It’s been eight years since Paradox released Crusader Kings II. Although the game was commercially and critically successful, it’s been around for a very long time at this point, which means it’s time for a sequel. In 2020, Paradox will release Crusader Kings III. That sequel’s gameplay will mostly draw from its predecessor, but Paradox has also been releasing monthly updates about Crusader Kings III that reveal new and unfamiliar features for the game.
Here are five changes for Crusader Kings III you need to know about.
What sets Crusader Kings apart from other military-strategy games, and other Paradox projects such as Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron, is that gamers become a dynasty rather than a nation or kingdom. A key aspect of the game is that the power and prestige of a House rises and declines based on how players choose to rule. While the predetermined character traits of a ruler will return in Crusader Kings III, players will be given more freedom to decide how their Monarch, Duke/Duchess or Count/Countess governs their realm.
The introduction of Lifestyle Categories (Diplomacy, Martial, Stewardship, Intrigue and Learning) and their unique skill trees allows for greater personification and detail regarding characters, a clear improvement on the game’s predecessor. This choice will give gamers the freedom to play any range of roles, from military conqueror to savy and persuasive diplomat. Crusader Kings III will allow gamers to explore the various methods of rule and their consequences. Becoming more skilled in a chosen category will increase a player’s capabilities as a leader and enhance their dynasty’s fame and reputation.
Furthermore, while inherited character traits were largely inconsequential in Crusader Kings II, they will be essential to how rulers function in the sequel. Levels of stress will be determined by how similarly one acts to their personality. Therefore, a kind, benevolent ruler will be distraught and confused should gamers make them torture prisoners in the dungeon. Though Lifestyle Categories will certainly add new dimensions and levels of player creativity, it seems risky to go against a ruler’s nature.
As one would expect, images and videos of Crusader Kings III show the game will undergo significant graphical enhancements. Maps are given far greater detail than before and show the varied landscape of Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. Players will also need to study the geography of their land to give themselves advantages in battle, which encourages them to zoom in and appreciate the finer details of this 3D world.
Also a significant upgrade are the character portraits of rulers, family and vassals. No longer just a floating head in the corner of the screen, rulers and their subjects will have a proper 3D body, which will hopefully make traits such as “fat” and “malnourished” actually visible this time. Characters’ clothes also vary depending on wealth and status, allowing players to flaunt their finery.
Further fleshing out the politics of the realm are new ways to interact with vassals, religious leaders, kings and queens. This game mechanic, known as a Hook, will allow players to use information to bend disobedient vassals to their will and ensure loyalty by uncovering secrets about them. Seduction is also new feature and will let players charm their way up the social ladder and win favor. One can even go as far as wooing the Pope.
Also new to the series is Dread. By becoming a violent and expansive ruler, players will increase their subjects’ Dread, which makes them less likely to revolt. This will allow players to expand at a quicker rate, annexing liberally with lesser risk of an uprising. Ideally this will be an improvement on Crusader Kings II where rebellion was common. However, even in times of prosperity, one must approach expansion and growing prestige with caution. As a family’s reputation grows, members might split off to form new houses and challenge for titles.
Unsurprisingly, religion is a core feature of the game. Whether it be crusading for the Holy Land or battling with heretics, players will spend much time fighting for their faith. However, one need not stick to Christianity, Islam or forms of Paganism. Instead, it will now be possible to establish a new religion, provided a player has amassed enough Piety. Rulers can decide what the important tenets and doctrines are to the religion and who the head of the Church is.
A Church’s attitude towards marriage, divorce, witchcraft, adultery and clerical laws must all be defined. This exciting new aspect will allow for a more immersive experience and unpredictability to a dynasty’s history.
One of the most frustrating things about Crusader Kings II and many Paradox games is that little content is actually available for the base game. Instead, a long list of expensive DLC is required to get the full experience. While some packages are essential to enjoying the game fully, others are a disheartening waste of money.
Fortunately, much of what had to be purchased for Crusader Kings II will come with the base version of Crusader Kings III. In the new game players will be able to start as any religion they like, making a refreshing departure from CKII where only Christian nations were available if players didn’t have the Old Gods and Sword of Islam DLCs. Gamers will also be able to start in the year 867 AD (previously only available with Old Gods DLC), allowing them to enjoy the perks of being a Viking raider before their religion and tribal way of life become unsustainable.
Still, at least part of Crusader Kings III will end up hidden behind a paywall. After all, that’s one of the reasons the game was so successful financially.
Crusader Kings III will sometime release in 2020.
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Paradox's latest game grand-strategy game, Crusader Kings III, will arrive in late 2020. Here's what we know about the hotly anticipated sequel.