Articles, Blog

10 New Paradox Games Explained By A Roman Ghost

Hello! Astrid from Rock Paper Shotgun here.
We actually have a special guest on the channel. Do you wanna– okay, cool. Johnny: Hello! I’m not the special guest.
Bear with me one moment. Pax Romana… …Pax Romana… …Pax Romana! *puff of smoke* Ghoastus: Ave, citizens! It is I – Ghoastus,
the famous roman ghost. Halloween is upon us, that most ghastly time
of year, when the veil between the human world and the world of Romans grows thin, and I
can speak with all of you through the miracle of video. Halloween is a time to reflect on all that
is horrid and frightening. But for me, it’s also a time to reflect on the glories of Rome:
the rhetoric of the senate, the sensual luxury of the baths, and the artery-rupturing splendour
of gladiatorial combat in the arena. When one thinks of Rome… Astrid, off camera, interrupting: Ghoastus,
mate. This isn’t a video about Rome. It’s about strategy games. Ghoastus: Can’t I talk about Romans a little,
citizen? Astrid: maybe in a bit, if you’re good.
But do the games first. Ghoastus: *sighs*. So be it, my human friend.
Games it is. Luckily, this is an auspicious time for just such a discussion, as I have
just returned from Berlin, where I was haunting PDXcon, Paradox Interactive’s annual convention.
There, through taking an augury on the viscera of a sacrificial ox, I peered through the
mists of things to come and saw not one, not sixteen, but ten upcoming releases. Here, honoured citizens, is what I saw. Perhaps the biggest news of the convention
was the unveiling of Crusader Kings 3, the latest in Paradox’s semi-legendary strategy
franchise. Not only will you be able to play as the holy roman empire, but also as the
Byzantines, who were of course… Astrid: mate Ghoastus: Well, anyway. CK3 is slated for
2020, and was introduced by this trailer highlighting the dangers of careless reptile husbandry
around infants. Now, Crusader Kings 2 was always unusual in
that it was a grand strategy game along the lines of other paradox franchises like europa
universalis and hearts of iron, but with roleplaying elements built in. CK3, however, is a little more like an RPG
that you play on a map. The design philosophy behind the game is “character is everything”,
and indeed, citizens, it shows. After picking your ruler and start date – so
far, both 1066 and 867AD are confirmed – you will play through the life of your duke, monarch,
caliph or emperor, working to expand your realm while also developing their own rotten
personality. CK2’s splendid “way of life” DLC has
been built upon to create a full skill tree system for rulers to develop through, but
the progression doesn’t end when they die. Oh no; new for CK3, a dynastic legacy system
will allow you to use the renown your family gains through the actions of your rulers,
to unlock perks and traits that will apply to your entire bloodline. And yes, this allows
you to foster a subspecies of inbred giants. With the addition of fully customisable faiths
and religions, you can found your own weird offshoots of real belief systems, or make
your own from whole cloth. So if you want your inbred giants to practice ritual cannibalism,
that’s fine too. Marvellous stuff. Oh, and if you’ve always been interested
in CK2 but put off by the learning curve, take heed. CK3’s UI has been redesigned
from the ground up, and while the game doesn’t seem to have lost the series’ much-vaunted
complexity, it’s a lot more approachable for newcomers. Ah, space! While the stars are not a natural
haunt for a phantom such as myself, I have nothing but respect for space, since the planets
of our solar system are named after Roman gods.
Beyond the poky confines of our stellar environment, however, space is a vast and complex place,
and it’s about to become a lot more hectic with the launch of Federations, the new expansion
for sci-fi strategy epic Stellaris. In Federations, Stellaris’ diplomatic midgame,
which has often suffered from being a little turgid and static, is getting a complete makeover.
In developments that would have my old pal Cicero salivating, the game is being given
a whole range of different federations to play with, from star trek-style utopias to
hegemonies, where one species of space brutes lords it over their weaker neighbours.
There’s also the galactic community to wrangle with, a titanic version of the united nations,
complete with favour-buying, intrigue and bloc voting, where all the cultures among
the stars will bicker over the business of space. I can smell the rhetoric already.
And if that wasn’t enough, the four empire backstories you can choose as civics for your
interstellar society have been upgraded to Origin Stories, and made up to a full suite
of eighteen. Check out Nate’s article in the links below to read about all of them.
Oh, and there’s also massive new combined battleship-slash-forward bases called Juggernauts,
dwarfing the already-massive titan-class ships. And the Lithoids, a species pack of mineral-eating
rock people, complete with big mountainy ship variants, who are available for purchase right
now. They’re going to rock your world! Federations doesn’t have a release date
yet, but we’re hoping it’s sooOOOooon! Oh, and citizens, in case you were getting
too comfortable, let me take this opportunity to remind you… to… press the buttons–what
are they called? Astrid: Like and subscribe.
Ghoastus: Like and subscribe! WhooOOOooOOOoo! From space, now, to the surface of the earth,
