Are the focus trees becoming too unnecessarily big and complex?

Are the focus trees becoming too unnecessarily big and complex?

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Zeprion

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This is not a topic to rant, I just wonder whether and how many people feel a similar way.

When the game was launched, personally, the base game's 7 focus trees were meh but at least they were a nice thing because they were a good addition from the otherwise plain and identical focus tree that the other nations have.
There were some balance problems, such as playing a minor nation, it was obvious you were going to go fascists for that huge much needed 7.00% manpower, the communist path was plain by comparison, with only some extra political power. And even some major fascist nations didn't have a focus tree so good as that 7.00% manpower.
As I understood it at that time: the fascists had the power, being a heavily militarized nation, the communist had the political power, often acting behind the scenes like they did in real life, the non-aligned was I guess kind of average, and the democratices would have disadvantages or debuffs due to their nation's people not being that willing to fight. Unsurprisingly, if you don't force the people to go to war, they won't want to go to war.
Then came the focus tree of Poland, who personally I feel that it was a dissapointment, as in, it had some nice bonuses, but overall the focus tree was forgettable.

And then the 2nd step in Hearts of Iron 4's evolution came: The Together for Victory and Death or Dishonor DLCs.
I enjoyed both of these DLCs. The focus trees started to become something more than a forgettable part of the experience.
At its core, I still believe Hoi4 should be mainly about how you organise your army before the war and how/where you move your troops during the war, a game about military strategy.
But the options of having more diplomatic choices were just great and I loved them.
It was simple yet flexible, you could intuitively understand all that focus tree, and it wasn't a difficult part to follow it, while still doing your own thing, in a way making it a good blend of sandbox game and not sandbox game.

Then came the 3rd step in Hearts of Iron 4's evolution, I'm calling it a step because I believe this is where significant changes happened to the core gameplay.
While I disliked some additions of both Marshals and Generals being needed, due to extra micromanagement reasons, and the upgrade tree for Generals, due to feeling so very unrealistic, overall I liked the areas of the game it touched and the nations picked to gain new focus trees.
The war in Asia was amazing, while previously a forgettable experience, it made it as fun as the war in Europe to this day, and due to its novelty at the time, it was more fun to fight in Asia than in Europe. And the "Oppose Hitler" path was also an amazing addition.
When it comes to Man the Guns, I can't say I would have picked Mexico myself, but it turned out a fun focus tree to play, considering that you have to keep in check your stability so that your country won't revolt. Same for Netherlands, great choice, a bit of a stretch with the "minor democractices factions" but alternative history is alternative history, if you don't want it, don't play it.

And then came what I believe is the 4th step in Hearts of Iron 4's evolution: La Ressistance and this next DLC.
The espionage part was something the community requested even before Together for Victory was launched, and the developers delivered.
Some would call it an "extra micromanagement system", like the government system of USA, and well, it kind of is an extra micromanagement system, but how else would you want spies without extra micromanagement? If you would have nothing to do, then why add this spy system in the first place? Moreover, it's completly optional, if you play as a minor nation you can simply be not that interested in intelligence and simply focus on the army.
But it's the focus trees that I found a little bit, too much and at the same time too separate. A lot of people complained about Japan's new focus tree in Waking the Tiger as being too rigid and overall the worst focus tree in the entire game. Because you basically had 4 paths that you could choose from day 1: go communist, go fascist, go non-aligned and go democratic. Despite being being, I feel that Portugal, Spain and France's new focus trees are ultimately that way too. With France having an extra game mechanic of communist revolution if you drop below 25% stability, even though the communists end up having 0% party popularity.
I don't think many people would say that La Ressistance was their favourite DLC as far as focus trees are concerned. The spies, some like it, some don't, but the focus trees, pretty much everyone I talked to seem to agree that they have been a dissapointment, with way too much unnecessary stuff and too rigid too simple "yes or no" kind of choices, despite a Spanish focus tree being long expected. Even Portugal is basically a huge focus tree with 4 barely interconnected paths.
And some are forced choices. Some players complained that Japan's non-aligned path includes a forced non-aggression pact with USSR. What if you don't want to make a non-aggression pact with USSR? In the same sense. Portugal's choice of communism, democracy or fascism is tied to their choices of support in the Spanish civil war. I get that the Spanish Civil War was a big thing for Portugal, but what if you don't want to take any sides but still go communist or still go fascist? It seems like a choice that was ultimately deined by the structure of the focus tree. They could have easily made a focus tree branch for "who you want to support in the war?".
Some things like supporting the fascists as a communist state may be exaggerated. Although in an alternative history scenario, if Germany makes an alliance with USSR, you are in faction with Germany and the nationalsits have already lost the civil war, you may support that one too. But even with the most extreme cases out of the question, it makes sense of you to choose either whether you want to get involved in the civil war supporting one particular side, or stay out of it, even if from purely a lore perspective.
This overall leads to less flexibility in the focus tree making it less of a focus tree and more of a predefined path tree.

