Paradox Interactive is giving strategy fans everywhere a Valentine's Day gift by announcing Europa Universalis III, the newest chapter in the popular world-conquering strategy series. Few games are as ambitious or as big as the Europa Universalis games. While most historical strategy games are content to give you control of a nation's military to command its units on the battlefield, Europa Universalis is a series where you have full control over a nation's military, economy, and politics. Once again, you'll be able to select one of hundreds of historical nations and control almost every major detail as you attempt to expand and conquer the world. To get the very first details on Europa Universalis III, we caught up with longtime Paradox producer Johan Andersson.
GameSpot: In three sentences or less, please give us a brief overview of Europa Universalis III.
Johan Andersson: Europa Universalis III is an epic game where you take control of a nation and guide it through time to become a great empire. The game has a historical setting, meaning that when a game starts, you begin with the exact historical rulers, borders, and setup that a nation had at a certain moment in history. But when you play, anything goes. You may end up with the Portuguese colonizing Virginia or a grand Polish empire controlling Europe. The game simulates warfare, diplomacy, trade, religion, and colonization.
GS: As a follow-up question, how would you describe the overall direction of the new game compared to the previous Europa Universalis games? Will it emphasize military operations more, or economic or diplomatic strategy? In what direction is the Europa series going with the new game?
JA: The actual direction of Europa Universalis III is to enrich the gaming experience, making it more fulfilling while at the same time making it easier for newcomers to the series and genre to get into and love the game. We are not changing the balance of the game between warfare, economics, and diplomacy, as we believe that precise balance between all aspects of the game is what made the original game so successful.
GS: Could you discuss the scope and scale of the new game? We remember that the previous game let you choose to play as one of many different countries and champion them throughout major historical conflicts. Will the new game extend the number of playable nations even further? Will it offer a longer time frame to play in?
JA: We will be announcing a more complete feature description next month, but this is what I can reveal right now: The game starts in 1453, right after Constantinople has fallen to the Turks, and continues up until the revolutions in France and America. It is played out on a map with about 1,700 provinces and sea zones covering the entire world. The game will let you play any of over 250 different historical nations.
GS: We understand that the previous games in the series offered deep but somewhat complicated strategy that was often intimidating for newcomers. What features will Europa III offer that will be more friendly to beginners?
JA: We have thought a great deal about this when designing this game. We've been working hard on more user-friendly interfaces, but those things only take you so far. The main reason why our games feel complicated to some is that all features and options are accessible right from the start when you jump in, and you get a full map filled with objects right in your face. That causes confusion, as it gives you more unknown and intriguing objects than a human brain really is capable of analyzing. We are working hard on changing those "first impact" feelings and introducing a gradual learning curve to the game.
GS: And what new features will Europa III offer that will cater specifically to veterans of the series?
JA: Again, without giving away too much right now, veteran players will be pleased to note that we are expanding on the options the player has during peacetime, with a focus on interaction with the pope and emperors. You will see plenty of features and ideas from our other games, such as personalities from Crusader Kings, leadership from Victoria, and intelligence from Hearts of Iron II.
GS: Could you let us know when the game is scheduled for release?
JA: The game is scheduled for a worldwide release in the first quarter of 2007.
GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about Europa Universalis III?
JA: We look forward to giving you more information soon on what will become the best game ever made.
GS: Thanks, Johan.