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My experience with the game so far


Banditks
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I will preface this review that I have never played the first in the series. So some things I don't like might be an iconic feature of the series. This means I am perfectly willing to say "Ok I might not like this feature but it is an pillar of the series which means it should be there"

Graphics
They are great, vibrant colors, good textures, and lots of life on the map. I am content to happy with how the game looks both on the mega map and battles. Its fairly easy to tell what is what and who is who. The game does spam you with notifications but the handy pause feature is more than enough to deal with them. Its no worse than stellaris that also spams the crap out of you at times. The user interface is good, and once I found out the nested way you can follow the tool tips that made answering "why cant I do this?" fairly easy, the built in database NEEDS a search function though.

Economy
Generally speaking I think this is in good shape, its easy to find where resources are on the map tool. however it would be nice to know if a nation is actively producing that good or not. I am currently stuck on lodestone, Austria has access to the node but i guess isn't making it? it would be nice to be able to look at the 'markets' and see where its being sold and actively send a merchant to go get it. trading with other nations is perfectly fine, simplistic yes, but I think its fine and not overly burdensome on what is really a war game.

Combat
its pretty straight forward in both mega map and battles. There are fiddly and annoying gamey bits to it though and there is room for improvement. Its not bad but its not great, auto resolve basically lives and dies on number of troops. My marshals command ability doesn't seem to have that much of an impact and more elite/higher quality forces also don't seem to impact battles at all. its all about numbers if I have more i am likely to win. In live battles the AI does really act strange, it commonly splits up its army into small groups of 2 or 3 units and ALWAYS is flanking and not in any threatening manner its easily countered. They also commonly race in their leader, flank around and get behind my army. He is now isolated and I sent one melee unit after him and all my archers and he is dead in no time. The enemy army should stay together as one full army and hit my army, their general should STAY AWAY from the fight not dive in alone. so these are all things I would call fiddly, need help with patches.
Mega map is where the game gets annoying and gamey to say the least. first lets talk about war, and the military. being the game restricts you to a TINY number of leaders and some you simply must have it feels like artificial difficulty which I hate. If I have the food, money, and recruits to support another army, there is no reason I shouldn't be able to field another army. however the reason is my tiny bank of a leader limit is artificially stopping me. -In my opinion-, Clerics, Diplomats, Merchants, Spy's should all be on a separate bar and or have no baring on the size of my army. it gets extremely difficult to deal with the AI nations once you reach a certain size. whole alliances are forming against you which puts you at an automatic disadvantage because they by default can field more armies than you can. 4 nations vs you, they could be fielding 8 or more armies easily. If you are playing the full game you need -atleast- one of every kind of leader that alone restricts you to at best 4 or 5 armies depending on your king. Being wars are simply a number of troops game you cant stand against that. even though as a larger nation you should be able to field more armies that's just logical you have access to more of everything so you should have more of everything. It is balanced that way, because those smaller nations that band together against you they can field 8 armies you also can field 8 but that's because you are a large nation. that's 8v8 armies which is balanced.

Culture and Religion
I like that there are so many cultures around, its great variety, and really well done. I like spreading my culture around. I also notice that there is really more than just 4[ish] religions, like playing as the  byzantine empire I have my Orthodox symbol there is a different looking Orthodox symbol for the rus and other nations this implies to me there may be some plans in the future to really flesh this out in a future DLC? It would be nice if the Orthodoxy had some sort of crusade like mechanic, however that's not historically real so ah well. On the mega map the one thing I don't like about how it works is the random nature of spreading Culture and Religion outside your borders. Also the hidden information on how much, where, and how effective your push is, is really frustrating. I want to see exactly why I am pushing here or why I am not. then I want agents like the cleric to be able to specifically target those regions for defense or offensive culture/religion wars. I want to be able to clearly see all the different cultures pushing in on my lands, what % they are, how hard they are pushing and so on. I also want more clear and proactive ways to effect this mechanic. Keeping with byzantine empire, I want my culture to spread out from my front lines ideally, not randomly pop up on the north Africa coast where I have no intention of doing anything about it being I am still in Asia minor fighting the Ottomans. The PAINFULLY slow agent mission to flip recently captured zones is way WAY to expensive and time consuming. that needs to be re-balanced in some way or leave it as is and give me tools to as I mentioned before to proactively aim my culture/religion.