And I'm not going to point any fingers because it's way too early to judge, the new DLC isn't even out yet and I didn't even play it. I, of course, could be very wrong about the direction I think the new DLC is heading. But it already looks big, and the core problem isn't whether the focus tree is big or not, the core problem is whether the focus tree is or isn't flexible. Personally, I liked the focus trees from Walking the Tiger and Man the Guns the best, they were bigger than Together for Victory and Death or Dishonor while having their own particularities, making the country feel like playing a completly different country from a standard focus tree one. But at the same time they weren't too big so that you would get lost on them, with unnecessary focuses just for the sake of increasing its size, and the parts of the focus trees were intertwined, making it easy to create your own favoruite scenario, with the only notable exception being Japan.

I believe that a good focus tree is one allowing the player to make as many choice as possible while not being unnecessarily big and complex, by using different variations of picked focuses from different branches, such as, you could go fascist buy stay neutral, unlikely given that you started Hearts of Iron 4 to play it, but you get the point. I hope that the focus trees don't become too big and at the same time the paths too separate from one another, making it overall less flexible.

I get that ultimately personal preference is subjective, but what do you think about all of this?
 
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Dlin369

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We'll basically have to see - it looks like there are other factions you have to deal with even if you go down the other branches of the focus tree, which will be interesting to deal with.

I think the big change to focus tree size and approach in HOI4 is driven by the modding community, which have really pushed the limits to what focus trees and decisions can do, meaning the dev for the base game need to do the same in order to compete

Edit: I don't see this as a bad thing though - if anything I thing it improves the flavor of each focus tree
 
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TalyonUngol

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Well I mean, the issue with smaller trees is you burn through them so quickly you're stuck just doing the continous focuses. Italy's tree runs into this problem really quickly. I actually like the complex trees. It forces me to make a choice and decide what path to play instead of having a couple paths. Mexico forces you into really just one path at the end of the day itself. Conquering the South Americans and then dying to America cause you try to take them over. hahaha
 
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Problem is though with these large trees is that there is a lot of filler which is just wastes time during the 1938 -1942 phase, which is imo where the game is decided most of the time. Countries like Anarchist Spain sound like an interesting choice but because of all the filler in its tree (multiple focuses for War support on a nation that maintains 100% why?)

By the Time you get to the meat of the tree its 1942 and the game is nearly over.


Italys tree might be small but it serves its purpose well, few focuses are uselfull and straightforward and I can go for multiple choices with it too (agressive vs supportive Italy)

Its also great that you are not tied to an ideology and can flip if you want. something that will no doubt be taken once it gets a bigger tree.
 
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Jays298

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I have a sense that France doesn't play right by the AI and that nothing will get "fixed" unless I get La Resistance (which changes things for France) but I don't really want anything to do with espionage. Vichy is overpowered, like they have tank divisions to oppose the allies!. The German AI never triggers Case Anton that I can tell. And the French always go communist at some point which is stupid.

