reviews\ Jan 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Europa Universalis III: Divine Wind Review


Paradox, the masters of grand strategy games have decided to revitalize their 2007 game, Europa Universalis 3, with the Divine Wind expansion in response to their massive fan following and pleads for gameplay tweaks. Though there is little doubt that devotees will eat this expansion up, is there enough extra content to warrant an upgrade?

Since this expansion is mainly focused on Asian territories, China and Japan are both split into separate provinces. You now have the option to play as one of the four daimyo in Japan to race for control of the Shogunate, or manage any of the internal factions of China. The gameplay remains largely unchanged. You start off with a single province and expand your kingdom through different influences, be it war, agriculture, trade, etc.

You'll struggle with occurrences such as revolts, attrition and bankruptcy, make tough choices and decisions regarding the current government, choose which laws to pass, pick a religion to preach to your people, form alliances, become vassals and more. It's this freedom that will entice grand strategy gamers to spend hours tweaking their kingdoms with the goal of becoming the ultimate ruler.

Though not massively improved, the map now more closely resembles the one in Victoria II, meaning it's slightly more detailed and stylized, includes a new interface that displays all negotiated territory, and contains a helpful multicolored indicator for unit strengths. The interface is still very daunting and will take time getting used to if you're new to the genre. I realize the grand strategy genre is extremely niche, but is it too much to ask for a simpler interface with the same amount of customization and freedom?

Unless you are absolutely dying to play as any of the Orient provinces, there is very little incentive to upgrade. There have been some minor tweaks to gameplay, such as the more accessible Call Allies button, and the overall greater importance to your Sphere of Influence, but I feel like this could have been done through a patch rather than a expansion pack. Divine Wind also requires you to own all previous expansion packs, meaning the gameplay additions such as war goals from Heir to the Throne and auto-merchants from Napoleon's Ambition are still present, but newcomers will have to fork over a significant amount of cash. The biggest offense is the unintuitive tutorial. After so many expansions, Paradox could have made an effort to really explain every new feature, but instead you're left to find them all on your own.

It's hard to consider Divine Wind an expansion, when it feels like these add-ons could have been accomplished through a patch or update. The slight interface changes and the ability to play as the internal factions does mix things up a bit, but once the novelty of reigning over the Orient wears off, you'll wish Paradox would start working on the next entry in the series, rather than another underwhelming expansion pack.


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Mike Splechta GameZone's review copy hoarding D-bag extraordinaire! Follow me @MichaelSplechta
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