Out now in Early Access for PC, Mac and Linux, Realpolitiks II is a grand strategy title that aims to satisfy players’ global political fantasies as ruler of their own modern-day nation. What sort of leader would you like to be? A ruthless warmonger? A beloved bastion of democracy in a morally ravaged world? The choice is yours, except, achieving your goals takes more than good (or bad) intentions; you’ll have to juggle countless different responsibilities and factors in ruling your country, and it’s often impossible to make everyone happy. This is where the game’s title comes in: Realpolitiks. It’s not just a made up word (well, it is, in the sense that all words are made up); it refers to “realpolitik”, a method of diplomacy based on the realities of a situation, not any specific ideologies or abstract ideas.
It’s a fitting title, then, because there’s an overwhelming amount of realism in Realpolitiks II. Granted, most political leaders don’t have a large, interactive map of the world reflecting their exact political moves like you do in the game, but the typical grand strategy UI notwithstanding, there’s a lot here that feels true-to-life. In the game, you’ll be in charge of assigning your political advisors, stimulating the economy, managing parliament, kickstarting projects, establishing infrastructure, building an army, forging (or destroying) international relations and much more over the course of 100 in-game years. As you scroll around its detailed, multi-layered map of the world and tinker with the various menus that border the screen, you’ll begin to understand the depth developer Jujubee is looking to bring to this title.
Ranging from metals to manpower, rare earth elements to nuclear material, there are numerous resources which you can spend on developing your country, carrying out actions and putting projects in place. Your choices in spending these resources will determine the future of your nation. Erecting a range of tourism hotspots might help make your nation culturally relevant, but a nation of military barracks will better suit a nation destined for military dominance. How you construct your country will be informed by your vision for the century ahead. Nowhere is this freedom of choice more evident than in the ‘Projects’ menu. Here, you can shape the very nature of your nation, steering it down roads of naturalism, militarism, science, economy, diplomacy, internal security and more.
By its very nature, there’s no story to speak of in Realpolitiks II. The story is your own, and whether it’s one with a happy or sad ending depends on what your intentions are. Victory in a global political scenario—at least, in Realpolitiks II—is determined by fulfilling one of six separate victory conditions: unifying the world under a single government, controlling the global flow of information, bringing the world together under one culture, dominating the economic world, conquering the world through warfare or having the highest in-game score after the 100-year game length. Those are the victory conditions, but what happens before then is completely up in the air, especially because of the 1000+ events which can shake up the global situation at a moment’s notice.
Of course, being an Early Access game, there are some rough edges worth touching upon. For one, there are a fair few typos and grammatical quirks that jump off the screen at you. On top of that, the performance is a little choppy, with load times that start to border into the “has it crashed?” territory. Still, the game itself is functional—if you can handle the mega-steep learning curve that is.
Even in this pre-release state, it’s clear that Realpolitiks II is not a title for casual players; hell, it’s not even a title for regular players. That’s not a criticism, mind, merely a statement of fact. Realpolitiks II is dense, full of mechanics layered upon mechanics and moving parts that all interact with one another. Even writing this makes me want to lie down and think about something simple like Tetris for a while. It’s not a game for me, but as far as I can tell, Realpolitiks II is shaping up to be a worthy grand strategy title for those who enjoy their share of grand strategies.