Crusader Kings III: A First Look

As mentioned yesterday, Crusader Kings III came out. I had seen a few previews for it, and it looked fun enough, so I decided to pre-order whatever the deluxe version was. I normally wouldn’t do this, but I found a good discount, which made the whole thing the price of a single new game – fair, as I figured the base game game plus the first expansion would be about the level of a proper new game. So last night after work I booted this up.

I figured I’d start with the tutorial. I am experienced with CKII, but I wanted to see what was different, and if the tutorial would be any good. (CKII’s tutorial was the best that company had done to that point, but it still wasn’t that great.) Plus, I had a bit of nostalgia for good ol’ Tutorial Island (aka Ireland).

As a tutorial, I don’t know how good this would be for people who hadn’t played CKII. It seems like it’s holding your hand, as is proper, but it leaves a lot out. It works quite well for CKII players, though, effectively illustrating the early-game differences between the two. However, it leaves some later-game (not late-game) differences off.

I won’t talk too much about the aesthetic differences between the two games. I’m not sure how I feel about the 3d models, but they do have a charm of their own I suppose. I must admit they make the clothing pack dlc’s more enticing – well, more enticing than zero, with CKII’s 2d portraits where clothes really don’t matter in the slightest. The map is fine, too.

Surprisingly easy and quick to unify Ireland

I was going into this trying to find what was going to be left out from the previous game. These sort of games always seem to take away things from previous games, to sell them back to you as dlc. I can’t see too much of that here. The plague system seems to be gone, and the council system seems more bare-bones than CKII with all expansions, but those were expansions I didn’t personally apply anyways, so not much difference to me. Seems most of what’s missing in the base game are a bunch of flavor-type events.

There are a couple of important differences between this game and its predecessor.

  • You can, right from the start, raise up a proper army. Levies work, but they aren’t that good.
  • You don’t need to have transports to move your armies across water. This is convenient, though also takes away from idea of oceans as obstacles (not that they made that much of a difference for ai anyways).
  • Marriages of children automatically form alliances (if both spouses are landholders), instead of just making them more likely, so doom stacks are a lot bigger of an issue earlier in the game (ask me how I know this); so it pays to have alliances closer in, rather than spread all over the world.
  • The perk system that is rather important here, and can give additional options. There’s one perk in particular, which allows you to extort money from people you’re blackmailing (after you’ve found out a secret sin of theirs), that really can bring in the money.
  • Factions seem to be a lot easier, or perhaps simpler, and thus are much more important to pay attention to (ask me who I know this).

There are other differences, but I didn’t get too much into them in the short time I played.

All in all, this isn’t a game I need to play RIGHT NOW. Which isn’t a slight against it: it’s a game I can come back to and play whenever I feel like it. Which is good, because a lot of games aren’t like that. Like Assassins Creed: Odyssey, which I will go back to before I lose the plot. But CKIII, for the first time in modern Paradox history, seems to be a complete, good, game right out the box, vanilla, and not bugged to hell or anything.

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