Crusader Kings II

Good
  • Mixes simulator and grand strategy with unique mechanics like marriage considerations
  • Lots of depth and variety in how you setup your game and plan for victory
Bad
  • Complexity will turn some away with mechanics sometimes unnecessarily add micromanagement
  • Free limitations and implementation of the free to play system
8

Crusader Kings II offers a Middle Ages grand strategy experience and builds on the solid foundations established by the original game. With plenty of historical figures making an appearance you’ll be able to live out their legendary stories and carve out your own story at the same time across the European backdrop. Uniquely while Crusader Kings II launched as a paid title in 2012 the base game went free to play in 2019 with players able to access additional content through purchases.

crusader-kings-ii-gameplay-map

At the core of this European struggle players will take their medieval dynasty from 1066 to 1453 leaves plenty of room for technological growth and progression as you make decisions about war, marriage, assassination, religion and other civilisation scale agendas. Protecting your dynasty and creating a family name that you can be proud of is the focus of the Crusader Kings II game loop with an open ended experience that ends when your character dies without an heir. With each growth in the family lineage you’ll acquire additional prestige points that boost the value of your dynasty.

While Europe is deep in turmoil a carefully planned out strategy will ensure that your family can improve their land ownership amongst the other factions and the growing religious order led by the Pope. Set in the defining moment of the modern world the medieval Europe setting provides plenty of base familiarity although can quickly alter away from written history based on the decisions you make.

crusader-kings-ii-gameplay-dynasty

While your path to victory is your own ultimately you want to finish the game with as many prestige points as possible which are the proxy indication that you were the most powerful dynasty in Europe. However, Crusader Kings II ends up being much more than chasing a high score and you’ll quickly realise this is a game that is more about the journey than the end given the branching paths and methods to acquire said prestige points. This is also influenced by your choice of starting character and time period which will dramatically impact your starting position to build your realm from.

One of the most interesting features of the game that will be the basis of many decisions is the education and genetic systems. With this system your children will inherit many of your stats (culture, traits, skills and religion) and those of your partner which requires you to balance what might be a smart decision for your empire on a whole such as marrying into a strong alliance and good for your dynasty in the long term such as marrying for genetic benefits.

crusader-kings-ii-gameplay-combat

To help you make the tough decisions the game gives you a council of five members which are each in charge of their own part of your empire and help streamline your management over matters of your dynasty and lands under your control. These advisors can be appointed from your pool of characters and fulfil roles of chancellor, marshal, steward, spymaster and court chaplain which manage diplomatic relationships, military technology, economy technology, scheme and research cultural technology respectively. All of these are heavily influences by your attributes and traits alongside those of your council members that ensure players can never master everything in your strategy.

The blend of Middle Ages simulator and grand strategy puts Crusader Kings II right up there in terms of complexity but if you take the time to understand all the elements that it offers you’ll be rewarded with thousands of enjoyable gameplay hours that always present a new challenge. With the option to define and alter this challenge by the way you setup your game it continues to deliver on its strategy focus.

Summary:

  • Middle Ages grand strategy experience released in 2012 and free to play since 2019.
  • Create a dynasty that will last the ages as you acquire prestige points to prove your dynasty power level across the generations.
  • Military, marriage, assassinations and other control of your realm ensures you have complete control of your overall strategy.
  • Always a different challenge to overcome with players able to start from various points.
  • Increase the strategy challenge with the multiplayer game modes to pull real players into the medieval European setting.

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Review Platform: PC

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Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms. He has worked in the gaming industry since 2008 amassing over 3 million views on YouTube and 10 million article views on HubPages.

Games Finder is a Steam Curator and featured in the aggregate review scores data of MobyGames and Neoseeker.
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