Many years have I vied for power, many years have I formed alliances and fought brutal wars. And now, after eight long, desperate years, it is time: time to get off Crusader Kings II, because Crusader Kings III is just around the corner.
If you’re a fan of historical grand strategy, there’s a lot of reasons to look forward to playing Crusader Kings III. Here are some of the key reasons we can’t wait to play the game when it releases on 1st September, and why it’s going to offer such a different experience than its predecessor.
The World Map and Starting Areas
It’s been mentioned – and we can see on screenshots – that each province holding will be clearly seen on Crusader Kings III’s world map. In CKII you just held down a province and took all its holdings in turn, but here it’s likely that you will be able to knock out certain smaller holdings at your own whim. This makes smaller vassals clearer to see on the world map and makes tactical decisions more interesting. For instance, you may be able to wipe out a gold-producing town in order to take the cash out from underneath your enemies.
We know that the starting playing area will include Europe, the Middle East, the horn of Africa, West Africa, India and parts of the Far East including Tibet. This makes Crusader Kings III‘s starting map much larger than the starting map for CKII. This larger region will hopefully mean more playstyles as we get various ways of lives, culture and religions.
Religion is a prevalent power in the middle ages and it looks to have a fairly significant overhaul in Crusader Kings III. Instead of religions being different entities, each religion is made up of three different tenets and several doctrines. Each combination of tenets and doctrines will change the way the game plays for your dynasty and what virtues are seen as sacred and what acts are crimes. Pagan religions will be able to reform these – and apparently these religions will be easy enough to mod, with help for modders already provided in a dev diary.
Dynasty and Cadet Branches
As always, your legacy and score will be forged by the dynasty you control – but in Crusader Kings III you will be able to split into several cadet houses. If you have a fairly high level of prestige, are not in line to inherit any significant titles, and have a dead father then you may be able to create your own cadet branch of your family’s house and set out on your own new legacy.
Recruiting units has changed somewhat. Levies raised from vassal lands, made up of lowly peasants, will still form the majority of your force but making up the crux of your damage will be special Man-at-Arms (MaA) units. These will deal the dirty damage and contribute to your siege warfare. You can only have a select few raised at any one time, so recruitment will be important as you will be able to suit your army more appropriately to your needs and situation. MaA will vary from actual Men-at-Arms to siege weapons, deadly knights and even dangerous elephant units.
Plots and Schemes
Another major element that has had a fairly large overhaul from Crusader Kings II are character plots. They’re now called ‘schemes’, and they tick up over time. Instead of badgering a whole realm with gold, you will more likely want to focus on a certain few individuals, persuading them to join your scheme. No longer do you have to just kill off a certain character; instead you can choose from a variety of schemes to debase them, defraud them, seduce them or just plain old kill them. You will be able to run two plots at once; one intrigue-based plot and one that is more akin to diplomatic favour. These can not be on the same person at once.
During your time as a leader in Crusader Kings III, you will learn a lot about your realm and its people. You will learn many of their secrets; secrets you can use against them. You can use these secrets as ‘hooks’ and they can be used to blackmail vassals to accept new laws, join new schemes – or worse. Certain hooks will carry more weight, so you will need to use your secrets wisely.
Characters and Lifestyles
The character profiles have changed in Crusader Kings III. Gone are the ugly 2D portraits and in their place are more adaptive 3D profiles. They’ll change depending on a character’s age, height, lifestyle and illness. It means a profile will more dramatically show the type of character and their status at a glance.
On the subject of lifestyles, each individual personality score (i.e., Diplomacy, Martial, Stewardship, Intrigue, Learning) will have its own lifestyle choices and trees. As a result, two highly sought-after schemers could be widely different – which we think is a fantastic idea. It’ll show the difference between the Varys’ and the Littlefingers of the world; the ones who buy their secrets with gold and the ones who stalk in the shadows. This will make characters much more unique and make their personalities worth investing in.
Familiar but improved
Perhaps the most exciting prospect of Crusader Kings III is that is promises to feel familiar yet hugely renovated. We will still see prestige and piety as our main power costs, so anyone upgrading from Crusader Kings II will feel at home, but a huge number of important changes bring the eight-year old formula up to date. In particular, we’re looking forward to the changes in the religious aspects of gameplay. The focus on making characters stand out with a lifestyle is also deeply fascinating, allowing players to truly roleplay their realm as they see fit.
With only just over three months to wait until Crusader Kings III launches on PC, it’s safe to say there’s a hell of a lot to look forward to. We’ll have more on the game closer to launch, so keep reading.