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This is not a rant nor a review, but simply, the opinion of a long time fan, about CK3 after playing 6 campaigns since release. First of all, I am a big fan of CK2, it is probably one of my favorite games of all time. I bought CK2 when Sons of Abraham just came out so I don't know what its state was at release, but I was always impressed by how each playthrough was so unique. No matter who you played, there was always a good story waiting for you mixed with interesting strategic challenges. It is one of those games that even after 1000 hours still surprises you.

I have always been reluctant to post my thoughts on CK3, because PDX games are huge and it's difficult to immediately express your thoughts about it. I however like to say that I'm a bit disappointed with how CK3 turned out, and it went in a direction that doesn't really suit me. The only real improvement in CK3 in my opinion are the 3D portraits. These simply look amazing and it is impressive how a random character generator is able to spawn, realistic-looking characters that all look unique. They also significantly help the role-playing aspect of the game. Sadly I can't say the same for the map graphics and interface, which both look very bland.

Sadly I feel that there isn't a 'game' anymore around these RPG mechanics. People keep praising CK3 for the role-playing, but it always felt restricted in the form of random events. Frankly, I think random events should be a 'nice-to-have' and not the backbone of the game. Random events are extremely limited, they feel forced and they get old very quickly. I just don't get excited by reading the same thing 5 times. To be fair CK2 also suffered from this but there were still a lot of interesting strategic challenges to overcome, so the game remained interesting. The role-playing aspects gave context to your campaign, but they weren't the reason why I played a campaign. I don't feel like I am playing a game anymore about managing my kingdom where stories form dynamically. I feel now that I'm playing a game where a story is generated through random events.

You may be puzzled because the mechanics present in CK2 are still in CK3, but they have all been streamlined so much that there not very interesting anymore. Warfare has become incredibly easy once you understand the skill trees. Not only is the rally system a huge downgrade, but it is way too easy to overpower everyone in the game. If you understand you know that is now very easy to form alliances and abuse mercenaries due to stewardship and diplomacy skill trees. I never felt threatened by the AI after learning the skill trees. The skill trees themselves are also not really interesting gameplay-wise, you just wait till you unlock a new perk, or get a bonus through random events. This is even made worse by the fact that Cassus Belli's cost a lot of prestige and piety mana now, and there are not enough ways to increase them except for unlocking perks in the skill trees or doing a decision every 5-10 years. My strategy in CK3 is 90% of the time 'wait until I unlock this, so I can do this' out of all the PDX games, CK3 feels the most like a waiting game. It also is way too easy, in all 6 of my playthroughs, it was shockingly easy to conquer huge chunks of the map without any anti-blob mechanics. I for example conquered all of France and Iberia with a single character, and I didn't even really use a strategy aside from waiting to unlock my next cassus belli. Even my campaign to restore Zoroastrian Persia was pretty easy, with almost no strategy involved.

The internal politics are also too easy to manage right now. On paper things sound great, you have now dread mechanics which allows different playstyles, the RNG element of plots and revolts is more restricted, and the player is stuck with partition succession for most of the game. In practice, this just doesn't work out. Plots are way too easy to pull off right now, eliminating the risk of executing them. Characters are way less likely to start a civil war, making it easy to go through the game without a single civil war and revolts are laughably easy to deal with because the element of surprise is gone and they have also been nerfed, making them almost never a threat.

I'm also disappointed that the biggest flaws of CK2 haven't been addressed in this game. Cultures still almost play no role in the game, no having them mixed with tech doesn't make them realistic or interesting... Warfare and peace deals in CK are the weakest out of all the PDX games, but instead of improving it they have downgraded it. There is no economic system, and also not a real sense of progression in building up your nation unlike in for ex. Imperator Rome or Stellaris.

The fact that there are still a lot of mechanics missing that were present in CK2 doesn't help. This is 100% understandable because CK3 in its first year can't compete with CK2 who had years of DLC, but it still feels like I'm playing a lesser version of something better making it hard to enjoy the game.

I am very happy for the fans and Paradox that CK3 is experiencing a lot of success. And I was very excited to see it nominated for several Game of the Year awards. It's a joy to see that Crusader Kings is now finally getting the attention it deserves from mainstream gamers. I'm just a little bit disappointed that I feel alienated from the community because for me Crusader Kings II was great for its mix between strategy and role-playing. Now however it feels like a story generator, and the strategy elements aren't the focus of the game anymore. Maybe future patches and expansions will change my view on CK3, but I don't think I will ever return to the game in its current state.
 
