The orgy of PDXCON announcements has already fed fans with a torrent of news, so what’s one more on the pile. Fans of giant robots got the first glimpses of the Heavy Metal expansion for BattleTech from Harebrained Schemes. Now we’re finally getting something that fans of Paradox have wanted for years. Crusader Kings 3 is finally coming next year.
We can see from the various screenshots floating around, which can be seen in the gallery below, that the visual style is being overhauled for this sequel. This will obviously increase performance load on later stages of games, especially since Crusader Kings is a very CPU-bound title. So if you happen to be on that edge of just barely getting by running Crusader Kings 2, you will need to likely pursue an upgrade before buying the third entry. And with those visuals comes a new art style for character avatars as well, a welcome change for some who disliked the painted style of previous games. Judging from what we’ve seen so far, the UI itself looks a bit different, but not disastrously so, which is a great thing for a franchise bogged down by menu clutter.
The faith and religion systems are also being overhauled for the new game. Players can now design their own religious systems in the second game thanks to the Holy Fury expansion, and that design idea is being expanded for Crusader Kings 3. Dynamic faiths and heresies will now be a much bigger part of the worlds you create in your simulations. The expanded focus on roleplaying potential for this game also ties into the religious overhaul, as the game is pushing religious tensions as a conflict driver. Naturally, we’re likely to see a more complex events system in the sequel.
One minor change though, the phrase Deus Vult has been written out of the game. Paradox very much didn’t want the modern tampering of the historical term, mostly by white supremacists, to infect the game, so the developer made the decisions to sidestep the problem.
And speaking of events, the other areas of how one constructs their characters is being worked on as well. There’s a brand new skills system, that looks a bit similar to the Waking the Tiger skill system from Hearts of Iron IV. But instead of focusing entirely on making combat troops more brutal, there’s branches of this sprawling tree for each area the game focuses on in terms of abilities. For the uninitiated, that means Martial, Diplomacy, Learning, Intrigue and Stewardship. Each of these stats works into the math running the actual simulation and is a measure of how effective your character is at a given task. The general idea behind events is that they’re like quest chains with certain conditions to trigger and complete them, and many award positive or negative traits that alter your base stats.
The focus system is back too, with a new tie-in to this revamped skill tree. The new focuses are a little more organic and themed for a somewhat more historical feel, with perks named things like “engineered for destruction”, “living off the land” and “wash your hands”. But don’t let all of this depth fool you, the developers are saying that this new title “should be more approachable, easier to get into,” which is good news for newer players.
Game director, Henrik Fåhraeus, addressed the problem of approachability by saying that “user-friendliness was never our primary goal. Now we have a chance to address an even larger audience.”
And of course, the real potential laid out by the previous games in the franchise is always there, as you can fully rewrite history in crazy and unpredictable ways. Paradox is really packing in much more depth this time around. Crusader Kings 3 is amping up the storytelling greatness that fans of the franchise know and love when it drops in 2020. And if you’re looking to see if the franchise is for you, Paradox has good news for you. Crusader Kings 2 is being made free to play. Obviously the mountain of DLC is still paid for, but it makes for a great demo of the franchise.