Welcome to another development diary on Europa Universalis IV. This week we talk about the role of technology s, how to make your country rise above all others and how you should invest in knowledge to direct your nation to enlightenment. We have now grouped possible research avenues into three different fields of technology – Administrative, Diplomatic and Military, mirroring the attributes of your monarch and the monarch points that these attributes generate over time.
Each of these three fields will offer you 33 technologies to choose from and invest in.
Bear in mind that each technology that you choose to invest in will be utterly significant for your empire, and the technologies will each have names relevant to what they affect.
Science is not just a number anymore
How to invest in technology
Instead of investing part of your monthly income to gain new technology as in the previous iterations of the series, Europa Universalis IV uses your accumulated monarch power to spend on technological upgrades. This means that we avoid snowball effects, where a tech leader is able to use its advantage to maintain an ahistorical permanent advantage, and we can get away from those weird situations where a small minor power that sits and does nothing can become the tech leader simply because it has nothing else to spend its money on. This also makes it far easier to balance the value of technological progress for both the beginning and the endgame.
So, to get a new technology you simply press the button when you have earned enough power to take the next step up. We have an alert in place that tells you when you can spend that power, so that no technological progress goes to waste.
But there is still some of that trade off that was in place with the old slider system. Remember that monarch points are also used for other in game actions – diplomacy, increasing stability, constructing buildings, recruiting generals, etc. It's not always a matter of waiting until the cup runneth over so you can upgrade. You have to decide whether you want to spend those 100 points of administrative power now, for example on a bunch of courthouses, if it means waiting an extra year or two to get your technology advanced to the next level.
Now for a look at each of the three Technology groupings:
Are you a visionary leader with an eye improving your country's welfare? Administrative tech is the broad group that makes new government types available, increases your production efficiency and enables the construction of a wide range of different buildings, most of which are related to issues of stability and income. If you have a strong administrative ruler and invest money in hiring a talented administrative advisor, you can access new idea groups more quickly, thereby fine tuning your country into the type of empire you want to present to the world.
Feeling diplomatic and thinking that there are quieter ways to grow? Diplomatic technology is primarily related to interactions with other nations and far off lands. It is here that you will research technologies that will let you increase your trade efficiency, expand the range at which you can found new colonies, increase your diplomatic influence and, importantly, anything related to your naval power. The buildings you can construct that are in this technological group are trade and sea related, for the most part. Think of diplomatic technology as your soft power (except for the navy...) as you settle new land, grab control of trade nodes and build up diplomatic alliances.
Hungry for war? Military technology here focuses on improving the performance of your land forces. This technology field will give you access to new troop types, increase the morale of your armies, their maneuver and tactics and gives access to those buildings associated with warfare, including recruitment centers and fortresses. It's also tied to a few new mechanics we won't tell you about.. yet Suffice it to say, this is not a tech group that you can afford to fall behind in for long – it's a pretty dangerous world out there.
The Cost of Technology
Balancing the costs of technology is always tricky in an historical strategy game. You want to give the player the chance to make progress as regularly as possible. But if you take the historical setting as seriously as we do, then certain barriers have to be put in place before Frederick the Great is running around with a Glock strapped to his waist.
In Europa Universalis III, investing in technology could sometimes be extremely costly, punishingly so even. Poor nations in the New World belonged to a technology group that had zero chance of improvement unless the player was exceptionally skilled and able to take advantage of having a dangerous European neighbor. It could also be frustrating for people who liked to play the Ottomans or the Chinese and found themselves so far behind a tech curve that it seemed impossible to break into even near parity no matter how skilled your leaders or rich your country. This might be historically appropriate, but we think there are better ways to make non-Western European nations weaker but still give them a chance to do something besides wait and watch the tax numbers roll.
The new tech system in Europa Universalis IV is designed to make it easier for those players that play the poorer nations to gain some technologies so they feel some sense of progress, and it also improves gameplay for all non-European countries significantly.
When buying a new technology level, there is a base cost for each country of 400 power, no matter the category. This base cost is then modified by several factors, such as certain advisors, a neighbor bonus, certain ideas, etc. but the cost (before applying the penalty for researching a tech too far ahead of its historical year) is never larger than 999 – the maximum cap on your monarch power in a category.
Non-Western European technology groups still have a penalty on top of the base cost, so there will still be a greater chance that Western Europe will lead the world in science and military skill. But by keeping the cost before time penalty capped, there is a greater chance that well managed nations will not stagnate.
We're always hard at work improving our user interface and we've done the technology one so that it is as transparent as possible. You can see what buildings and abilities are waiting for you at each tech level and the effects that each will have. This will help a lot with long range planning. As usual, we made extensive use of tooltips to give you all the information you need about how each technology
So now we've given you a bit of a head start on how to think about technological progress within your empire and how you will manage the tools we give you to live long, prosper and stand out from the crowd. Science!
Speaking of science, what can you find that is new in this screenshot?
Next week, we take a look at the most eagerly awaited details on Europa Universalis IV...
Check this developer walk through with Besuchov: