Crusader Kings II is one of my all time favourite games. I am always a stickler for strategy games, but this game is on par with the early total war series in both enjoyment, and re-playability value. In fact, I have sunk in 674 hours into this game as I write this article, and I am certain this is not the last time I play this absolutely excellent grand strategy game.
This game truly is enthralling. It draws you in to play more, and every event that happens to your character, good or bad reinforced the need to continue managing your empire, expand your influence and grow your power. The amount of options, random events and possibilities of both success or failure are endless, and this is really the core of the re-playability, as each time you play, even with the same character, completely different things can happen.
It does not baby you either, giving the player complete control over everything, from the military, to the economy, to politics and espionage. The more time you invest in the game, the more ways you find to defeat your enemies, or in turn be defeated yourself.
This is where I mention one of the annoyances of the Crusader Kings II game – the DLC. Originally released in 2012, the game has been in active development to this day, and will be for the foreseeable future. Most games stop being developed after one or two years, but partly because of its own success, Crusader Kings is still going, and that is great in many ways – much of the content released has been a huge benefit to the base game, and I would recommend at least picking up Charlemagne and The Old Gods DLC before playing, but after a while it does get a little expensive, especially when Paradox Interactive is selling the Unit Packs and Music Packs separate.
That being said, once you have put as many hours in as I have, the DLC is a refreshing bonus that does help spice up a game you’ve been playing for years. But the expensive is definitely a bit of a disappointment, even if it does not directly affect the vanilla game, which you can now pick up extremely cheaply.
One aspect I have yet to mention is that the game is multiplayer. This adds a whole other dimension which can really help make the game unforgettable. Playing cooperatively or against friends is always fun, but if you have found the AI not to be aggressive enough, or just want to pit your wits against someone else, the online multiplayer lobby is a great source of challenge, and still very active today – although it is worth mentioning that games tend to go on for multiple sessions and can take hours and hours to come to a conclusion!
So, Crusader Kings II, one of my most favourite PC titles, is an all around exceptional game once you have all the DLC, but even without it is an engaging, elaborate and re-playable game that any grand strategy veteran will find themselves coming back to again and again. Honestly, a great game overall.