Leaders
I like all the things they can do, the spy is particularity robust in what it can do, closely followed by the cleric and merchant. Marshal is sadly one dimensional however. I like all the stat-building and leveling them up through the semi-random skill set is also nice. Kinda slow because books are used in so many ways but its alright. The totally random mission generation is bothersome however. There is no reason I shouldn't be able to tell my spy from the get go, "Hey I want these two nations to go to war" and find out how possible that might be instead of waiting for it to not only randomly pop up but also randomly pick the correct two nations.  Or even "I want this really powerful Marshal dead" and the spy starts working on it. The randomness of the missions is really a put off because some times an agent just sits there because the right mission hasn't been drawn yet. The Marshals need some more things they can do instead of just being to figure mounted to the front of an army. It would be nice if they could 'train' their troops to give them some exp/veteranacy [it would also be nice if that vet status had a bigger impact on battles]. They could also do 'patrols' in a rebellious zone to turn some of those pops from rebels to usable or at least get rid of them. Simply said the Marshals need some of those neat missions that other agents enjoy. [which also folds back into the annoyance that I should be able to field as many armies as my nation could support. larger nations should be able to field larger/more armies]

So I would put this game at a 5 or 6 out of 10. Its a good game, well made, I haven't crashed once, or run into any obvious bugs. Its obviously fun, and I think is in a good place to expand through DLCs and Expansions to be a really wonderful game. The rough edges can be mitigated through small design shifts and mechanic tweaks. Removing the agent/leader limit would be a good first step. Allowing those agents/leaders to be more easily directed to specific goals is also needed. More active ability to influence Culture and Religion spread is also a must.

Thank You Dev Team :)
 

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Now that I am back from work I will continue on

Diplomacy and Dynasties
Its nice to see you can really make a web of marriages across the world map. they make a huge impact on how a faction sees you and how positive they are towards you. being careful yo marry at the right time and marry your children off at the correct moment can really help you snap up some new territory or continue to bank on the good will if you pass on the opportunity. paying money to nations is always a go to +rep though that can have a ripple effect if someone doesn't like them they certainly don't like you helping them out. trading lands could be a touch more free form than it is right now but its ok. I like that you can raise your children to be a specific thing when they grow up that's really helpful to plan ahead.

There is room for improvement however, basically starting over from scratch each time your king dies is very annoying, losing non-aggression, losing reputation, and most painfully of all is you suddenly lose a whole bank of characters from your family 'tree'. It would be nice if it was set up like a real tree like you find in other war games like Total War. this dove tails into the hard limit of characters inside your nation is a real drawback. More than once i was told all royal ties to a nation was gone because their king died, which in real life is not even remotely close to the truth, you have ties to the nobility in the lands at-least and if the whole dynasty is 'gone' you should have the choice through a daughter to just absorb the whole nation into yours. So a better view of your family tree, it would be fun to see your line spread out across the key nations of the mega map and you slowly get a tighter grip on certain nations, the hapsburgs did this after all and benefited from it greatly.. sometimes..

All in all the diplomat/diplomacy I think is in a good place, good options and ability to proactively pursue goals, which you can tell is a key tenant of mine, there are some things that could be tweaks but out of everything in the game currently i think its in a good enough place to be saved for later renovations.

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Nicely put, but I do have some disagreements with you on some points.

10 hours ago, Banditks said:

 the built in database NEEDS a search function though.

Agree 100% with you on this.

 

10 hours ago, Banditks said:

Economy
Generally speaking I think this is in good shape, its easy to find where resources are on the map tool. however it would be nice to know if a nation is actively producing that good or not. I am currently stuck on lodestone, Austria has access to the node but i guess isn't making it? it would be nice to be able to look at the 'markets' and see where its being sold and actively send a merchant to go get it. trading with other nations is perfectly fine, simplistic yes, but I think its fine and not overly burdensome on what is really a war game.

You can check this on political map. Choose resource or goods view in right bottom corner and you'll see the provinces which can potentially produce what you are looking for or the ones that are producing it right now.

10 hours ago, Banditks said:

On the mega map the one thing I don't like about how it works is the random nature of spreading Culture and Religion outside your borders. Also the hidden information on how much, where, and how effective your push is, is really frustrating. I want to see exactly why I am pushing here or why I am not. then I want agents like the cleric to be able to specifically target those regions for defense or offensive culture/religion wars. I want to be able to clearly see all the different cultures pushing in on my lands, what % they are, how hard they are pushing and so on. I also want more clear and proactive ways to effect this mechanic. Keeping with byzantine empire, I want my culture to spread out from my front lines ideally, not randomly pop up on the north Africa coast where I have no intention of doing anything about it being I am still in Asia minor fighting the Ottomans.