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qer

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I haven't bought CkIII nor intend to do it because it doesn't appeal to me; however I wouldn't call CK2 hard by any metric, specially with DLC that make the game easier and easier (artifacts, societies, life focuses , just keep adding bonuses after bonuses).
 
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My personal opinion as someone who also played CK2 a lot: CK3 is a clear improvement in pretty much all aspects except for content, which is understandable when comparing a game with years of DLC to a game that just came out. However, it also inherited a lot of the problems of CK2, as you have described.

Yes, it is very easy to steamroll the AI currently, particularly with the use of skill trees. I would also like it if it could put up more of a challenge, particularly once you are already a big realm, but this was also a problem in CK2. I hope that there will be anti-blobbing mechanics eventually.

I am also not under the impression that waiting around for random events is a bigger part of CK3 than it was in CK2. Quite the opposite actually.
 
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zaboli

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I haven't bought CkIII nor intend to do it because it doesn't appeal to me; however I wouldn't call CK2 hard by any metric, specially with DLC that make the game easier and easier (artifacts, societies, life focuses , just keep adding bonuses after bonuses).
Ck2 isn't hard but it the strategic gameolay is interesting, because the player has a lot of choice in how he approaches a situation. I stand by my opinion that Ck3 is for a majority of the time a waiting game.
 
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Ezumiyr

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If you played CK2 for the map painting, maybe you weren't a good player to begin with.
Soon after the release of CK3 I saw a lot of "CK2 fans" complaining that CK3 was too easy... in many cases, it's simply that CK3 explained better how it worked, and they simply didn't understand how CK2 worked, making the game hard for them.
The mechanics of CK3 aren't streamlined compared to CK2's. They are better explained. And actually more complex, and more fun. CK2 has simplistic games mechanics made complicated by the need to go through several menus to interact with them.

I loved CK2 and played the game almost since release. But let's be fair: it's an extremely repetitive game, and the only non-repetitive parts are the dynamic storytelling that comes from dynasty building and the AI doing AI things on the map. CK3 heavily enhances dynasty building, and it also makes playiung a character much, much more interesting as you aren't just hoarding the good traits. I could go on with all the things CK3 does objectively better than CK2, but you see my point: idealizing CK2 shouldn't make CK3 worse in your mind. The issue isn't that the game is bad, it's that your view is biased.
 
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zaboli

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My personal opinion as someone who also played CK2 a lot: CK3 is a clear improvement in pretty much all aspects except for content, which is understandable when comparing a game with years of DLC to a game that just came out. However, it also inherited a lot of the problems of CK2, as you have described.

Yes, it is very easy to steamroll the AI currently, particularly with the use of skill trees. I would also like it if it could put up more of a challenge, particularly once you are already a big realm, but this was also a problem in CK2. I hope that there will be anti-blobbing mechanics eventually.

I am also not under the impression that waiting around for random events is a bigger part of CK3 than it was in CK2. Quite the opposite actually.
I respect your opinion but I simply don't agree. I experienced almost everything as a downgrade compared to CK2 except for the 3d portraits. CK2 wasn't hard but the game kept throwing stuff at you to overcome, in Ck3 everything feels just a lot more passive in terms of realm management. the ai is rarely more powerful than you, so it doesn't really matter in the long run that they are more likely to declare war on you.
 
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If you played CK2 for the map painting, maybe you weren't a good player to begin with.
Soon after the release of CK3 I saw a lot of "CK2 fans" complaining that CK3 was too easy... in many cases, it's simply that CK3 explained better how it worked, and they simply didn't understand how CK2 worked, making the game hard for them.
The mechanics of CK3 aren't streamlined compared to CK2's. They are better explained. And actually more complex, and more fun. CK2 has simplistic games mechanics made complicated by the need to go through several menus to interact with them.