and the end of the world! Following on from Surviving Mars, Paradox is publishing a spiritual
successor to the game from Finnish studio Iceflake, and it’s out in early access now.
Oh actually I’ll do that bit again cause I didn’t actually say the name of the game.
Following on from Surviving Mars, Paradox is publishing Surviving The Aftermath, a spiritual
successor to Mars from Finnish studio Iceflake, and it’s out in early access now.
Much like Mars, Aftermath is a survival-based settlement builder, and I’d recommend it
as the colony manager for everyone who got really into the settlement building in Fallout
4. The tone, too, has much in common with that
game – while not exactly playing the apocalypse for laughs, it’s nowhere near as bleak as
Frostpunk, for example. It’s got waste-scavenging and recycling mechanics reminiscent of fellow
apocalyptic builder Flotsam, and feels a bit like Banished to play – only with more actual
content. Most of the game takes place in the classic,
top-down view you’d expect from a colony sim, but there’s also a hex-based world
map where you can send survivors to scavenge, explore and battle with bandits who look a
lot like Batman naughty boy Bane. Bane: *bane noises*
Iceflake are looking to put out monthly content updates for Surviving the Aftermath over the
next year, after which it will undergo full release in the autumn of 2020.
Ah, now we’ve reached the important bit! Rome, citizen, the eternal city herself, and
my spiritual home. Some of you may remember that when Imperator: Rome came out in April
this year, it had a bit of a rocky birth. My colleague Nate enjoyed it a lot, but many
players didn’t. Its resource system, centred around spending
“monarch power” (or mana, as it became known), left a lot of people cold, and there
was widespread grumbling about the game feeling empty or unfinished. To say this has changed
now, citizens, would be an understatement along the lines of saying that caligula was
a bit of a silly man. Like Romulus and Remus in the lupercal, Imperator
has been suckled by the wolf of player feedback, and has had two massive free content patches
over the last six months. Whole central mechanics have been completely rewritten, and the game’s
steam rating has soared like an aquila. That’s roman for eagle.
Now, version 1.3 is on the horizon before the end of the year, and with it a free content
pack called the Punic Wars, detailing Rome’s struggle with dastardly Carthage. This giant
update will bring the game a revamped character experience system, scripted and procedurally
generated objectives, a swathe of new tactical features, and an amphora of other improvements.
And yes, it’s all completely free. Take it from Ghoastus – if you dismissed Imperator
at first, now’s the time to give it a second look. Now, while we’re on the subject of
Rome… Astrid: Ghoastus, can you move onto battletech
please? Ghoastus: Okay.
I don’t fully understand battle mechs, as they did not exist in ancient rome, but they
still bring me a certain amount of ghostly joy.
Needless to say, however, they feature prominently in Heavy Metal, the new expansion for turn-based
tactics extravaganza Battletech. Heavy Metal will introduce a suite of eight new mechs
to the lives of budding space mercenaries, featuring a mix of classic models from its
tabletop days, and some brand new murder engines. Watching it in action, I was particularly
taken by the Flea, a tiny little light mech with a coil gun that gets more powerful the
further it runs in a turn (think of it as the “noisy cricket” from Men in Black,
and the bull shark, a hulking great git armed with a “thumper” – an artillery cannon
that deals brutal splash damage to packs of opposing carthaginian robots.
As well as new ways to blow mechs to smithereens, it’ll have new story reasons to do it, with
a new Flashpoint “mini-campaign” featuring beloved characters returning from Wolf’s
Dragoons. As with Stellaris and Imperator, there’s
no firm word yet on when Heavy Metal will launch, but we think it’s soon.
Rome wasn’t a big place for prisons, as we had the colosseum as a perfectly reasonable
way of bringing civilised justice to the citizenry. But if you are into incarceration, you’ll
be interested to know that Prison Architect is expecting its first major expansion since
Paradox bought the game. It’s called Psych ward: Warden’s edition, and it’s out in
November 21st. What’s more, it’s going to be banged up
good and proper with a free content update (whose details are not yet clear), and there’s
another expansion on the way in 2020. Psych Ward, perhaps daringly, deals with mental
health in the Prison System. It’s a sensitive subject to say the least, but developers double
eleven are tackling it through the sort of abstracted, pop-culture lens that allowed
classic sims like Theme hospital to make sillies from extremely serious subject matter. Look
at the prison psychiatrists – they’re all little sigmund freuds!
Ah, Al Capone – now there’s a man who contributed an awful lot of ghosts to the world, back
in the seedy underbelly of prohibition-era America. Think you’ve got what it takes
to out-kingpin the man himself? Well, you’ll have your chance in Empire of Sin, the upcoming
management-cum-bar-fight-simulator from Romero Games.
At PDXcon, there wasn’t much new to see on Empire compared to what we already saw
at Gamescom, but I got to have a go and watch a tooled-up lady gangster lose the plot with
