Fans of Paradox's globe-conquering strategy games may already have an idea of the kind of complex gameplay in store for them in Victoria II, the first full sequel to 2003's Victoria. In this intricate game, you guide a country of your choice through the Victorian era, using your diplomatic, political, and economic clout to gradually spread your influence across the map. According to Paradox's Johan Andersson, this sequel will focus less on the military and more on the economic and peaceful aspects of world domination. We spoke with Andersson at E3 2010, who walked us through what we can expect when the game is released this August.
What It Looks Like: Victoria II looks much like most other Paradox grand strategy games, such as Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron, and Andersson told us that the goal is to make the game look like an actual atlas. Truth be told, Victoria II looks ancient and even less colorful than similar Paradox games judging by what we saw, but most grand strategists are more interested in Victoria II's gameplay than its dated visuals.
What You Do: Simply put, you take over the map as time slowly crawls forward. To do so, you manage eight different gameplay elements: production, budget, tech, politics, population, trade, diplomacy, and military. Here's a quick overview of what to expect:
Production: Depending on your type of government, you can run factories yourself or you can have them privatized. However, even if you hand control of factories over to private industry, you can still invest in those factories.
Budget: Whether you choose to control production yourself or let private industry do it for you, expect the economy to react in authentic ways. For example, taxes are an important source of income for your government, but if you overtax, your citizens won't have enough money to spend on the products they need to survive. Thus, the goods created by your factories cannot be sold, which could lead to economic collapse.
Tech: There are five tech categories to advance--army, navy, and so forth. Within these categories, there are hundreds of different technological upgrades to consider. It's a smorgasbord of options for strategy junkies.
Politics: Victoria II will allow you to manage a huge number of different political options. You can choose whether or not to allow free press, establish a minimum wage, manage political parties, create a universal health care system, and much more.
Population: Your subjects will respond positively to further education. Just be careful: The more educated your population becomes, the more they will clamor for social reform.
Trade: As always, you can set up trade routes with other powers. However, if you find yourself in an economic crunch, you can buy resources from your national stockpiles.
Diplomacy: Victoria II features a "great power" system. Eight world powers are considered great; eight others are considered secondary. Both types of powers can colonize, but only the great ones exert a diplomatic sphere of influence. This system will essentially allow players to conduct diplomatic warfare on their opponents without ever involving their military.
Military: This element of gameplay was significantly downplayed in the demo session. However, you can still declare war, of course, and battles will auto-resolve. (No massive Total War-esque battles here.)
What They Say: A streamlined message system removes all those annoying pop-ups that clutter the screen in other Paradox strategy games.
What We Say: Victoria II might look old, but diehard strategists will probably dig all the micromanagement and political maneuvering involved. GameSpot will bring you more information as soon as that technology becomes available in our tech tree.