I loved CK2 and played the game almost since release. But let's be fair: it's an extremely repetitive game, and the only non-repetitive parts are the dynamic storytelling that comes from dynasty building and the AI doing AI things on the map. CK3 heavily enhances dynasty building, and it also makes playiung a character much, much more interesting as you aren't just hoarding the good traits. I could go on with all the things CK3 does objectively better than CK2, but you see my point: idealizing CK2 shouldn't make CK3 worse in your mind. The issue isn't that the game is bad, it's that your view is biased.
I could also map paint in CK2. Especially with the way you could invite claimants, which is for the better harder to do in Ck3. My complaint isn't that Ck3 is too easy, but that there aren't many ways to approach a situation aside from waiting to gain prestige and piety mana. Sure you could also scheme your way through a kingdom and eventually get a claim but then I also have to wait to unlock perks in the skill tree.

Everything feels railroaded, I don't know if that's because I'm biased but I just don't enjoy Ck3. Everything just feels so bland.. And even after doing huge things like reforming Zoroastrianism I never feel like I accomplished anything. Maybe it is because I don't like the art style or maybe the wow effect is gone after playing CK2 too much, but I just can't find enjoyment in Ck3 the way other players do.
 
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fodazd

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I also am currently not playing CK3. Not because I think it's bad, but because I am waiting for the next update, like I often do with paradox games once I have played them enough for a time. I suspect that part of the problem is that there isn't really *that much* to do other than expanding by declaring wars. CK2 had Societies, a lot more random events, raiding adventurers, more laws that you could pass, diseases, chinese interactions, artifacts, etc. In short, it had a lot more content to give you something to do while you are not expanding. Maybe this increased variety prevents some people from seeing that all the mechanics that CK3 *does* have are a lot better than what CK2 had. Try playing CK2 without any DLCs sometime and then compare that to CK3, and you might see what I mean.
 
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guglik0

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I also am currently not playing CK3. Not because I think it's bad, but because I am waiting for the next update, like I often do with paradox games once I have played them enough for a time. I suspect that part of the problem is that there isn't really *that much* to do other than expanding by declaring wars. CK2 had Societies, a lot more random events, raiding adventurers, more laws that you could pass, diseases, chinese interactions, artifacts, etc. In short, it had a lot more content to give you something to do while you are not expanding. Maybe this increased variety prevents some people from seeing that all the mechanics that CK3 *does* have are a lot better than what CK2 had. Try playing CK2 without any DLCs sometime and then compare that to CK3, and you might see what I mean.

Although it is true that we should not judge CK3 too hards for its lack of content since it is indeed in its early stage by PDX standards. I however really dislike the argument that is often used on this forum that the release version of CK3 is much better than the CK2 release version. I mean I am not a game developer, but isn't it silly to compare a 2012 release to a 2020 release? CK3 looks beautiful, nobody doubts that PDX has done an amazing job in terms of design. It is just that I find it very sad that such fundamental aspects of CK2 like societies, epidemic mechanics or even simply regency mechanics are not present in CK3. And yes, I know that they were all added as DLCs, but still. Is PDX really planning to release the same DLCs for CK3 , as they did for CK2?
 
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johnnybgood89

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I must add that performance is huge improvement also.

I played yesterday, my great king died and bam, muslim declared war against my son - 10k vs 4k army, exit to desktop... :D
 
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johnnybgood89

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Also, they need to add more game rules and more difficulties in between for the different skilled players.
 
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zaboli

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Although it is true that we should not judge CK3 too hards for its lack of content since it is indeed in its early stage by PDX standards. I however really dislike the argument that is often used on this forum that the release version of CK3 is much better than the CK2 release version. I mean I am not a game developer, but isn't it silly to compare a 2012 release to a 2020 release? CK3 looks beautiful, nobody doubts that PDX has done an amazing job in terms of design. It is just that I find it very sad that such fundamental aspects of CK2 like societies, epidemic mechanics or even simply regency mechanics are not present in CK3. And yes, I know that they were all added as DLCs, but still. Is PDX really planning to release the same DLCs for CK3 , as they did for CK2?

It's just hard to compare it. I'm not a game developer but I know that Paradox cares about its fanbase and they will undoubtedly have included all the features if they could have done it.

However, I am an expert in customer satisfaction. I'm a consultant in customer satisfaction irl and I know that in the eyes of the customer it can be quite a let down to just play a graphically superior watered-down version of an older game. They made the right decision to focus more on the characters, better-written events, and the meme-like antics like having a nudist religion because the game is doing very well. Unfortunately, I'm just one of the people who wished that the strategic aspects were reworked, and that's why I'm writing this because there are lot of people like me who feel alienated by the direction the game is going.