her machine gun in the middle of a fight, spraying bullets left right and centre in
fury at having lost the love of her life – a weird, hulking man-baby called Bruno.
As well as the tactical game – which still wears its XCOM influence heavily this early
in development – there’s a tremendously satisfying management layer where you can
watch the illicit dollars tick up over all your speakeasies, brothels, and coliseums–are
there coliseums in the game? Astrid: I don’t think there are coliseums
in the game, Ghoastus. Ghoastus: I think they’ll be patching them
in, no doubt, very soon. Astrid: Y-yeah, sure.
There’s also choice-based narrative segments based around ominous, soprano-style sitdowns
with rival bosses. Empire of Sin will be out some time next year
– I can’t wait to jump in and start brewing up some illegal spirits… oh ho!
Back to space now, and REVELATIONS, the first expansion for sci-fi 4X game Age Of Wonders:
Planetfall. I like the lore behind Revelations, as it’s about the resurrection of the Es’teq
– an ancient dynasty of technocorpses being reincarnated in order to lay claim to the
galaxy. Rise from your grave! The Es’Teq dynasty will stir with the help
of their Heritor descendents in new campaign missions, and you’ll be able to play with
secret Heritor tech that sounds an awful lot like death magic to me. Being a ghost, I should
know! Also, there are giant bog-eyed pigs who drool green slime, because presumably
that seemed reasonable to developers Triumph Studios.
It’s launching on November 19th, which is apparently the eleventh month of the year.
Funny, that – I remember it being the ninth month, back in the day. Ah, how things change!
Time flies by faster than a chariot when you’re a ghost.
Astrid: Ghoastus, can you stick to the script please? We’re nearly done.
The next Hearts Of Iron IV expansion pack, named La Résistance is… well, all about
resistance movements in world war 2. However, it’s also going to introduce a new espionage
system, for those of you who aren’t able to glide through walls to spy on other people.
La Résistance will give us an Intelligence Agency to train spies and send them on operations,
including supporting resistance movements, prepping collaborators to support a government
after your invasion, and cracking coded communications for battlefield advantages.
Paradox say the expansion will throw in a few extra bits for specific countries too.
France will get new National Focuses from Free France to restoring the monarchy, while
Spain will get a whole lot more Civil War. In the Paradox grand strategy fashion, the
launch of La Résistance – once again, slated for “soon” – will be accompanied by an
update overhauling bits of the game. Paradox say will include interface improvements to
battleplans and air operations, and many other quality of life improvements.
The makers of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 have announced a delay for their long-awaited
spooky RPG sequel, which won’t bother me all too much. I’ve been dead already for
thousands of years – I can wait. Bloodlines 2 was previously due in 2020 by
the end of March, and now it’s pushed back to somewhere later in the year. Hardsuit Labs
say they have a “responsibility to avoid some of the issues that plagued the first
game, which was famously launched too early” and that it recently “became clear that
to stick to our original date would risk repeating that mistake.” Hence a delay.
But if you can’t wait to tuck into a nice red pint of human juice, fear not, citizens!
The RPS video crew have recently started a let’s play of the original Vampire: The
Masquerade – Bloodlines, so I’ve been told. They’ve just been through the Ocean View
Hotel, haunted by some ghosts who aren’t Roman, and therefore can DoooOOooOooOoooo
one. Well, citizens, that about wraps it up for
today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this eerie glimpse through the mists of time, at what
is yet to come from Paradox’s video game portfolio. Now, before you go, don’t forget
to press the buttons that my colleagues have asked me to ask you to push–what were they
again? Astrid: The like and subscribe buttons, Ghoastus.
Ghoastus: Press those buttons, citizen, and I will see you again next Halloween. In the
meantime, if you want to find out more about any of the games we’ve discussed today,
there’ll be links in the description through to articles on Rock Paper Shotgun. Farewell,

23 thoughts on “10 New Paradox Games Explained By A Roman Ghost

  1. Are you open to improvement suggestions? Because I would heartly advise using a secondary monitor as an Impromptu Teleprompter. A True Roman never bows the head.

  2. Stellaris has had the worst DLC of any Paradox game. I'm underwhelmed by every single announcement (except for the archeology one; that was pretty cool and the price was nice)

  3. I simply cannot ever get enough of Ghoastus. RPS content has been lacking an ancient Roman perspective for far too long. I can go anywhere for mere modern living human views on games, after all.
    +1 for pre-Julian calendrical confusion!

  4. Thank you Astrid for bringing Johnny in to do this. For Johnny, I think this is the first time I've heard you do voice acting through an entire feature. You are quite good at it and have always been a joy to listen to. I would love to hear you voice act in an actual video game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *