To start off, why not post an article so ridiculously long it scares most people off? :P
These gifts probably won't come wrapped,
but this is the most Christmas-y
picture I could imagine.
It’s around this time of year, when the Christmas lights are blinding, bells are chiming and developers are asking Santa for a solution to that pesky bug, when I look back at the year and think what presents could have made it better. I don’t mean gifts that already exist that I want in my clumsy hands, but rather gifts that don’t exist that I desperately wish did. Gifts for strategy games, in fact, that I pleadingly want developers to make. Ranging from obvious sequels to new game ideas that really haven’t been done before, this is my Christmas wishlist for things in the strategy genre.
10. New Civilization V Expansions or DLC
The release of Brave New World was the last time my friends heard of me for a long time. I played Civ 5, every weekend, changing myself to offline mode in Steam so I wouldn’t be disturbed. It was amazing. The culture system, diplomacy system and ideologies forced me to change my strategies and rethink my priorities. The new civilizations, too, were really great. Venice and Indonesia, my particular favorites, drew you in to a new atmosphere and forced you to alter all you’ve ever learned about the best strategies. Expansions are great.
The culture system of BNW...so AWESOME!
After such a good release, I felt certain that the future of Civilization 5 seemed bright. That is, until the internet started to be filled with “…the final expansion for Civilization 5…”. Needless to say, I quickly grabbed a tissue box, struggling to see it through my teary eyes. Of course, this was not to be the end of improving Civilization V. The Scrambled Map Pack came out and, as much as I appreciate Firaxis trying to keep going, I don’t think a map pack will suffice my inner want for improvement. I mostly want new civilizations and new features, be it introduced through DLC or expansions.
My list is momentous, and I might one day do a full article on possible improvements for Civ 5. It includes new civilizations, such as Australia, the Minoans, the Phoenicians, the Parthians and the Khmers, and new systems, such as a health/plague system, an economic victory, more diplomacy options and civil wars. There are so many improvements that can be made, and Firaxis needs to get going. Sure, Civilization VI may seem like an exciting topic, but quite honestly I think it will just start with about ten civilizations and the very bare features, causing me to long for the good days of ol’ Civ 5. I want Firaxis to keep making new content, even if they just release DLC here and there to make more money for Civ 6. Otherwise, I will be forced to seek the mod community to make these things for me, and a quick browse of the Steam workshop shows just how likely that is, with few people truly making worthwhile mods. This, thus, scores tenth place in my Christmas wishlist for the strategy genre.
The merchants of Firaxis come bearing additions for all.
9. Medieval 3 Total War
Oh, Creative Assembly. You’ve divided communities with your different triumphs and mistakes. Take for instance Empire: Total War. Some people (including me) loved the atmosphere and smoothness of it (when it is not crashing). Other people want to spit on its grave, and for them I give a sad face.
This constant division makes me wonder just how well the next installment in the Total War series will fare. Although I don’t know what it will be, (my imaginary leprechaun spy at the CA headquarters hasn’t reported back yet) I know that Creative Assembly will have learned a lot from their relatively shaky launch of Rome 2. So, in ninth place on my Christmas wishlist I’m putting what I think Creative Assembly should make; Medieval: Total War 3 (or Total War: Medieval 3. If I had a longer wishlist I would have included a guide from CA on what to actually call Total War sequels.)
Men, there is hope for Medieval 3 yet!
Medieval Total War II was quite good, but there was still room for improvement. There was a sense of disconnect from the atmosphere when gunpowder was involved. Whilst knights could charge into ranks of pikemen, (Actually, that’s a bad idea. Don’t do it) the cannon would stand there and go BOOM, causing the other side to surrender before you’ve really ever started the chivalric warfare that Medieval seemed to be about. The campaign map was too shallow and not complicated enough, allowing for none of the fascinating civil wars experienced in games like Crusader Kings 2.
So much for chivalry...
Now, however, the time is ripe for making a new installment that fixes all of this. In Shogun 2 Creative Assembly demonstrated that they finally solved the problem of putting gunpowder and melee units together. Matchlocks provided new, interesting strategy whilst not taking away from the experience of Feudal Japan. The games from Empire to Rome 2 also demonstrated Creative Assembly’s ability to have a complicated, intuitive campaign that is a joy to play. As well as this, Rome 2’s family system would be very exciting in a Medieval 3, so that I can watch (or be) Hardrada or William the Conqueror as they try to gain land from their dear family member. All is ready for the third Medieval Total War. I miss the days of Medieval 2 when I would loudly quote Braveheart and debate over chivalry with my speech-making general, causing my neighbours to consider me even weirder because I’d forgotten to close the window.
8. More Victoria 2 Expansions
Victoria 2 is one of those games that, when heard discussed about by two strangers in a corridor, sounds nearly as dull as council politics.