Am I saying that they should abandon their vision? No, absolutely not! But should their future expansions also focus on people who like the more strategic aspects of CK? Yes.
 
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Why is it silly to compare a 2012 release to a 2020 release?
Well, I guess (and it is indeed a guess, because as I said, I am not a game developer) because PDX is now a bigger company, with more resources available to them and there are more development options available to them in comparison to 2012. Plus, throughout the development of CK2, they saw which DLCs were more popular among players and which mechanics worked well, so perhaps they could have included those into the base CK3. I mean even the little things like minor titles or artifacts are not present in CK3. In my personal opinion, it would be more correct to compare the final version of CK2 with the release version of CK3.

Now don't get me wrong. I hugely enjoyed playing CK3 and got 400+ hours from it since release which is more than one gets from most games. So It can be said that PDX have developed a very good game with a huge potential for future content.
 
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Overall, I am very impressed from CK3. I agree that it could feel a little denser when it comes to the events, decisions and roleplaying, but I am sure that future updates and DLCs will add to this. I mean....you have to bring the game to market at a point.....and that is ok.

I can't play CK2 anymore....the main reason is the look and feel of the new game. I really fell in love with the 3D characters...it just adds so much more atmosphere. But more important are two other features that make CK2 unplayable for me now:

1. STRESS: I love the stress feature. In CK2 you can play each character basically the same way. Well, some are better in some stuff than others, but generally speaking I can constantly act against my character traits in CK2 without real consequences. I love that in CK3 I have to think twice in many situations. For example as a forgiving charcacter: can I still execute a couple of prisoner in order to increase my Dread level in order to keep my vassals in check and prevent them from joining factions? Or would this cause a stress break-down? I love this added complexity to the role playing aspect. I makes it more interesting since it forces me (to some degree) to play characters with different attributes differently. But it never feels to punishing neither.....there are enough stress reducing events or decision. but you can't go crazy and play constantly against your characters attributes.

2. Hook System: This also adds quite a bit of depth to the game and opens up so many more ways to play this game. Playing CK2 without the hook system feels bland and empty.

Please Paradox....don't change CK3 and make it more like CK2.....CK2 is great....and it is still available and whoever prefers it can still play it. Make CK3 denser and more eventful but don't change the main game mechanics....those a pretty good. There is a reason why CK# is rating as good as it does in pretty much any gaming review out there. I haven't scientifically checked this but it feels like it might be the highest (in average) reviewed game of 2020. Congrats by the way!
 
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Overall, I am very impressed from CK3. I agree that it could feel a little denser when it comes to the events, decisions and roleplaying, but I am sure that future updates and DLCs will add to this. I mean....you have to bring the game to market at a point.....and that is ok.

I can't play CK2 anymore....the main reason is the look and feel of the new game. I really fell in love with the 3D characters...it just adds so much more atmosphere. But more important are two other features that make CK2 unplayable for me now:

1. STRESS: I love the stress feature. In CK2 you can play each character basically the same way. Well, some are better in some stuff than others, but generally speaking I can constantly act against my character traits in CK2 without real consequences. I love that in CK3 I have to think twice in many situations. For example as a forgiving charcacter: can I still execute a couple of prisoner in order to increase my Dread level in order to keep my vassals in check and prevent them from joining factions? Or would this cause a stress break-down? I love this added complexity to the role playing aspect. I makes it more interesting since it forces me (to some degree) to play characters with different attributes differently. But it never feels to punishing neither.....there are enough stress reducing events or decision. but you can't go crazy and play constantly against your characters attributes.

2. Hook System: This also adds quite a bit of depth to the game and opens up so many more ways to play this game. Playing CK2 without the hook system feels bland and empty.

Please Paradox....don't change CK3 and make it more like CK2.....CK2 is great....and it is still available and whoever prefers it can still play it. Make CK3 denser and more eventful but don't change the main game mechanics....those a pretty good. There is a reason why CK# is rating as good as it does in pretty much any gaming review out there.

It's great that you can enjoy the game. I honestly thought that Ck3 was going to get the same treatment as IR, so I'm glad that I'm the exception in disliking Ck3. For me the bad just outweighs the good by far and I can't enjoy Ck3 because the strategic part of the game just feels too bland for me. Sure stress and hooks are fun but their role feels minimal. Favors in Ck2 almost do the same as hooks and Stress is too easy to get rid of.

