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Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise Review

Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise Review

Europa Universalis IV is a fantastic game; it’s deep, complex, near endlessly replayable and presents probably the finest example of grand strategy gaming ever created. Due to this, I named it my 2013 game of the year; there was never really another contender (except, perhaps, Assassin’s Creed IV). As with any modern Paradox grand strategy game, there’s plenty more content to come, not that I was bored of the game in the first place. So now, around five months on from the game’s initial release, arrives the first major expansion to the game. Conquest of Paradise is a well-priced DLC pack for EUIV that focuses on the Americas; it’s loaded with great ideas and does anything but shirk on content. This expansion is jammed with new features,  it’s an exciting step forward for the game.

The changes to the game are well balanced; if there was always one issue with the base EUIV it was that playing as a European nation was always more interesting and more diverse than playing as a tribe or eastern nation. largely because there was just a lot more going on within Europe. Conquest of Paradise leaves Europe alone and instead focuses on the mystical lands west of the Atlantic. Arguably the biggest addition to the game is the ‘randomised America’ feature which literally re-shapes the two continents that Columbus bumped into in 1492. It’s an unusual feature; Paradox rarely stray from the historical sources that they cherish so deeply, but as with the Sunset Invasion expansion for Crusader Kings II, adding a slight dash of fantasy to the equation can create some brilliant moments of mystery and discovery.

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The random map can be easily selected when starting up a new game; there’s a quick loading screen as the new continents form, and then it’s down to you and your friends/enemies to discover the new ‘new world’. The map is formed using algorithms that ensure the new world is geographically sensible; rivers flow from mountains, forests don’t tend to form by seashores, those kind of things. The creations I encountered were all interesting to explore and provided some nice surprises. One game in which I played as Portugal saw myself and Spain dominate what we believed to be the entire new world, only to have England sail a little further west and begin to colonise what would become the true land of wealth. Not knowing what lies beyond your borders is a refreshing take on the EU formula; you’ll feel more like an actual colonial power as you explore genuinely unknown lands.

The reconfigured map is brilliant to explore as one of the historical European colonial powers, but it can also be great to play as one of the Native American nations that were around long before the Europeans arrived. Of course, you can still play with the real map if you fancy conquering America as the Iroquois, Cherokee or Apache. The base EUIV game allowed you to play as one of the numerous Native American tribes, but Conquest of Paradise adds a few more to the mix and makes it much more interesting to play as one of these nations. New tribal missions provide goals during the early periods that were previously incredibly dull. The ability to migrate your tribe across the Americas is also interesting, although it probably won’t take long for you to set up camp and start expanding.

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What made the tribal or eastern nations so tricky in EUIV is the fact that you could expand pretty quickly for the first hundred years or so, but eventually the western powers would swoop in and decimate your armies, no matter how powerful you became. Conquest of Paradise aims to improve this slightly; you can now form tribal confederations, essentially unions of tribes that will band together when attacked by outside foes. In theory, it’s a nice addition to the system, but in practice not even all of the tribes united can fight off the western nations, their armies are just too advanced. To be fair, it would have been irritating to come up against a huge confederation when playing as Spain or England, but it’s a little annoying to know that no matter how well you set up your tribe, you’ll just be crushed by the mid-game.

More successful is the addition of colonial nations. The act of colonising in the base game wasn’t exactly the most exciting affair, simply plonk a few troops and a colonist in an unmanned territory and wait for it to become part of your land. Only fellow superpowers would ever pose much of a threat to your colonies and the wars were generally fought at the homelands anyway. Now, as you form your colonies, larger portions of land will break off and become colonial nations as vassals under your homeland. The colonies no longer feel like simple extensions of your normal land, but rather entities of their own with their own thought process, desires and central power.


A clever independence desire system measures the degree to which your colonial nation wants to break free; push their tariffs up too high, shake up their government too much, or threaten their own land, and you could be faced with a full blown war for independence. It’s another layer of management that feels perfectly placed within the game. This new mechanic works the other way; playing as a colonial nation is arguably one of the best elements of Conquest of Paradise. Although much of your time spent under the authority of your home nation will probably be spent building towards the big war for independence, it grants an opportunity to play as a powerful westernised nation within the other continents. A short game in which I began playing as New Spain ended with my new Mexican nation free from the shackles of Mother Spain; it was a brilliant experience that I’ll be hoping to replicate many more times.

Europa Universalis IV is a ridiculously replayable game and Conquest of Paradise has only made this even more true. All of the new mechanics are both sizeable and fun to play; the colonial nation system and the random new world mechanic are both standout features that should provide countless hours of variety. I can already envision brilliant online games where the sole aim is to become a colonial power; this would have previously been a little tiresome, but with the new DLC it should be the perfect way to either continue playing or relaunching into EUIV. There’s nothing hugely revolutionary about the expansion, but then Paradox rarely go for full conversions with their add-ons. Conquest of Paradise is simply an excellent extension to the base game that begins to fill in the few gaps found in the amazing EU world.


8.50/10 8½

Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

There’s nothing hugely revolutionary about the expansion, but then Paradox rarely go for full conversions with their add-ons. Conquest of Paradise is simply an excellent extension to the base game that begins to fill in the few gaps found in the amazing EU world.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Ryan Davies

Ryan Davies

Junior Editor

Budding, growing and morphing games journalist from the South. Known nowhere around the world as infamous wrestler Ryan "The Lion" Davies.

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