Europa Universalis III Divine Wind


posted 1/14/2011 by Tom Bitterman
other articles by Tom Bitterman
One Page Platforms: PC
There is something in a name.  Superman is obviously a good guy and Painmaster McKillface is a bad guy.  Darth Maul's mother never figured her son would grow up to be the head of the Jedi.  The same thing is true for “Europa Universalis” - it's going to be about Europe and what it did.

The engine in “Europa Universalis 3” (EU3) is very powerful, however, and allows one to play as any of a great number of countries, many of them not in Europe.  After a few playthroughs as the major (and minor) powers of Europe it can be fun to play a few games as China or Japan, or some of the other Asian contenders.  The problem with this in the game is the same as the problem that faced the non-European powers in real-life: no one could could keep up with Europe's technological, economic or social progress in this period.  Playing a non-European nation is tantamount to just waiting for a European nation to invade.  The only alternative is to rush your nation into the “Westernization” event as soon as possible, thereby becoming a European nation in everything but location.

“Divine Wind”, the fourth expansion to EU3, attempts to remedy this situation by fleshing out Japan and China.  Both countries are divided into smaller units at the beginning of the game.  China is now split between different factions which vie for power within a sort-of unified country while the player has to juggle them around to gain their various bonuses and avoid their penalties.  Japan is divided into 4 warring pseudo-countries which the player has to unite through conquest to become Emperor.  The effect is to make these countries work more like the Holy Roman Empire.  Simply making them function as a unified entity is a subgame in itself.

This works well as far as it goes.  The only real issue is that it doesn't go very far.  These unification issues are pretty much limited to the early game.  If you haven't unified Japan reasonably early on be prepared for minor power status for the rest of the game.  After unification it becomes the same old game – westernize as fast as possible or become a colony.

While it is nice to see them get their expansion in the sun (it's a “Victoria 2” joke, get it?), the Eastern countries are not the only things that get some attention in this expansion.  A few are fairly minor – better graphics, more play-balancing, new achievements – but some deserve a deeper look.

The nicest improvement is the simplest.  The player is now presented with the actual world map when negotiating a peace, and can see and choose which provinces to offer or demand.  It was a never-ending source of frustration for this reviewer in the earlier versions of the game that he would only be presented with a list of provinces and no idea where they were.  Being able to see directly what is at stake is immensely handy.
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