I think the complexity level is ok, just that some trees are just broken as you say. French changing governements after 1940, Italian tree not having government requirements for its war focuses, Japan going after the axis if they hold the Dutch Indies.. My last game there was a people's republic of Romania in the Axis!

I'd argue the game needs more complexity but only where it adds the gameplay.

The mods that make things more complex / less "balanced", more realistic are moving in the right direction.
 

TalyonUngol

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Problem is though with these large trees is that there is a lot of filler which is just wastes time during the 1938 -1942 phase, which is imo where the game is decided most of the time. Countries like Anarchist Spain sound like an interesting choice but because of all the filler in its tree (multiple focuses for War support on a nation that maintains 100% why?)

By the Time you get to the meat of the tree its 1942 and the game is nearly over.


Italys tree might be small but it serves its purpose well, few focuses are uselfull and straightforward and I can go for multiple choices with it too (agressive vs supportive Italy)

Its also great that you are not tied to an ideology and can flip if you want. something that will no doubt be taken once it gets a bigger tree.
True, Italys small tree does help it get to the meat of the game, but it still could use alot more focuses and better ones. Its tree is severely outdated like the soviets.
 

Iskulya

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Nope. The kind of focus trees that they have unveiled with Greece and Bulgaria are pretty great in my opinion and if they keep producing this kind of content for future DLCs I'll probably keep buying them.

If anything, the problem is the opposite. These new focus trees are making some of the older ones like with Romania and Yugoslavia look extremely sloppy and boring in comparison. It's also a shame because countries that had a lot more relevance to the world and the war like India and Canada will never see the kind of content befitting their status because they already got content in older DLCs.

The biggest issue I see is that a lot of focus trees really don't play well with other countries if they go down their own alternate history paths. A lot of things usually get broken or develop in a nonsensical way. The Greek and Bulgarian trees seem a little better in this respect and have more flexibility, but the problem remains.

That's just as far as the focus trees themselves go. The game itself still has some broader issues that make it frustrating as just about any major or minor. I'm thinking of the AI's complete inability to work within supply constraints, but that's another subject entirely.

Problem is though with these large trees is that there is a lot of filler which is just wastes time during the 1938 -1942 phase, which is imo where the game is decided most of the time. Countries like Anarchist Spain sound like an interesting choice but because of all the filler in its tree (multiple focuses for War support on a nation that maintains 100% why?)

By the Time you get to the meat of the tree its 1942 and the game is nearly over.
I don't know what you are talking about.

The Spanish focus tree is about the exact opposite of what you're saying. The tree itself is big, but the specific branches for the side you pick in the civil war are quite small. For any of the Republican factions you can be *completely finished* with your entire focus tree by the end of 1941 or there about. So far from "just getting to the meat" in 1942, you'll actually have 100% finished the focus tree entirely by then. The only way you won't have finished your focus tree by then is if you did really bad in the civil war and took far longer than needed to finish it, as a number of focuses require the civil war to be finished.
 
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Are the focus trees becoming too unnecessarily big and complex?

Damn right brother!!!!
<In the same time adds extra foci to French focus tree to make game more historical>
What?
I can stop whenever I want, let me just add that one more focus to summon demons :)
 

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The grandest focus tree ever created has been Spain. I believe Spain is the biggest focus tree because it is technically two in one, with 3-4 grand paths in each version.

The two newest focus trees have not been the scale of Spain, and thus have not become too "unnecessarily big and complex"

Bulgaria and Greece have both been at or below the size of Netherlands and Mexico, both focus trees granted in "man the guns"

The evolution of focus trees have been rather interesting, from "hey what about this" to "This is what would railroaded happen" comparing "death and dishonor" to "Balkan pack"

Regardless to say the narrative has shifted dramatically to tell the player character a story, if Boris was eliminated as the monarchy, this, this, and this would happen. This is in comparison to the old DLCs of "hey democratic king elected" balkan entente now.
 
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Mr_Dimento

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I wrote a 7 hour written review about this game awhile back. I am unsure if you read it or not but I talked about this.
 

