Europa Universalis IV (EU4) follows on in recent years from another historical simulator Crusader Kings II to the point that you can transfer data from it to EU4. In EU4 you control a state in Europe, and are responsible for playing out history. If that sounds too boring, you can create your own alternative version of history and watch how the rest of the world reacts. This is great if you find the Civilization games not complicated enough. You will find plenty to enjoy here as you micromanage your state to a crazy level.

I'm no stranger to strategy games but without playing the previous games in the franchise, I was immediately overwhelmed with the numbers and statistics that control countless aspects of your country. I started off with the tutorials, which kind of help make some sense of all the numbers. But once I leapt into a proper game I felt that none of the tutorial information stayed with me! I wound up learning by a combination of trial and error, and some help from online tutorial videos. I recommend seeking out some of the online videos to help explain the game, mechanics and UI, as they go a long way to fill in the gaps the in-game stuff doesn't really address.

Most of my time playing EU4 I was either trying to appease the other providences or destroy them (conquering). Appeasing so I could do business with the providence, or to keep them from joining my ever-growing list of enemies. I found that I often had a fair share of enemies, or at least people not wanting to help out in my path of expansion through Europe and the soon to be America. War is difficult as it involves being able to keep your armies funded, and it tends to upset people. Alliances can come in a few different forms such as military alliances or royal marriages. All of the arrangements have their catches, it just depends on what you're willing to do to keep the peace.

After all your scheming and expanding and you finally succeed, you won't be rewarded with any cutscenes or congratulations. Making it that far has to be its own reward and it does feel good when it happens. Then you start again. There's enough scenarios to try out and different sides of these historical scenarios to play to provide some variety and challenge.

Visually EU4 is lots of looking at a map of Europe and America and menus. For a game about managing the countries through menus and soldiers though it manages to make it look good. You can add extra detail like trees and landscape; whether you'll want those will depend on if you don't want the little details getting in the way. Depending on the power behind your PC you might also want to leave extra details off as EU4 can be surprisingly tough on your PC, especially starting up the game. The music is adventurous with just enough pomp, which makes you feel important as you go on controlling and taking over the continents. At times makes it feel like you're in a pirate movie which is alright too.


If you love micromanaging your own virtual country then you'll feel right at home here. Those new to the franchise can easily find themselves overwhelmed (look up some tutorial videos people!). After some time learning what you're doing, why you're doing it and working around the information overload that is the UI, the game opens up and it is a good historical strategy game/simulator.