Crusader Kings 3
Despite all of the hype generated since Crusader Kings 3 was first announced, this follow-up to probably the best medieval simulator (up until now), Crusader Kings 2, has deservedly received rave reviews. And no wonder, this latest iteration does everything that made its predecessor great but adds more—while stripping away what made Crusader Kings 2 frustrating.
One thing about Crusader Kings 3 that gave me a big sigh of relief right off the bat was its straight forward tutorial. In the tutorial, you play as an Irish Earl (the Irish version of a Duke) and learn the basics of the game’s mechanics. It guides you along without being too hand-holdy and encourages you to be curious, with its super-convenient tooltips that pop-up whenever you hover your mouse over crucial keywords.
After a few hours of learning the basics, I dove headfirst into my first game as the leader of a barony within Normandy, France, in the 9th century (you can also start in the 11th century if you wish). I was a very pious older baron with a wife and three kids, one of which was my adult heir.
By looking at my heir’s traits, I quickly discovered that he was a wicked, scandalous man who hadn’t inherited much in the way of his father’s kind ways. Being a big-time family man (one of the character perks you can choose to embrace), the baron accepted him just the same. I figured that once the baron kicked the bucket and I took control of the heir, I could simply send the deceitful son off on a holy pilgrimage so that he could (hopefully) become more pious and respectable, just like his pops.
I was just learning about the various friends and enemies around my domain when Viking raiders began to come down from the north aboard their longships. As their raids continued I was eventually sieged by a couple of their war parties, but ultimately rebuffed them. After a while, their raids subsided and I went about the business of marrying off a couple of my daughters to the leaders of various countries in order to form strategic alliances.
I’d barely managed to build a small army when one of my new allies, an Irish Earl, came calling for my aid. Role-playing the noble and dependable baron that my character was, I loaded my army onto ships and set sail for his homeland. After all, he was being attacked by some neighboring lords. My heir doubled as my barony’s Marshall (your domain’s primary military leader), so I let him command my forces which now sailed for Ireland.
Our army arrived to find my ally well in control of the war. His powerful allies had jumped in to help out and were busy chasing down what was left of the enemy. Sadly, one of the enemy’s armies was still stronger than ours and a battle between the two sides commenced in a swampy Irish marshland. My forces were brutally cut down and my heir was captured—he ended up a prisoner of one of our enemies once the war was over.
Eventually, I had to pay a hefty ransom for my heir’s release from his Irish prison, just before croaking. I now took control of the despicable former heir-turned-new-baron. As the new baron, my first order of business was to send forth my spymaster to slink around in the shadows of my domain so I could find out if there were any dastardly plots afoot. I quickly discovered that my wife had been laid up with another man during the time I’d been imprisoned back in Ireland. Since I was still the same wicked man I was as my late baron’s heir, the entire affair (pun intended) wasn’t going to end well for her…
As you may have surmised, Crusader Kings 3 is the perfect melding of a grand strategy game and a medieval story generator. That’s because not only does every new game that you play consist of big picture elements, such as warfare and long-term dynastic concerns, but also the many personal matters you’ll have to deal with; there are literally thousands of characters scattered across the immense game world that you can befriend, seduce, and otherwise scheme against. By the way, the map in Crusader Kings 3 stretches as far from the west coast of Africa, to the northeastern domains of Asia, and you can play as any of the leaders within those countries whether male or female.
Admittedly, I never managed to put too many hours into Crusader Kings 2; I felt that its wonky user interface (and many complex systems) was too cumbersome to deal with. Crusader Kings 3, on the other hand, offers even more complexity but still manages to make everything easier to learn and comprehend—it’s also much more inviting and accessible.
Crusader Kings 3 has become a new perma-install title that I can never see deleting from my Steam library, just like the other Paradox titles I cherish, such as Stellaris and Hearts of Iron 4. It’s the perfect blend of grand strategy, accessibility, and endless, procedural role-playing fun. Simply put, it is the new strategy game by which all others, past, present, and future, will be measured.
Crusader Kings 3has some pretty good looking graphics that make its grand strategy gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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