Look and feel is subjective. I like the 3d characters but I dislike the map graphics and interface. The interface is just boring looking and hard to use. I find it weird that people prefer black/blue boxes above the medieval style version of Ck2. Icons aren't clear, some things like sorting the most powerful vassals are absent, not being able to look to the realm view as a vassal, important buttons hidden, etc. The map looks frankly just bad, sorry if this sounds rude but I honestly think that Eu4 and even a slightly modded Ck2 look better. Everything is so washed up... Cities and castles look like toys, mountains look like brown blobs etc. It reminds me of a grayish/brown version of civ6 without any of the colorful charm.
 
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Am I saying that they should abandon their vision? No absolutely not! But should their future expansions also focus on people who like the more strategic aspects of CK? Yes.

I am sorry, but I cannot agree with this. Certain new aspects of the game open up so many more strategic aspects than CK2. I just finished a playthrough were I played differently with every heir over many generation. When I was in an expansion and conquering phase I focused my character on military, with other characters I need to to clean up my vassals so I focused on different aspects of intrigue. With one forgiving character I struggled to control my realm and vassals wanted to get rid of me left and right, but I could built up enough dread to make them fear me. So I invested experience in diplomacy.....got the perk that increases the opinion bonus for gifts and befriend as many vassals as possible. Really....on about 10 different characters I played almost all of the completely differently and had to deal with similar issues in different ways. This is a giant change compared to CK2 and adds quite significantly to roleplaying and strategic decision making. I didn't even start talking about innovations and vassal management which both is more complex and more strategic as well.

The only thing I agree with is, that we need even more events, decisions, and random stories to keep it even fresh and new after many campaigns. But it's a good start, especially how random events play out differently with different characters/traits.....so you might get similar events, but based on your character you see completely new resolution options.

You might prefer CK2, but I don't think that the game is lacking strategic aspects. The only thing is that it might get a little easy real quick, but this can probably be addressed in future updates.

I like the graphics of the map. I like how you can zoom in and out and smoothly transition between the different types. This is actually pretty cool. The only issue I have with the map is that I would love to zoom even closer to look a the building and stuff. There could be also more variation in castles, etc.....
 
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I am sorry, but I cannot agree with this. Certain new aspects of the game open up so many more strategic aspects than CK2. I just finished a playthrough were I played differently with every heir over many generation. When I was in an expansion and conquering phase I focused my character on military, with other characters I need to to clean up my vassals so I focused on different aspects of intrigue. With one forgiving character I struggled to control my realm and vassals wanted to get rid of me left and right, but I could built up enough dread to make them fear me. So I invested experience in diplomacy.....got the perk that increases the opinion bonus for gifts and befriend as many vassals as possible. Really....on about 10 different characters I played almost all of the completely differently and had to deal with similar issues in different ways. This is a giant change compared to CK2 and adds quite significantly to roleplaying and strategic decision making. I didn't even start talking about innovations and vassal management which both is more complex and more strategic as well.

The only thing I agree with is, that we need even more events, decisions, and random stories to keep it even fresh and new after many campaigns. But it's a good start, especially how random events play out differently with different characters/traits.....so you might get similar events, but based on your character you see completely new resolution options.

You might prefer CK2, but I don't think that the game is lacking strategic aspects. The only thing is that it might get a little easy real quick, but this can probably be addressed in future updates.....

I haven't experienced stuff like this in my 6 playthroughs. I never had to change my strategy even with rulers that have bad stats. Sometimes I have to abandon my plans to declare war or revoke a title, but I was never forced to change my strategy after playing another character..
 
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Graphics and user interface aside (which I agree can be very subjective), can you give examples of why you feel CK2 is strategically more interesting? What are you missing when it comes to strategy in CK3. I don't think I played CK2 as much as you did and maybe I missed certain aspects of CK2.

Also, don't forget that we still missing certain parts of the game. Some stuff will come in DLCs. Otherwise, what should go in the DLCs if everything went already in the vanilla game at launch.
 
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I haven't experienced stuff like this in my 6 playthroughs. I never had to change my strategy even with rulers that have bad stats. Sometimes I have to abandon my plans to declare war or revoke a title, but I was never forced to change my strategy after playing another character..

I didn't have to change my general strategy, but I might had to delay plans or get certain things accomplished differently due to certain character traits.