Five Predictions for the New Paradox Grand Strategy Game

By Edward Mass 10 Jun 2019 0

The Game Directors at Paradox Development Studio have been teasing that there will be a new title unveiled at the Paradox Convention in Berlin (PDXCON 2019) this October 19th-20th (and that's to mention anything we might get from E3 2019). While nothing is yet set in stone, it hasn't stopped fan speculation and requests. While we wait for their Autumn offensive, here are five predictions on what this new mystery title could be.

PREDICTION 1: A Cold War Grand Strategy

coldwar

During their Paradox Con Announcement, the trailer for the event features 80's synthpop aesthetics. Could this possibly be a hint that a Cold War Grand Strategy is in the works? Could the Berlin setting be a sign that the “Wall” is going back up and will the infamous “ich bin 'ein' Berliner” be something Johan Andersson will announce?

It would make sense. Paradox has always been a studio which has pushed the boundaries of “warfare” control well beyond mere combat. Culture, economy, influence, etc. have all been parts of what differentiates Paradox titles from other Grand Strategies which focus almost entirely on commanding and conquering. For example, think about how Paradox was probably the first to introduce 'casus belli' to strategy games. Previously, you only needed to right click on your enemy province to start a fight.

Yet, aside from certain “build tall” strategies, Paradox has never strayed too far from making combat and warfare central to its game mechanics. A new game focused on the “Cold” aspect of the Cold War where factions vie for control with limited open warfare could finally allow Paradox's intriguing control of unconventional warfare to take full flight.

This would provide an entirely “new” Grand Strategy experience where little to no direct fighting is done. Instead, extreme political maneuvering, proxy wars, and covert actions are taken between competing superpowers (or the rise of the Third World in the original, political rather than economic, sense of the term). This would also allow Paradox to tackle one of the most interesting aspects of Grand Strategy in a modern setting: how to deal with Global Thermonuclear War.

The Space Race, Arms Race, President Johnson's Dominoes—we could almost start singing “We Didn't Start The Fire”. The Modern world from the 50s and beyond is an exciting and interesting timeframe with massive room for unique game mechanics and flavour (with tributes to The Hunt for Red October and Wargames, perhaps?). This is what I'm personally hoping will come about as it would also mean a completely unique way to play a Paradox title. It is helpful to note that “Modern Day” and “Cold War” mods for HOI4 are already quite in vogue. To have a Grand Strategy focus on unconventional domination would be a magnum opus for Paradox to pull off.

PREDICTION 2: Victoria III

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Despite Crusader Kings II Game Director Henrik Fåhraeus blatantly denying that the new title is Victoria III, avid Paradox fans are still chanting for the third iteration of the pops-and-economy focused Victoria to finally have its place in the sun. Vicky III makes it on this list only in so far as there is an actual and real demand for it in the fanbase and might be an unexpected treat. Considering how much hype was created at the last PDXCON for Vicky III, there were many a broken heart among longtime fans when it was Imperator: Rome unveiled instead.

Still, the announcement video suggests that Victoria III has a large enough following to elicit a direct mention from the developers even if it isn't going to be the game announced.

PREDICTION 3: A “Dark Ages” Grand Strategy

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Perhaps following in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed Attila – Total War, a new game that bridges the gap between Imperator: Rome and Crusader Kings II might be the next title to migrate into the Paradox stable. Of the current timeframe covered by Paradox's games, only the period of the Early Middle Ages remains untouched. If that piece is complete, it will mean that one can take one's tiny Germanic tribe from raiding the outskirts of the Roman Empire to conquering the world with Panzer divisions without interruption (not to mention finally bringing it to the galaxy of Stellaris).

Still, it's a bit of a long shot considering how raw Imperator: Rome is at the moment and this idea might be a planned expansion for Imperator (or even CKII) sometime in the future to maximize the DLC monetary policy that Paradox is keen on pursuing. Still, while this period might be much maligned due to its “dark” connotations, it was actually quite a fascinating and interesting time in human history even with an-almost-resurgent Rome in the figure of Justinian the Great. In other words, there is enough historical drama to justify a title in and of itself. Interestingly, there is already an Imperator mod that deals with this time period.

PREDICTION 4: A Fantasy Grand Strategy

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When Stellaris was announced, fans were stunned and amazed that Paradox—long known for its purely historical Grand Strategy titles—was going to tackle something as innovative and beloved as the science fiction genre. Still, Stellaris was an amazing success. Who's to say that Paradox, having acquired its sealegs for “creating” history rather than simply tweaking it, is not ready to tackle a completely Fantasy scenario.

It's not so hard to imagine the approach they could take since Stellaris could serve as a template. Instead of having to rely on one Fantasy title, the new Fantasy Grand Strategy could create a sandbox fantasy world with all of the great tropes just like how Stellaris amalgamated the tropes of almost every sci fi franchise out there from Star Trek and Babylon 5 to Star Wars and Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

There could be Dark Lord end game bosses, ancient Elven “fallen empires”, Orc Hordes, and fearsome dragons afoot—everything that already exists as proof of concept in Stellaris (there were even space dragons!). The easy translation of the Stellaris model of “build your own sci fi” could be applied to Fantasy and it wasn't that long ago that one of Stellaris's game directors, Martin Anward, was tapped to work on a “secret project”.

Let's not forget that Game of Thrones mods and Skyrim mods continue to be some of the most popular modifications to Crusader Kings II and EUIV. The demand is there, the engine makes it possible, and the Stellaris creative team has already proven that they can pull together genre-defining tropes into a sandbox strategy format.

PREDICTION 5: A Mobile Grand Strategy Game

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This is one prediction that I'm hoping I'm completely wrong about. Still, it cannot be denied that many studios are trying to cash in on the huge mobile games market—sometimes to massive backlash. Nonetheless, even while most young people don't own their own PC or console, it's almost certain that more and more are owning smartphones and other mobile devices that companies are trying to monetize. To that end, will Paradox also take the Faustian exchange and reach out to more hardware platforms? After all, there are already plenty of ports for Stellaris onto the console, could a new game specifically designed to hit the devices in our pockets be the new monster Paradox will unleash?

It would make a disgusting amount of sense. After all, most Paradox games only require a heavy amount of left clicking which already makes it conducive to a mobile platform (how many times have I discretely played Europa Universalis III during college lectures using only my touchpad on my laptop!).

While there are a lot of mobile strategy games already (some even created by Paradox), they tend to be cartoonish and none have the pedigree or the depth of a “mainline” Paradox title. Mobile devices are finally gaining enough workable space to host the massive amount of files and calculations necessary to run a Paradox Grand Strategy. Whether or not it's going to be a port or a totally new franchise would remain to be seen, but the reign of the PC master race dominating the Paradox landscape might be coming to an end. Let's just hope Paradox finally pulls their optimization out of the Middle Ages so that mobile devices can handle the late-game strain.

What are your predictions for Paradox's new projects being revealed in October? Stay tuned to the PC Gaming Show later today as well as Paradox takes the stage!

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