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While I, personally, don't mind their complexity, they could use better navigation options, and revisions/expansion on per-DLC basis (as new features come in). Although, they do seem too complex for devs to implement properly, if amount of bugs is any indication (thankfully, mostly alt-history edge-cases for now).
 
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Idk for you, but I absolutely love huge complex trees, since you have multiple stuff to do with it. Like, Spain you can have more ways to play. France can get more powerful than before. UK is great as it is now, just main problem is that historical route focuses are a bit useless. Japan is more in depth, but idk, I don't like play him. Idk why people hate Big focus trees, like when some guy said that it would be better if Germany had generic tree, because 7%population is bigger than Austria and Czechoslovakia combined. I hate generic tree.
 
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It's all about meaningful choices.
If it's big, at least the choices are there. Whether it's meaningful, it depends... :p
 
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GSP Jr

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Some of the newer ones do seem oversized, until you realize that after the initial choice, 2/3 of the tree is blocked.
 

bitmode

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The focus trees are the main value proposition of DLC and I think making them somewhat larger just ensures that more players find within them whatever they were hoping for. If you look at for example the selling points of TfV, half of the non-NF points were criticized for being DLC locked.

And I think that many players also want a "sandbox" experience that still has a story to it, which favors more focuses both in width and depth. There are other ways of story-telling in the game like events and decisions etc. but they are not as easily discoverable and thus do not translate into sales as easily.
 

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This is not a topic to rant, I just wonder whether and how many people feel a similar way.

When the game was launched, personally, the base game's 7 focus trees were meh but at least they were a nice thing because they were a good addition from the otherwise plain and identical focus tree that the other nations have.
There were some balance problems, such as playing a minor nation, it was obvious you were going to go fascists for that huge much needed 7.00% manpower, the communist path was plain by comparison, with only some extra political power. And even some major fascist nations didn't have a focus tree so good as that 7.00% manpower.
As I understood it at that time: the fascists had the power, being a heavily militarized nation, the communist had the political power, often acting behind the scenes like they did in real life, the non-aligned was I guess kind of average, and the democratices would have disadvantages or debuffs due to their nation's people not being that willing to fight. Unsurprisingly, if you don't force the people to go to war, they won't want to go to war.
Then came the focus tree of Poland, who personally I feel that it was a dissapointment, as in, it had some nice bonuses, but overall the focus tree was forgettable.

And then the 2nd step in Hearts of Iron 4's evolution came: The Together for Victory and Death or Dishonor DLCs.
I enjoyed both of these DLCs. The focus trees started to become something more than a forgettable part of the experience.
At its core, I still believe Hoi4 should be mainly about how you organise your army before the war and how/where you move your troops during the war, a game about military strategy.
But the options of having more diplomatic choices were just great and I loved them.
It was simple yet flexible, you could intuitively understand all that focus tree, and it wasn't a difficult part to follow it, while still doing your own thing, in a way making it a good blend of sandbox game and not sandbox game.

Then came the 3rd step in Hearts of Iron 4's evolution, I'm calling it a step because I believe this is where significant changes happened to the core gameplay.
While I disliked some additions of both Marshals and Generals being needed, due to extra micromanagement reasons, and the upgrade tree for Generals, due to feeling so very unrealistic, overall I liked the areas of the game it touched and the nations picked to gain new focus trees.
The war in Asia was amazing, while previously a forgettable experience, it made it as fun as the war in Europe to this day, and due to its novelty at the time, it was more fun to fight in Asia than in Europe. And the "Oppose Hitler" path was also an amazing addition.
When it comes to Man the Guns, I can't say I would have picked Mexico myself, but it turned out a fun focus tree to play, considering that you have to keep in check your stability so that your country won't revolt. Same for Netherlands, great choice, a bit of a stretch with the "minor democractices factions" but alternative history is alternative history, if you don't want it, don't play it.

