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Hearts of Iron IV report from Paradox Con

25 Jan 2014  by   Tom Spillar
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IncGamers has been spending the last few days out in Miami at Paradox Con to find out what’s on the horizon from Paradox Interactive. We just wrapped up a demo of Hearts of Iron IV and thought we’d share some of the features that were shown to us by Dan Lind, the Project Lead on the new strategy title.

The fourth installment in the long-running series covers the period of 1936 to 1948 and aims to be “the most authentic real-time simulation of WWII to date”. History can be rewritten as you can play large global powers or a small nation trying to survive (as is the style in Paradox developed titles) and a big focus on this version is to make it “easier to learn to play, rather than easier to play.” The amount of options and information presented in the previous version has previously been a barrier to entry to people and Paradox are trying to rectify this. Just as Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV improved on their prior installments.

As far as the game engine is concerned, the map that we saw was visually impressive, cities light up as the night passes over them, and Dan mentioned that tracer fire can be seen from cities during air raids to compound that effect. Vehicle and infantry models are also look good with a unit count is displayed below them, although Dan noted the version we were shown was not final.

For mod makers there’s going to be Steamworks support built in which will open the game up to possibilities.

Steamworks should be integrated into Hearts of Iron IV to aid multiplayer games as well as Steam Workshop for mod support. Paradox mention they have had a recent push for Steamworks integration in Europa Universalis IV and Crusader Kings II. There are now dedicated team members at Paradox focusing on making their games more moddable and community friendly.

Regarding new content for HOI4, Paradox have also changed their DLC strategy. In Hearts of Iron II the DLCs were separate versions of the game; this meant that you couldn’t play with someone who didn’t have the same DLC as you.

In more recent Paradox games such as Europa Universalis IV and Crusader Kings II anyone can play with anyone else regardless of the DLC they each own. This is a win-win situation for both players, who will have a barrier of entry removed, and the developers, as only one game version has to be maintained.

With regards to provinces in the game, the aim is to make it easier to control a large number of provinces with major construction projects being tied to a region (a group of provinces.) However, strategic buildings such as bunkers and anti-aircraft batteries are still built in individual provinces.

Battle plans were introduced in Hearts of Iron III expansion Their Finest Hour as an overlay on top of any map mode. Hearts of Iron IV will feature multi stage battle plans by drawing arrows from a start point to a finish point then assigning units to execute those plans. Plans are colour coded to help indicate which stage the arrow belongs to.

Hearts of Iron III had an option to have the AI make decisions for each of the main screens including research and production. These are gone in Hearts of Iron IV in an effort to streamline and simplify.

Diplomacy in Hearts of Iron IV will play a part once again, and while details were scarce, Dan did say that there will be fewer ministers, but the bonuses for each matter a lot more than in previous versions. Technology has also been given some attention, the number of options to research has been reduced but they take longer to research and are worth more. 

A new feature that is coming is the ability to further specialize your nation, we didn’t get to see this screen but Dan made it sound like a cross between National Ideas in Europa Universalis IV (using up a slot to give you a bonus in particular area) and the branching doctrine trees of Company of Heroes I (you potentially can’t pick everything.)

Hearts of Iron IV is still in early development and aims to be released early 2015.

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  1. Liam Lalonde
    -32

    Fewer ministers? 3D models still the default? Simplifying the technology trees? National Ideas?

    Man, this game is already sounding worse that its predecessors.

    January 25, 2014 at 7:33 pm
    1. Avatar of
      Lazerbeak
      0

      Happens a lot, the money men say, “hey this game is too complex man, we need to make it more accessible (more sales) more relevant the average gamer (moron)”, so they dumb it down, moan all you like, your just pissing in the wind.

      January 28, 2014 at 10:50 am

  2. Vigge Boll
    +3

    Yeah, I agree. Seriously Paradox, don’t make a childs game out of the straight up best strategical/tactical war game ever made. THis is chess gattdammit, not checkers.

    There are plenty of war games for that type of audience, mostly on tablets.

    January 25, 2014 at 8:46 pm

  3. preacherjonson
    +6

    I agree that it should be made a tad easier. I want to love this series but I just couldn’t put the time into HoI:3

    January 25, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    1. Vigge Boll
      +4

      Then you didn’t try hard enough. It took me aboout 80 hours to get my head around HOI3, and I never regreted one second of it. Yeah, it is hard to understand everything, but damn it is worth it.

      Again, don’t make this great series a stupid kids game. It’s hard to be the supreme comander in the most trying times of nations. Reflect that. Don’t dumb this down like EU4.

      January 26, 2014 at 1:47 am

      1. NerdCoreJm
        +3

        For every single hour of the 200 hours I’ve played on HOI:3. I loved every moment, from the mods to the once-in-a-while cheating. I’ve tried so many possibilities and still love it. I actually want Paradox to make the game more complex meaning more research, more units but of course enough for me to understand and basically entry-level people.

