Another month has passed and yet again, I’ve been cajoled into feeding more money into the monolithic maw of Paradox’s spreadsheet simulator empire. But as their coffers fill and mine empty at a frightening pace, I do genuinely have to wonder what I’ve forked out another £6 for.
For the uninitiated, Crusader Kings II is a strategy game where you take the head of a medieval dynasty and through conquest, marriage and the occasional well placed dagger, rise through the courts to command a world spanning empire. All the while contending with succession laws, the religious unity of your empire and attempting to bump off incompetent children in favour of your strong genius protege. Basically, just think Tywin Lannister simulator and you have Crusader Kings II.
So, what does Way of Life add to this? Not including the set of new events which are available to all players, the DLC has implemented additional character interactions which add greater depth to family and court aspect of the game. As well as this, an entirely new system with which you can pick a “character focus” seeks to increase player involvement with the personality of your ruler. For example, do you wish your leader to embody the virtues of levelheaded ruler ship? Of course you don’t, you’re going to pick seducer so you can become the medieval equivalent of Dapper Laughs; and if Paradox knows their market, fail as miserably in romantic endeavors as they would in real life.
…Erm, that’s it. Aside from 10 buttons which basically amount to stat increases and a couple of character decisions, this DLC doesn’t really offer much else. I understand this sort of flippant reductionism can be applied to nearly everything, but realistically for £6, you would expect something far more substantial. It can be argued that nearly almost every DLC Paradox develops effects the core gameplay to some degree, so you’re at least given the illusion of value for money. However, there’s an undeniable shallowness in this addition to the game; the alterations being merely cursory and there’s also a disappointing inability to deliver the much touted immersion it had pretensions to in the ad campaign.
Perhaps it is far too easy to be cynical about this sort of thing; you probably get as much out of this DLC as you’re willing to put into it. As has always been the case with Paradox’s minimalist graphics, the player base’s ability to conjure epic tales of lust and intrigue from perishingly little detail speaks volumes as to how far this DLC can be stretched. Yet, I can’t shake the feeling of being a child, where a grownup has promised me a spaceship for all my pocket money, but when I undertake the trade I’m given a cardboard box and told to “use your imagination”. Unfortunately, I wasn’t given my spaceship but at least I can spawn a litter of imaginary, incestuous progeny.