EU IV is just my kind of game, strategy, history, warfare, conquer the world megalomania, all wrapped in one. I started playing and got giddy with excitement about how good it all seemed. The important points I wanna make: if you're a casual gamer and the extent of your ambition is conquer Paris given 400 years in easy mode, try the game. It can be fun. However, if you think you're a hardcore strategist and have to test yourself in Ironman mode (no saves), read on. I might save you 40 bucks and countless wasted hours of game play.
1. The first thing you notice in Ironman is the ridiculous amount of times the game autosaves in Ironman, and the ridiculous length of time this takes. In a 40 hour game you might spend a full hour watching the hourglass cursor turn, while the client uploads 30-40MB saves to the cloud every time you click the mouse. It's extremely annoying and time wasting, but maybe not enough to make the game bad.
2. Garbage AI. It only takes a unit to siege a province (maybe 2-3-4 in late game). Invariably in every war I watch incredulously how my allies' or puppet states' doom stacks, just sit on an irrelevant province while I'm getting wiped out in the next province over.
3. Randomness. Combat is based on dice rolls. There is an element of chance in combat, sure, but in EU IV it's almost exclusively dice rolls (0-9), assuming equal techs and generals. Worse yet, I think it's broken! I witnessed entire wars, where the enemy overwhelmingly rolls 7-8-9, while the player rolls 0-1-2's, much more than random chance should allow in battle after battle after battle. Still you may think, this is my biggest army, with the best general, far out-classing his. You should win, right? Wrong. You check your morale, your general, your army size and composition, unit integrity, your war exhaustion level, army traditions and they're all better than the enemy's... none of it means jack if the AI rolls "you lose" 20 times in the row.
An Ironman game can just as easily be ruined by getting a string of bad kings with bad stat rolls.
Or the gazillion random events that can wreck your country.
4. Kings have a single offspring! Chalk a few failed games off to your king or heir dying to random events... "you lose" button. You can have women rulers that come to power at age 43 without children and you're not gonna get an heir. Somehow that was realistically implemented, but realism was on break when you get heirs 2 years younger than your king.
5. Broken, gamey, unexplained mechanics, exploits.
You used to be able reverse the worst underdog position in the game and get one of the harder achievements, "Basileus", i.e beat the Ottomans with Byzantium, by disbanding your army to just 5 units!
I had a stack in Russia on "rebel suppression" to keep 2 newly conquered provinces in check. It walked across Europe to suppress rebels in Spain! Worse yet, on its way back in France it tried to walk right through the biggest hostile revolt I ever saw, and wiped out. lol. I had no manpower reserves.
I once vassalized Portugal only to find out that this freed all of their colonies. Oops. I was supposed to annex it, in order to take them over. Ok. lesson learned, except this was Ironman mode and was going for "world Conquest" achiev. Good luck with that now. 20 hours of my life gone with a click of a button.
The Ledger tells you everything about any nation on Earth. Kinda useful to have perfect intel, before you go to war. Works both ways though.
Well I could go on.
Save your money and frustration, give it a wide berth or pick it up in the discount bin, if you're curious.