Crusader Kings II was undoubtedly one of the best games of last year. Combining strategy with a Sims-like ethos doesn't seem like a winning combination, but in reality it is a glorious experience of intrigue, fratricide, and arranged marriage. With a start date of 1066, the original experience pulled you into a Medieval Europe that was in flux. Alliances were sought, wars waged, and nations conquered; and I managed to unite Great Britain with France all under the banner of a glorious 4 year old Queen. Glory to me!
Following hot on the heels of the Republic DLC, the next step for Crusader Kings 2 is actually a reflection back even further down the historical wormhole. As the title may suggest, Pagans and Zoroastrians are in the sights of the Paradox Development Studio this time around.
Setting the starting date back to 867 AD, The Old Gods opens up with the founding of the kingdom of Rus, and the invasion of England by the Great Heaven Army: that's Vikings to me and you. While details are still sketchy, and development in early stages, this next instalment of DLC looks to be the most ambitious undertaken by the developer. Players can now reside over great Pagan nations and indulge in the types of pillaging that Asterix and Obelisk never really told us about.
One of the biggest changes is that of landless playable characters. While before the terms of a campaign lay strictly on being a landowner, courageous, or more likely morally dubious, sorts can now rally armies and war bands, and start to carve out their own legend by conquering nations. Rebellion within the existing game is also mutating. Uprisings will now no longer be faceless, nameless armies appearing in unhappy lands but instead driven by certain ambitions, and characters with particularly agendas.
But all of this wouldn't be Crusader Kings if the careful game of diplomacy and development was overlooked. TOG looks to add more in-game decisions and events such as curses, omens, divinations, and runestones.And adding to all of this is a greater emphasis on religious ideology, with the newly encountered pagans conflicting with the established Christian and Muslim theocracies. Holy war for Sweden just got real.
Expected in Q2, details are still in flux, and more information is to come, but rest assured if the original game is anything to go by, it will not lack ambition. Keep watching this space for more.