Europa Universalis IV is a very complex game that can be difficult to get into for even the biggest strategy nuts. The almost eight-year-old game has undergone several updates since release. Each adds new content or tweaks existing systems. But Paradox has truly outdone itself in the latest Europa Universalis IV expansion, titled Leviathan.
Leviathan is the biggest expansion yet. There are 92 new nations and a bevy of changes to the gameplay. All of the new diplomacy is enough to make even the most seasoned player’s head spin. Southeast Asia features a complete overhaul, and new sprites for armies add more depth to the visuals. Of course, given Europa‘s complexity, you could play for hours and skip all of this. With so much content, does it work with the existing game? More importantly, is the $19.99 USD price tag worth it?
A common knock on base Europa is that, outside of Europe, there’s not much diversity. North American nations all felt the same. In fact, none of them had any unique missions. Leviathan changes that, giving each tribe a unique identity. Nations like the Iroquois have been split up for more historic authenticity. Different tribes have different traits, like Migratory — which means they are essentially nomads that can generate development by feasting off of the lands.
Southeast Asia has undergone a complete overhaul. New nations were added with unique sprites. Boosts like Concentrate Development (more on that), Expand Infrastructure, and Centralize State make smaller nations more viable. Don’t forget about European nations. More powerful kingdoms can now trade Favors for useful resources like Ducats or political advantage. Essentially, Leviathan offers an overhaul in areas that sorely needed it, and adequately enhances others.
That’s where the fun begins. Ask any Europa player, and they’ll tell you that exploits are a key part of the game. There’s an endless amount of shortcuts to glory. Build a strong military or use cunning diplomacy. In Leviathan, it’s all about making a “tall” power. The aim is to develop into a great power while maintaining just one state.
The new migratory tribes are great for this. They can bounce from province to province, sucking it dry for resources. Those resources can then be flipped into Development. I was able to mold the Wichita tribe into the most developed nation by the early 1500’s. It was stronger than anything in Europe. Naturally, I took the opportunity to invade the “civilized” world. You can also now colonize other nations. In addition to that, you can physically steal Development from any vassal nations with a trait called Concentrate Development.
Favors are another new mechanic that can be traded in for Development, political gain, or an absurd amount of Ducats. It depends on the sway you have with a particular nation. The cost is that you can bleed your allies dry. But it’s just the computer, right?
With so much content, Leviathan‘s price tag is a steal for long-time Europa fans. A lot of the new systems were easy to understand with fundamental knowledge of the base game. It doesn’t feel too unbalanced, as there are many paths to approach the game by. It adds much-needed personality to previously boring regions. The new mechanics are perfect for outlandishly powerful exploits. In essence, it’s everything that faithful Europa players would want, and then some.