Well I cannot talk about specifics since I don't know if that is how it works, but I think that religions spreads from your kingdom in all directions. But what effects it, is your and enemies cultural power. From your example: You can be closer to Ottomans, but since they have the same of higher cultural power then you it won't spread in their provinces, on the other hand some little kingdom in North Africa might have way less cultural power then you and therefore religion and loyalty can be easier to spread. 

10 hours ago, Banditks said:

The PAINFULLY slow agent mission to flip recently captured zones is way WAY to expensive and time consuming. that needs to be re-balanced in some way or leave it as is and give me tools to as I mentioned before to proactively aim my culture/religion.

Well I don't really agree with this in any way. I think the Devs struck the balance with the time of the conversion, since historically it was a long process (you can always speed up the game and on 8x-10x speed it flies by in seconds). But if you spread your culture before you conquer them, then the province becomes instantly yours.

You can boost your cultural power with buildings, traditions and having Cleric promote/boost your culture (20% - which is really op once you build up your cultural power). And with that I don't think this game needs % shown like you suggested since it would just become micromanaging and daunting.

10 hours ago, Banditks said:

Marshal is sadly one dimensional however. I like all the stat-building and leveling them up through the semi-random skill set is also nice. 

The Marshals need some more things they can do instead of just being to figure mounted to the front of an army. It would be nice if they could 'train' their troops to give them some exp/veteranacy [it would also be nice if that vet status had a bigger impact on battles]. They could also do 'patrols' in a rebellious zone to turn some of those pops from rebels to usable or at least get rid of them. Simply said the Marshals need some of those neat missions that other agents enjoy. [which also folds back into the annoyance that I should be able to field as many armies as my nation could support. larger nations should be able to field larger/more armies]

Agree on that. I hope they can flush this class more in the future. 🙂 

10 hours ago, Banditks said:

The totally random mission generation is bothersome however. There is no reason I shouldn't be able to tell my spy from the get go, "Hey I want these two nations to go to war" and find out how possible that might be instead of waiting for it to not only randomly pop up but also randomly pick the correct two nations.

In my opinion they struck the golden middle with spies. 

If you want 2 kingdoms to go to war with each other you should use the option "Ruin relationship" option and eventually they will start to dislike each others and start a war. The only thing you need to remember is that those 2 kingdoms must be neighbors and that it takes some time to pin them against each other.

11 hours ago, Banditks said:

Or even "I want this really powerful Marshal dead" and the spy starts working on it. 

Well I don't know how this will work.

Do we set in the rules the time it takes from the start to the death of said Marshall? If yes, then spies would become broken and no kingdom will have any army since everybody would just kill enemies Marshalls.

If we don't set the "timer" then we need to take in consideration the defense against the spies, which is different for every kingdom (since it is influenced by traditions, royal court and skills). In this case the "timer" is always different and you will never know when will it happen. 

In essence you would be replacing the current random system (that shows you % of the one mission working out) with another random system (which would not show you %), which respectfully is kind of worse and prolonged.  

11 hours ago, Banditks said:

The randomness of the missions is really a put off because some times an agent just sits there because the right mission hasn't been drawn yet. 

That's kind of the whole point of the spy. Infiltrate the kingdom undetected and work of the information and situation that you are given in that moment.

Only thing that I would suggest to the Devs is that the longer the spy is in one kingdom the grater his chances of successful mission become.

6 hours ago, Banditks said:

There is room for improvement however, basically starting over from scratch each time your king dies is very annoying, losing non-aggression, losing reputation, and most painfully of all is you suddenly lose a whole bank of characters from your family 'tree'.

I think this is what keeps the game exciting. You can go from enemy to a friend or reverse in 2-3 generations. Imagine if you marry one kingdom and then you could not attack them for 10-15 generations. This might not be historical, but it is a fun way to keep the gameplay fresh.

 

Anyways, you did write a nice feedback and I hope more players do this so we as a community can discus stuff like this and make the game even better. 🙂  

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13 hours ago, Banditks said:

I also notice that there is really more than just 4[ish] religions, like playing as the  byzantine empire I have my Orthodox symbol there is a different looking Orthodox symbol for the rus and other nations this implies to me there may be some plans in the future to really flesh this out in a future DLC?

