Reviewed: February 4, 2011
Released: January 21, 2011
Requires original EU3 and
Paradox Interactiveís Europa Universalis III is one of those games that just keeps coming. With four expansions to its name, it lets players step into world history at almost any point between the dawn of the renaissance and the beginning of the Industrial period, directing one of three hundred nations through its history, complete with war, trade, religious disputes, rebellions, and colonization. Itís a game that started huge and keeps getting bigger, with its newest expansion, Divine Wind. |
Europa Universalis III: Divine Wind was created in response to fan demand for an expansion that covers the rest of the world, and features new mechanics for China, Japan, the Holy Roman Empire, nomadic nations, and diplomacy options and achievements for everyone. While it doesnít live up to initial desires that it might make the entire world as engaging as Europe is in the base game and the changes that the expansion introduce donít change the game as much as the fundamental changes that previous expansions added, Divine Wind might make a good change of pace for series veterans who need the game shaken up a little.
The system introduced for Japan splits the country into a series of smaller nations, controlled by rival daimyo, each trying to become the shogun and win the favor of the Emperor. Effectively throwing the Japanese leaders into a balancing match of trying to maintain favor while edge out rivals, the nations within Japan can war amongst each other while still uniting to drive out any foreign invaders. The shogunate system is probably Divine Windís single strongest addition, since it has clear effects on the game, allows players to plan their actions with reasonable certainty, and affects Japanese players and anyone who might try to take Japan on.
Meanwhile, the terrifying, lurching cousin to the Japanese systems are the new systems added to China. In order to try and rein in the massive nation and limit their options, Divine Wind adds three competing factions for China. The actions the player takes will empower a given faction and weaken the others, which would make for an excellent system if there was more direction as to how much certain acts would raise and lower given factionsí influences. While the rest of EU3ís decisions are well spelled out by tool tips, I couldnít find any direction as to how I was changing the faction in control of my nation, and was often only alerted to an option being locked out once I tried to perform it. Without feedback, the restrictions quickly become confusing and difficult to deal with. Additionally, the game seems to imply that Taoists and Daoists are two separate groups, which shows either a lack of research or a lack of interest in their subject for whoever wrote the gameís text.
Standing as a counterpoint to China, and plaguing the countries around them are the nomadic hordes that populate the world. Permanently at war against their neighbors, unless a temporary truce is met, the larger hordes do a lot to shake up the events of countries around them. The smaller ones, however, are almost comedically ineffectual. In my games as Ming China, I consistently saw the Mongol Horde get swallowed up by myself or neighboring Chinese states nearly as soon as the game began. Without a way for smaller hordes to protect themselves, they essentially become food for the larger nations they begin next to.
The changes to the Holy Roman Empire and diplomacy are largely streamlining and allowing finer control to players, while the new achievements are great for setting goals in whatís largely been a sandbox game since its conception. While some of the achievements are troublesome, such as the No Trail of Tears achievement for westernizing the Cherokee and getting them to the end of the game alive, many of them provide strong goals and challenges for players.
Ultimately, however, Divine Wind doesnít add enough to be as much of a mandatory expansion as its predecessors were. Most of the changes only apply to specific countries, unlike the earlier changes to declarations of war or rebellions, which affected the French, Aztecs, and small one-province minor nations equally. Divine Wind might be what expert players need to shake their games up and add a few more wrinkles to the formula. For the less hardcore player, though, Divine Wind doesnít change the fundamentals of the game enough to be worth it unless youíre really interested in the new implementations of China, Japan or the nomadic hordes. While the foundation built by the base game and its three previous expansions are still there, and still perfectly functional and enjoyable, the changes are so scant and specific that itís possible to play a game with Divine Wind installed and hardly notice any changes, keeping it from approaching must-get status in my book.