“So I decided to encourage clergyman, because I needed to improve my education so that I can research machine guns, allowing me to colonize more states in my far-flung African empire. However, this caused there to be a lot less Capitalists, and thus less people to buy the top luxury goods my factory produces, sending my factories pending near bankruptcy!” one person would say.
“Well then get a nation with a lot of capitalists in your sphere of influence, so it’s easier to send away that produce,” the other person would provide, flicking through a book called The Impact Doorknobs Had On the Late Victorian Industry.
In the news tonight - the most dull game ever found?
The thing is, though, that the amount of complexity Victoria 2 possesses makes it very satisfying to do something amazing, like making the Zulu Empire a great power. It takes determination and a thorough understanding of the mechanics. In fact, you deal with so many different mechanics that you rarely get bored with them. But it does happen. The mechanics become a little bit too overused, and you start realizing that some systems could just do with improvement. That’s why we need more Victoria 2 expansions, the eighth thing on my Christmas wishlist. In particular, I want more focus on the little uncivilized nations. We've had A House Divided, which focused on the political systems, and then Heart of Darkness, which focused on large, intercontinental empires.
However, the uncivilized nations still get nothing interesting other than a different tech tree. Paradox needs to introduce tribal mechanics and resistance to westernization, missionaries and migration. Sure, there may not be many uncivilized nations in Victoria 2, but it would make me happy never-the-less. Paradox should also introduce more focus on the population, providing more detail on why people change occupations and how popular occupations are, and should provide more population types. Come on, Paradox, the tiny consumer base of Victoria 2 is waiting…
"Play as an uncivilized nation," they said.
"It'll be very different," they said.
7. East Vs West
You may not have heard of this, and you would not be blamed. With the huge hype for Europa Universalis IV and the seemingly endless supply of new Crusader Kings II DLC, the new franchise from Paradox has gone amiss with some people.
“What?!” you exclaim. “There’s a new Paradox franchise?!”
Yes, yes there is. That is, if it ever becomes a franchise. It looks promising. East vs West, unfortunately subtitled A Hearts of Iron Game, is a Paradox grand strategy type game set in the Cold War. This, for me, is exciting, because the Cold War is one of those mystical eras where diplomacy, my favorite aspect of strategy games, was integral to a nation’s success. Oh, and there are the nuclear weapons.
Hee hee hee. They'll never know....
we have a new game coming.
Introducing brand new elements such as the United Nations, clashes between ideologies and the most complicated naval system I have ever heard of, East vs West looks set to become one of my favorite games ever. Just look at the videos that have been brought out for it:
So, it was instantly sold to me, due in huge part to that fact that my Paradox mega campaigns will now be able to go from the Middle Ages all the way to 1991, adding a whole new layer of alternate history.
This is on my wishlist, because its release is still anticipated. It began with “We’ll bring it out halfway through 2013.” The excitement boiled up, but the halfway point of this year came and went. Then “We’ll release it in the third quarter of 2013”, causing me to clear my calendar so that I would have enough time to play it. However, it soon moved to 2014 and then even to “the second quarter of 2014”. I know, I need to give Paradox time to do it properly, but I really want it, and I want it now.
Oh no! Everybody panic! East vs West has been delayed again!
6. Simcity Being Fixed Up
Why shouldn’t I include one of the largest gaming controversies of 2013 in here? All the other sites do it, and I won’t miss an opportunity to shout at EA. I’m a huge fan of the old Simcity franchise. The difficulty of building up a large city in Simcity 4 made it a very worthwhile strategy game, and it formed the childhoods of many avid strategy gamers. Then EA decided to produce a reboot, which, as seen by the undeniable “success” of other recent reboots, would only lead to a very painful bullet in the foot. The thing is that Simcity has the potential to become quite a good game, I think (I haven’t played it, as I will explain soon). Having several interconnected cities and upgradeable buildings seems like an intuitive step forward, but sadly there are quite a few problems that pose dozens of steps backwards.
It's a little known easteregg, but EA have
put themselves in the game...
This Christmas, as my sixth thing on the wishlist, I want Maxis to sit down with EA and tell them what they really think of them, before proceeding to fix up the game that EA had forced them to break, with EA shouting unrepeatable insults and trying to claw their way through the locked door. You see, Simcity can be fixed if only a few things are changed. Online DRM is the first thing that needs to go, and it is the main reason why I refuse to play it. Trying to play a game that you’ve bought with your hard-earned cash, only to be met with a screen that states the server is full must be frustrating. Online DRM isn’t needed, as proven by the countless people who have managed to crack Simcity and create an offline mode.
EA's reputation after online DRM.
The second thing that needs to be fixed this Christmas is the map sizes. From what I’ve heard, you barely get to fit anything in. Simcity needs larger map sizes to make the cities more spectacular. Another thing that would be nice is if the glass box engine actually acted as we all thought it would…
Tomorrow, part 2 will arrive (hopefully, although improbably, with a fanfare), where I will continue the countdown from 5 to 1. In the meantime, what do you wish for the strategy genre this Christmas?