Imperator: Rome, the latest game from grand strategy producers Paradox Interactive, was recently announced as launching on April 25th of this year. A sequel to 2008’s Europa Universalis: Rome, Imperator will pull us back earlier than the other historical strategy games from Paradox, to, you guessed it, the time of Rome’s rise to power.
Imperator borrows elements from some of Paradox’s other games, such as Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings. Like EU, you will play as one of over 400 nations, and will need to grow your country and lead it toward greatness over the centuries. Like CK, you will have to deal with actual people–people who might want to help you, and people who might want to kill you. While it won’t be to quite the same extent, Game Director Johan Anderson describes it as “Crusader Kings is the character game, [Imperator] is a game that has characters”, you’ll still need to pay attention to people if you want to get ahead.
Beyond people who you can interact with directly, Imperator also has pops that make up your civilization. Citizens, freemen, tribesmen, and slaves all provide you with different benefits and detriments, and can be upgraded to a higher status should the need arise. Military is more than just a couple different unit classes with different strengths and weaknesses, with some units restricted by location or resources. As cool as it would be, you’re probably not going to bear down on your enemies using elephant cavalry as Rome, unless you establish some really, really good trade with the Indian sub-continent. Navies return as well, although only a single type of ship is available, the trireme. Unlike the single ship type in Crusader Kings 2, however, navies are not just transportation machines. Ships can get into naval battles, or blockade ports to reduce trade value or speed up sieges. Since this time was so heavily focused on the Mediterranean and surrounding seas, naval battles feel like they could have a huge impact on the gameplay of Imperator.
As far as warfare goes, anyone who’s played a Paradox game before will know the deal. Wars are declared using cassus belli, or ‘reasons for war’, although no-CB wars can be declared at a significant penalty. Cassus belli can range from simply saying a piece of land belongs to your country, to supporting an ally, to helping a rebellion bring a nation down from inside. Once in a war, you’ll be trying to get your warscore up. 100% warscore is an undisputed win for you, while -100% means you lost, hard. Fulfilling the war goal, such as controlling a certain piece of land or showing your military superiority, will give you up to 25% warscore, with the rest coming from things like battles. Battles too will be familiar to Paradox players, with armies or navies battling until they run out of morale, at which point they’ll retreat, or until they run out of strength, at which point they’ll be killed or sunk. At the end of a war a truce will be established, between 5 and 15 years, depending on how badly the losing side was beaten. The truce can be broken, but major penalties will be inflicted, even more so than declaring without a cassus belli. Feel free to declare early if you’ve got a perfect opportunity that won’t last beyond the month, but do so at your own risk.
All of this will feel familiar to anyone who’s played Europa Universalis 4 or Crusader Kings 2, and yeah, Imperator does borrow a lot from Paradox’s other big titles. It’s not just a reskin/mix of the two games however, and feels like it’s going in its own direction, and I’m sure will do more so as the game expands. When will it feel more separate, and how separate will it be? Eh…that’s a tough one. Paradox games tend to change a lot after launch and, a bit frustratingly, usually have a fair amount of expansions. However, lots of the changes are also free, and Paradox is actually really good at improving the vanilla versions of their games years down the line. Crusader Kings 2 is approaching it’s seventh anniversary, and is still getting regular free updates along with the paid DLC for it. Heck, even the Civilization games, which you all know I love, can be pretty lackluster at launch. Furthermore, there’s lots of stuff I didn’t mention in this article. Yeah, the frame might be similar to other games, but it still feels like it’s going to be its own game. I hope that’s going to be the case, and I’m certainly looking forward to trying out the game. Imperator: Rome launches at the end of April, and then, Romae autem resurgemus.