I think it just means they are "Independent orthodox" or something like that. Although  DLC for religion would be very neat. 

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On 12/11/2022 at 2:28 AM, DoVlaLegend said:

You can check this on political map. Choose resource or goods view in right bottom corner and you'll see the provinces which can potentially produce what you are looking for or the ones that are producing it right now.

Yes, is there a button that shows who is actively show who is producing it right now?
 

On 12/11/2022 at 2:28 AM, DoVlaLegend said:

Well I cannot talk about specifics since I don't know if that is how it works, but I think that religions spreads from your kingdom in all directions. But what effects it, is your and enemies cultural power. From your example: You can be closer to Ottomans, but since they have the same of higher cultural power then you it won't spread in their provinces, on the other hand some little kingdom in North Africa might have way less cultural power then you and therefore religion and loyalty can be easier to spread. 

It would be nice to see that math and have a way to proactively push it in a certain direction. Just looking for a bit more control and understand why things are or aren't happening. I would say it shouldn't push over the Mediterranean sea for any culture or religion.
 

On 12/11/2022 at 2:28 AM, DoVlaLegend said:

Well I don't really agree with this in any way. I think the Devs struck the balance with the time of the conversion, since historically it was a long process (you can always speed up the game and on 8x-10x speed it flies by in seconds). But if you spread your culture before you conquer them, then the province becomes instantly yours.

You can boost your cultural power with buildings, traditions and having Cleric promote/boost your culture (20% - which is really op once you build up your cultural power). And with that I don't think this game needs % shown like you suggested since it would just become micromanaging and daunting.

The painfully slowness of it I was including having to wait and build up enough resources to pay for the mission ontop of waiting for it to complete with a % chance of failure and losing those resources.

 

On 12/11/2022 at 2:28 AM, DoVlaLegend said:

Well I don't know how this will work.

Do we set in the rules the time it takes from the start to the death of said Marshall? If yes, then spies would become broken and no kingdom will have any army since everybody would just kill enemies Marshalls.

If we don't set the "timer" then we need to take in consideration the defense against the spies, which is different for every kingdom (since it is influenced by traditions, royal court and skills). In this case the "timer" is always different and you will never know when will it happen. 

In essence you would be replacing the current random system (that shows you % of the one mission working out) with another random system (which would not show you %), which respectfully is kind of worse and prolonged.  

I am used to the agents in the total war series. You can control them far more precisely than in this game. Target certain locations, people, cities, and so on. then chose exactly what you want to attempt and when. Just looking for less random and more my choice. In this game there is far far less control over your agents which -personally- I am not a fan of. However if that's how the first game was and that's how it works here. Then I would chalk it up to, 'this is how this series works' and just not let it bother me anymore.
 

On 12/11/2022 at 2:28 AM, DoVlaLegend said:

That's kind of the whole point of the spy. Infiltrate the kingdom undetected and work of the information and situation that you are given in that moment.

Only thing that I would suggest to the Devs is that the longer the spy is in one kingdom the grater his chances of successful mission become.

That could be a mission you set them to "Build Network" instead of "Cause unrest". over time staying in the "Build Network" gives you a growing bonus to any missions that come along. Once you activate a mission you spend all that built up "Network" on a single mission. Once the mission is over you are back to square one and have to build the network again. That at-least feels like I am actively achieving something while I wait.
 

On 12/11/2022 at 2:28 AM, DoVlaLegend said:

I think this is what keeps the game exciting. You can go from enemy to a friend or reverse in 2-3 generations. Imagine if you marry one kingdom and then you could not attack them for 10-15 generations. This might not be historical, but it is a fun way to keep the gameplay fresh.

I worked really hard to keep Cyprus and Trebzond[spelling?] alive and happy with me. Its just a real bummer to lose a bunch of progress for no reason other than the current King died. We are all still family after all! 😞 Its bad enough to lose a leader, extra punishment to lose a bunch of progress with other allied nations. bummer!

 

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Historically after the fall of the roman empire the culture and religion was a very slow process.  And if you want to have some challenge on a game we need to make it as hard as possible. Unless you want a paradox type game where you can snowball. Rebellion are a key figure of the game but if you convert your population in no time your game will be without flavour.

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