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‘Europa Universalis 4’ – Rule Britannia or Perfidious Albion?

Strategy games have notoriously failed to make ships and naval warfare adequately effective and Europa Universalis 4 is no different with this problem. Subsequently, nations that relied on naval supremacy often don’t accurately reflect their strength, which can be frustrating for a game that prides itself on historical accuracies. Recently, Paradox released their latest DLC, Rule Britannia, which focuses on the British Isles and some of its peculiar accomplishments in the world.

As Europa Universalis 4 is a game that focuses on the colonial period of time, one of England’s, and then as a usual consequence, Great Britain’s strength is a strong navy. The DLC adds some minor improvements to its maritime gameplay through a naval doctrine that allows the player to adopt a particular strategy for their fleet, such as one focused on trade power or battle performance, providing extra perks depending on the strategy. This doesn’t go far enough to truly ensuring the historical accuracy of naval warfare from that period.

New provinces added to Ireland.
New Irish provinces have been added.

England’s first attempt at an empire began through piracy against Spanish islands in the Caribbean. This could be better implemented into the Rule Britannia DLC with nations able to annex islands or coastal provinces, helping to mimic how Great Britain began its empire when Portugal and Spain were already colonizing heavily. This improvement wouldn’t only benefit England and Great Britain, but also Genoa and Venice, and maybe even help to form Malaya in the Far East.

Other than the insufficient naval improvements, Rule Britannia has some fantastic updates. Missions have finally been revamped with the introduction of a mission tree, which improves the gameplay for the major nations; unfortunately, the smaller nations don’t get much improvement from it. It’s fair to say this idea isn’t complete, there are a lot of improvements needed to make it thoroughly workable, but the groundwork is certainly stable. The biggest problem is once you’ve completed all your missions, there are now no new missions to make some run-throughs worthwhile. More flexibility is needed, and adaptations so that missions can change depending on the direction the player leads.

This is in conjunction with some new missions for the British Isles, including for the Gaelic nations. The diversification of the Gaelic nations is perhaps the best aspect of the Rule Britannia DLC, with new Irish states and even the Isle of Mann becoming its own unique nation. So far, the Isle of Mann doesn’t really offer anything unique in mission or ideas that would make them a peculiar nation to play as, but the challenge itself ensures there’s some fun to be had.

rule britannia new units
The new unit models for the Rule Britannia DLC pack.

Paradox also created new unit artwork for the Gaelic nations, with most of them looking pretty spectacular. The only exception is the Scottish unit, which has taken inspiration from Braveheart rather than history and clad the poor men in tartan kilts. It might surprise people to know that tartan kilts weren’t the clothing chosen for Scottish military during the colonization period. Indeed, it’s worth noting that to this day only three kinds of people wear kilts in Scotland; grooms on their wedding day, bagpipe musicians, and Americans whose great-grandmother knew a dog from Edinburgh and decidedly went on vacation there.

Although, it wouldn’t be unfair to exclaim that this latest DLC is English focused. The extra provinces in Ireland are only going to increase the strength of England, and ultimately their formation of Great Britain. That’s great for England as an AI, who will ultimately annex and enjoy that extra Irish development, but it certainly doesn’t do Ireland itself any favors. The Low Countries also get a boost from the Rule Britannia DLC, strengthening your ability to form the Netherlands.

Curiously, it’s the latter game that will really boost Great Britain. At last the Industrial Revolution has been introduced, and the island where this phenomenon began gets several boosts, particularly many more provinces that produce coal which earns an abundance of ducats. This actually is incredibly historically accurate, allowing Great Britain to rise late game rather than the early game. This means early game colonizing still belongs to Portugal and Spain, who will naturally take South America extremely quickly.

The new mission trees.

The introduction of the Anglican church also appears to have an advantage, allowing England to dissolve marriages much easier. The implications arise with the religious intolerance of the era, isolating England. However, that’s the exciting aspect of playing as England, true to its history, it can now be the pariah of Europe and upset the Papal States for old times sake.

For this matter alone, the DLC should have been named Perfidious Albion rather than Rule Britannia. While the late game benefits of the DLC will be enjoyed by Great Britain, much of the content focuses on the early game when England still exists. Ruling the waves will remain undervalued as long as annexing coastal provinces isn’t possible with a fleet of sailors, diminishing the roots of the DLC’s title.

Where Paradox will go with their next DLC is unknown but avoiding another European-centered one would be preferable. The Indian subcontinent still requires much-needed work to reflect its diversity, as well as improvements to China and Far East Asia. Europa Universalis 4 is supposed to be European-centric as it focuses on the colonial era, however, the global consequences of the era were extortionate, so a more thoroughly designed Asia would definitely enhance gameplay.

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