a bit of a re-jig: More Native American tribes have been added, as well as special mechanics for one-province tribes to help you get a boost. There’s also generally more options for players who want to play as a tribal nation in the early game. These changes, whilst welcome, don’t do as much to make a Native American playthrough as interesting as you’d like. To be honest though, there’s not a hell of a lot to do with these nations that would fit into the existing mechanics of the game and remain true to what life as a nomadic tribe was actually like. It seems very much a “sorry, them the breaks” kind of thing. All I’m saying is – don’t expect to have your mind blown here.

The second change is the addition of Colonial Nations. All of North and South America is now divided into Colonial Regions. When a nation colonises 4 or more provinces in that region, they group together to form a new nation. These nations act a lot like Vassals do – they are separate entities, they have their own armies, fleets etc... and pretty much do whatever they want. They pay a percentage of their income in taxes or tariffs, which you can raise, but the more you do the more ‘liberty desire’ they get, and once that gets over 50% there’s an increasing chance they will rebel. If it gets to 100% they will automatically rebel. You can also ‘release’ these nations to be their own sovereign state, and then swap so that you can play as them, if you so wish. It’s a mechanic you should really read up on the rules for, as I didn’t and I got caught out by it a lot. It adds an interesting new dimension to the Colonial America game, but the AI seems especially poor at the moment. Colonial nations don’t really do anything, and so far it seems there only purpose is to sit there, give you money, and then one day rebel against your apparently ‘evil’ rule.

The Western European Node. With no land-mass, control over this node is purely down to how many ships you can throw in, and how good your trade techs are. Will be wonderful to have this with the upcoming Wealth of Nations expansion

Interestingly enough though, the Colonial Nations mechanic made me focus on Africa and East India a lot more. In previous play-throughs, I’d only ever concentrate on America because there were plenty of rich territories, and I didn’t need to focus on Africa at all. Now, with the knowledge that I’m limited to how many colonies I can form in America (otherwise they’ll just form a new nation), I’ve found myself focusing on Africa and India more, mainly because I know I can colonise at will and not lose anything, even if the pickings are slimmer. This incentive to go elsewhere is useful, although I wish there was a way to keep some territory in America without losing it to Colonial nations. You essentially have to limit yourself to three colonies per region, which is not a lot at all.

There are other improvements – for example tweaks to trade nodes, including a sea-only node called ‘Western Europe’ that is tough to control, as well as many other more low-key changes. It’s a decent expansion, but the weak colonial nation AI brings it down – they are supposed to be able to start wars and stuff on their own, but I haven’t witnessed that much autonomy so far. Still, knowing PDS they will work on that pretty sharpish. Definitely a must though, unless you really, really don’t care about Colonisation. Combined with the upcoming Wealth of Nations DLC, EUIV is set to get so, so much better.

Best Game Feature: Overall, the fact that I’m concentrating more on other areas of the world more than I usually did I think is the best bit about this expansion. Really opens the game up for non min/max players.

Videos

Comments

By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Feb 04, 2014
SirRoderick
I don't quite understand your rationale of "losing" colonies when they form a colonial nation. Hell, that's exactly what I want to happen now when I colonise. Less management from me, they maintain their own army and they pay me. You don't actually make any MONEY off of small colonies. Colonial nations are the best thing since bread. Yeah towards the end game they'll tend to want independence and all that, but the fact that they're so much more profitable now out of the gate makes up for that in a big way.

As for the AI, I think it's pretty much identical to Vassal state AI. And I honestly like that, I don't need my colonial nations doing their own thing too much. The entire reason I made them is to make me money after all.
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on Feb 04, 2014
JustCommunication
It's mainly that, obviously, I will colonise provinces with the rare trade goods in America because they bring you a metric ***k ton of money. But when they form colonial nations you lose all that basically, and can only recoup income through tarrifs.

For me, it makes the colonial rush in America kind of pointless because I don't really get anything from it anymore, hence my refocus on the Africa and East Indies game.

I'd rather have them there then not there, don't get me wrong, but I just think there's still room for improvement.

I figured they used the Vassal AI, but at the very least I'd expect them to colonise territories for themselves, instead of waiting for me to do it.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Feb 04, 2014
SirRoderick
Room for improvement is a thing there will always be in these games, at least the framework is pretty solid :P

Now I'm actually not entirely sure about this, but do colonial nations contribute to YOUR trade power in the area or theirs? I wasn't doing much of atrading game so I didn't pay attention to that, but it's something that would help make them more profitable at least.

As for the AI, free colonies coming out of them might be a nice addition as well, I agree. Not too many, but maybe they can sustain the one.
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on Feb 04, 2014
JustCommunication
As far as I know, they have their own trade-power rating, so on the one hand they are competing with you over trade, but on the other any income they make you can get at via tariffs anyway. It's possible they also contribute a portion of their power to yours, but I'm not 100% sure either to be honest.

But you'd have competing nation's colonies to deal with as well, so there is also that. Yeah, if CN's could have one colonist so they could do some colonising on their own, that'd be great.
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on Feb 04, 2014
JustCommunication
Correction: One of my colonial nations has just this moment started colonising on its own. Finally.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Feb 04, 2014
SirRoderick
so they CAN do it, they probably need to buy the idea then? OR are they just not using their colonist, cause mine never seems to have done that on their own accord.