        January 27, 2014 at 2:42 pm

  4. Panzer
    +6

    It shouldn’t take you hours to learn a game, making it so that you have to spend weeks just to figure out what the hell is going on is not a ‘mature’ or ‘grownup’ game, it’s a poorly designed one.

    Just because it’s simplified doesn’t mean everything is going to be rainbows and meant for six year olds. Calm the hell down.

    January 26, 2014 at 3:00 am

    1. Vigge Boll
      +7

      In theory, no. But I have yet to see one game designer to make a “streamlined” or “more accesseble” game without dumbing it down a lot. These buzzwords may sound good in a meeting, or at a PC, but they don’t fit with gamers that has some demands on the game their playing.

      Yeah, HOI got a steep learning curve. It’s a coplicated game. Thats why it’s loved by hard core gamers. Nobody would give 2 f**ks about a dumbed down version of it, because theres already 1000 of those out there. Mostly for tablets.

      Then there is this one game that acctually speaks to us that can and will make an effort to learn a complex system. Don’t take that one game away from us.

      January 26, 2014 at 3:09 am

      1. Panzer
        +8

        Europa Universalis IV is a streamlined and more accessible game and Paradox set off from the get go to make it that way. It’s one of their best and more popular releases yet.

        You’re assuming that anything that isn’t stupidly complicated is a tablet game, which is an amazingly dumb overreaction.

        January 26, 2014 at 3:55 am

        1. Vigge Boll
          +7

          I’m not conviced by EUIV yet. Have played maybe 200 h of it, and not really sure if I like it more then EU3. It’s okay, not sure that it’s better though.

          I do agree that it’s more acessible and thats not a bad thing. EU has never been a game that’s very complicated. HOI, on the other side, is. And thats the beauty of it.

          Maybe I do overreact. In all honesty, we don’t know very much of the game yet, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

          January 26, 2014 at 11:32 am

  5. Vigge Boll
    +6

    I meen seriously, look at what they did to Sim City, or Civ. More acesseble, maybe. But a mere shadow of what the games use to be. No complexety (Civ got it after 2 expansions, now it’s up to a level where it’s not a game fit for tablets anymore. Congrats…).

    If it ain’t broke, don’t f*ckin fix it. HOI3, with expansions, is a masterpiece. Sure, some tweeking is needed, some remake of some systems would be nice, but the core game? Fabulous!

    It’s a micromanaging wonderland, where you have complete control of a nation in one of the most trying time in human history. It’s not supposed to be easy or acessable, it’s historical correct to make it a darn nightmare of information, decissions and options. Thats the core of the game.

    January 26, 2014 at 3:28 am

    1. TessHM
      -2

      Historical accuracy should never come at the expense of being able to enjoy the game.

      January 26, 2014 at 11:48 pm
  6. Avatar of
    Widukind
    +4

    I have confidence that Paradox can streamline this game without dumbing it down. EU IV is a prime example. It’s a game which retained all the richness and complexity of it’s predecessors, even added to it, yet managed to make the whole thing much more attractive and accessible.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like complexity and don’t want to see any concessions made on that front. Arsenal of Democracy, a Hearts of Iron II based game, is one my all time favorties. I just think there’s a lot that can be done with presenting information in a clearer manner, with better tooltips and the such.

    January 26, 2014 at 3:40 pm

  7. FastFreddie

    I’ve played HOI since the original and loved pretty much every version once they got the bugs worked out. One of the biggest weaknesses I found in HOI 3 was when you handed over some form of control of armies to the AI. They could handle the German/Polish campaign pretty quickly and close to the historical time. Hand over the German army for the Russian invasion is a very different story and not one I’ve found the AI could do well. No way unless they are doing something very different will I want to see that in HOI 4.
    The best idea I’ve heard of from the info so far is the handling of tanks/planes in pools which should make a huge difference in the replacement system if they work it that way. I really am reluctant to come around to the less ministers (how hard were they to manage to begin with) and some of the other ideas. Really don’t want to see the tech tree dumbed down a lot but for some things like tank chassis the ideas explored will be fine. I don’t see this approach working quite as well with planes which had huge varieties in all armed forces of WWII. I’d personally like to see us be able to use vastly larger amount of individual units than previous versions (ships in particular). Make it harder to win especially with better AI that doesn’t use artificial caps but makes better decisions in deployment of resources and in what it builds in the first place.

    January 28, 2014 at 3:57 am

  8. AFD
    -1

    I loved the previous incarnation until after loading several DLCs the thing just crashed and wouldn’t load again. I never could find a workaround or any Paradox patch to fix it. I’m also nervous when I read the word “streamline.” I hope they don’t dumb it down. I also hope they buff the AI.

    February 6, 2014 at 1:45 pm

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