Achievements as Role Playing

I got back into Europa Universalis IV this weekend after finally buying the latest DLC. Part of what I’ve been doing the past two days is achievement hunting. In EU4, you have to play on Ironman mode where the game autosaves for you. So there’s no going back in case you make a bad decision or lose a war really badly.

Because of the game’s complexity, I’d avoided Ironman mode for a long time. I mean a loooong time. Over 400 hours worth of avoiding Ironman. I even uninstalled the game for a while, but I continued to watch Let’s Plays. So the past two days I’ve only played Ironman mode, and because I’m going for achievements, the game feels brand new to me. I think it’s because the achievement constraints force me to “roleplay” more than usual.

Like, in Crusader Kings II, you play as an individual with traits both good and bad. If as a player you want to “roleplay” you can rule your domain based on the traits the game gives your ruler. If your king is craven, then maybe you make it so they don’t lead knights into battle. Stuff like that.

Well in Europa Universalis IV, you’re playing in the era where conceptions of modern nation states came into being. No longer are you playing as an individual ruler, instead the player is their chosen country. If you want to be an aggressive warmonger there’s nothing stopping you (aside from the AI’s outrage).

The ability to save and reload meant that all my time playing in the past kind of ended up the same. The beginning of the campaign would be a little dicey, but by the mid and late games I’d be one of if not the strongest country in the world. I’d “blob out” in the words of the EU4 community. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but it can get boring.

The achievements make you play in certain ways, sometimes limiting your blobbing abilities or forcing you to grow in certain ways that normally you wouldn’t. For example, winning the 100 Year’s War as England, conquering Samarkand as Bengal, or avenging Hannibal by controlling the Mediterranean as Tunis. Some of the changes are incredibly difficult and I’m not skilled enough a player to beat them, but going for them sure brings a new sense of purpose back into this game.