At the back of the recent announcement of Europa Universalis IV we caught up with project lead Thomas Johansson to learn how the team plans on outdoing the predecessor and its four subsequent expansions.
On why Europa Universalis III with four expansions needed a sequel:
"We've been doing expansions now for seven years or something, and we add features and some of the features we really like and some of them perhaps we don't like as much. But the thing is the game is getting kind of cramped, you have a limited amount of interfaces, you have a certain amount of game systems, and you wonder "we have this new icon and value we should put somewhere, where should we put it?". Well, in here somewhere and now this is the combined religious/politic/rebel screen or something."
On what the process of designing the game features was like:
"We figured that we need to take a close look at these features and you know why do we think that this is such a great game?" Johansson wonders. "What stuff doesn't really fit in there? What could we make easier to understand, not less complex, but easier to understand. And also we've done lots of games since then, I mean we've done Crusader Kings II and Hearts of Iron III, and we've improved our engine quite a lot and we've learned so much about development so we figured that this is the time to come back to really our favourite franchise, or my favourite franchise any way. Take a step back, look at what do we have, what do we want to do, and make a completely new game."
On the new monarch system, that has taken inspiration from Crusader Kings II:
"The monarchs are fairly similar to what they were in EU III, but what they do with their stats is that they've got power - you have diplomatic power, you have military power, you have administrative power - and these powers really go into every facet of the game and this is really going to be a game changer."
"This is going to create this sort of situation where you have this great military ruler who created a military empire by forming the army and these kind of things, and then he dies and becomes this guy who is either a complete idiot or he may be good at something else, he's good at administrative. And you have the empire you built, you have the army, but the strength you built on to create your empire is no longer your foremost strength."