Crusader Kings 2 is one of the most deep strategy games out there today, where players quest to bring their family to power through any means necessary – assassinations, subterfuge, war and deceit are the name of the game. Though the game is now two years old, Paradox Interactive has kept it supplied with plenty of downloadable content updates, the latest being Charlemagne. It’s arguably the largest expansion since Old Gods, and brings a lot of new content for hungry Crusader Kings 2 fans. Read on to find out if it’s worth a purchase.
The Charlemagne expansion allows players to start the timeline a hundred years prior to the events of the Old Gods, which means gamers can now start the game in 769, back when tribes dominated the landscapes and before the formation of the Holy Roman Empire by – you guessed it – Charlemange himself.
Since the game is centered around the exploits of Charlemagne, the main focus is on the way he ‘united Europe’ by forming the aforementioned Holy Roman Empire. The expansion packs no shortage of in-game events and backstory if players choose to play as Charlemagne, or even his brother Carloman. It is playing as these characters where the game really shines, as the customized events will present players with unique insights, risks, and choices to make.
One of the most noticeable changes in terms of intrigue and espionage is the complete removal of the Assassination option, where players could put down a large chunk of gold for a risky attempt at immediate murder. Paradox Development Studio revealed they had wanted to remove this feature for a long time, and have finally done so in Charlemagne, meaning that plots are now the go-to method of removing rivals from the map. Players who fear they’re the target of murderous plot can now also go into hiding, though they’ll have to deal with the negative effects of being isolated from public eye for any long duration of time, and hopefully have a trustworthy regent in place.
Kingdoms and Empires can now also be created without owning traditional de jure lands so players are now free to name and create their own kingdoms when they acquire enough land, even if it doesn’t conform to the placement of the historic kingdoms of the world. When the kingdom is formed, the land within the kingdom won’t become de jure pieces of the player’s realm for a hundred years of game-time. Newly founded kingdoms are therefore at exceptional risk of invasion. The inclusion of tribal holds – which were at their height in the era of Charlemagne – adds a lot of realism to the gameplay, and the fact that most upgrades here cost prestige instead of money does a fair share in mixing up some gameplay strategies when playing as smaller vassals or high chiefs.
There is now also a Family Chronicle, which will detail the major events and decisions that the player mades through generations of their selected family. The addition of this interactive book is logical, as most players would like to reminisce about the strategic decisions they’ve made within the game that have, hopefully, sent their families to an ascendency of power. Of course, the book isn’t just about happy memories – players can check back and recall that other families betrayed them, and perhaps – even generations of family members later – the time for revenge will come. On top of this, one of the most helpful editions Paradox has implemented is the ability to see claims of potential spouses when searching to arrange marriages, which helps trim down the time it takes to find suitable matches for those in your court.
Ultimately, Charlemagne isn’t a ‘must-have’ DLC for casual fans of Crusader Kings, but it does employ a great stock of new features which will keep the gameplay fresh for those seeking new challenges. Some of the improvements – like the removal of assassinations and the inclusion of tribal holdings – are included in a free patch for those without the expansion, which means Charlemagne is mostly for those interested in a hundred more years of Crusader Kings gameplay, coupled with the ability to make their own kingdoms.
Paradox Development Studio has done well to flesh out his story, though the expansion pack is ultimately a too-familiar face – albeit one packed with still-enjoyable content. Hardcore fans of the series certainly won’t regret picking it up. Casual fans, however, may want to wait for a Steam sale or until the price ultimately drops down from $16.99.
Charlemagne is currently available to download on PC, Mac and Linux.
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