And then came what I believe is the 4th step in Hearts of Iron 4's evolution: La Ressistance and this next DLC.
The espionage part was something the community requested even before Together for Victory was launched, and the developers delivered.
Some would call it an "extra micromanagement system", like the government system of USA, and well, it kind of is an extra micromanagement system, but how else would you want spies without extra micromanagement? If you would have nothing to do, then why add this spy system in the first place? Moreover, it's completly optional, if you play as a minor nation you can simply be not that interested in intelligence and simply focus on the army.
But it's the focus trees that I found a little bit, too much and at the same time too separate. A lot of people complained about Japan's new focus tree in Waking the Tiger as being too rigid and overall the worst focus tree in the entire game. Because you basically had 4 paths that you could choose from day 1: go communist, go fascist, go non-aligned and go democratic. Despite being being, I feel that Portugal, Spain and France's new focus trees are ultimately that way too. With France having an extra game mechanic of communist revolution if you drop below 25% stability, even though the communists end up having 0% party popularity.
I don't think many people would say that La Ressistance was their favourite DLC as far as focus trees are concerned. The spies, some like it, some don't, but the focus trees, pretty much everyone I talked to seem to agree that they have been a dissapointment, with way too much unnecessary stuff and too rigid too simple "yes or no" kind of choices, despite a Spanish focus tree being long expected. Even Portugal is basically a huge focus tree with 4 barely interconnected paths.
And some are forced choices. Some players complained that Japan's non-aligned path includes a forced non-aggression pact with USSR. What if you don't want to make a non-aggression pact with USSR? In the same sense. Portugal's choice of communism, democracy or fascism is tied to their choices of support in the Spanish civil war. I get that the Spanish Civil War was a big thing for Portugal, but what if you don't want to take any sides but still go communist or still go fascist? It seems like a choice that was ultimately deined by the structure of the focus tree. They could have easily made a focus tree branch for "who you want to support in the war?".
Some things like supporting the fascists as a communist state may be exaggerated. Although in an alternative history scenario, if Germany makes an alliance with USSR, you are in faction with Germany and the nationalsits have already lost the civil war, you may support that one too. But even with the most extreme cases out of the question, it makes sense of you to choose either whether you want to get involved in the civil war supporting one particular side, or stay out of it, even if from purely a lore perspective.
This overall leads to less flexibility in the focus tree making it less of a focus tree and more of a predefined path tree.

And I'm not going to point any fingers because it's way too early to judge, the new DLC isn't even out yet and I didn't even play it. I, of course, could be very wrong about the direction I think the new DLC is heading. But it already looks big, and the core problem isn't whether the focus tree is big or not, the core problem is whether the focus tree is or isn't flexible. Personally, I liked the focus trees from Walking the Tiger and Man the Guns the best, they were bigger than Together for Victory and Death or Dishonor while having their own particularities, making the country feel like playing a completly different country from a standard focus tree one. But at the same time they weren't too big so that you would get lost on them, with unnecessary focuses just for the sake of increasing its size, and the parts of the focus trees were intertwined, making it easy to create your own favoruite scenario, with the only notable exception being Japan.

I believe that a good focus tree is one allowing the player to make as many choice as possible while not being unnecessarily big and complex, by using different variations of picked focuses from different branches, such as, you could go fascist buy stay neutral, unlikely given that you started Hearts of Iron 4 to play it, but you get the point. I hope that the focus trees don't become too big and at the same time the paths too separate from one another, making it overall less flexible.

I get that ultimately personal preference is subjective, but what do you think about all of this?
Im happy with the big trees. It happens often enough that i run out of focuses to do in a game.
 

Farquarsen

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I am not too concerned with the size but the interactions between the new trees and the old trees. I am also concerned about how the AI handles the different choices users make and it makes for the countries it controls. I have seen some really weird outcomes when either you choose historical paths for the AI and you go down a rabbit hole or you choose ahistorical paths for it and you do either historical or ahistorical. My other concern is the devs will spend too much time on the focus trees and not enough on the mechanics of the game. The air mechanics still need work so that carriers become the dominant force in the Navy and interception actually occurs before the assigned theatre of operation is reached by the aircraft.
 
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