Europe Universalis III
EU3 is a PC game, grand strategy genre, made by Paradox. Lots of historic events in a very deep strategy game that makes the joy of hardcore strategy fans.
- Very deep gameplay, where every small decision subtly sums and takes consequence later.
- Great historical details, like all world nationalities and great persons (advisors and political/military leaders), historical scripted events like reformation or revolution, historical choices (like forming Spain, Russia, Netherlands, UK, counter-reform, …) and many minor random events.
- The game offers a wide array of ways to customize the country and define the strategy, like national ideas, decisions and political sliders.
- Attrition is a thing, so you can’t really go crazy with wars unless you’re a big blob. Getting involved in a defensive war with a depleted manpower pool after a big war can be troublesome. That also makes going defensive slider and scorch land a viable strategy.
- Game expansions are worth having.
- Diplomacy between nations is really important and useful in this game (much better than Civilization or any other strategy games). But there are also diplomatic organizations like Holy Roman Empire, Papacy and japanese shogunate (in Divine Wind expansion) which widens the options even more.
- Battle system is nice. It’s far simpler than other Grand Strategy games like Hearts of Iron 2.
- The age of discovery is an amazing epoch to play.
- It’s a slow but fun game, where time flies.
- The AI usually does a good job during war, doing battle front focusing, making sea landings, joining big fleets, reinforcing during allied battles, etc. Most of the time.
- I prefer the EU3 trade and colonization mechanics than those in EU4. More straightforward.
Most of these points actually apply to all saga.
- Political sliders unbalance: some are just better than others because of the bonus/benefits.
- Land focus: land, quality and offensive sliders with military drill + grand army ideas and a commandant is too good. It makes the land warfare much easier, given you have the manpower to sustain it. The naval battles still may be won with a fleet big enough or some luck.
- EU3 campaign games are very very long. That’s a good point too, but it the game requires a big effort and it’s really hard to keep interest so much time to reach endgame.
- AI sometimes messes up naval fleet management and losses the fleet too easily.
- Hunting for retreating troops may be annoying if your army just isn’t big and offensive enough to deal with them quickly.
- Bugs and game engine unstable. That’s something that usually plagues Paradox games but patched EU3 is mostly fine.
Why to play?
EU3, like most Paradox grand strategy games, may seem complicated and hard to understand. Certainly, those games aren’t easy to master. But playing the tutorial, reading forums and see youtube videos is the way to go. There is a big reward for those patient enough to learn it.
Playing with any world country in such an accurate and interesting campaign is very fun and changing the world history or making a minor country into a major power is cool too.
How to acquire
You can adquire EU3 with all the expansions in various digital stores, like Paradox Plaza, Steam and GOG.
Version / Platform
I’m reviewing EU3 complete with all the expansions. Divine Wind was the last expansion released.
The saga sequel is Europe Universalis IV and it’s still being upgraded with new expansions today. It’s likely there is going to be a Europe Universalis V on development but in any case all EU games are timeless classics worth playing.
Games like Europe Universalis III
Any other Paradox grand strategy is absolutely worth it:
- Hearts of Iron 2. This is probably my second favourite (after EU3). 100% warfare oriented, battles are harder but totally amazing and the game tends more to historic outcomes than EU.
- Crusader Kings 2. This is also a very popular Paradox saga.
- Victoria 2. Game placed between EU and HOI in storytime. The least popular but worth it too.
There are other strategy games that are worth noting:
- Civilization VI: A fresh air in the most amazing 4x saga.
- Sid Meier’s Colonization: If you liked colonization in EU3, just play Colonization. Old school but absolutely great.
- Ascendancy: A cool old-school 4x. Flawed but still awesome.
- Master of Magic: The best fantasy based 4x game.
Europe Universalis is a fine piece of art. It’s amazing how the countries evolve and it’s fun to intervene in (game=fiction) wars just to keep other powers from growing too strong… as it somewhat happened in history, even if real world is far more complicated and what’s told doesn’t truly explain what’s up.