REVIEW: ‘Victoria 3’ Takes Some Work But Offers A Lot of Fun

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Victoria 3 - But why Tho

Victoria 3 is a historical strategy simulation game developed by Paradox Development Studio and published by Paradox Interactive. Set in 1836 players select a country to guide and play out the next 100 years, until 1936, to see how their decisions will change history. This is done through various political, economic, and diplomatic decisions. Victoria 3 is the third iteration in the Paradox Interactive franchise coming twelve long years after the release of Victoria II in 2010.

Victoria 3 starts out with players choosing one of the five different “game types” available along with then selecting a country. These “game types” all play pretty much the same way with the only difference being that the players have a different set of objectives to accomplish during the 100 years. These games include Learn the Game, Economic Dominance, Hegemony, Egalitarian Society, and Sandbox. Learn the Game gives the player unique guided challenges and helps the player understand the basic concepts of Victoria 3. Economic Dominance is about controlling the world’s economy and GDP. Hegemony challenges players to control most of the world’s population throughany means necessary. Egalitarian Society players strive to have the best quality of life for their populations. Sandbox mode allows players to just play with no general objectives.

One of the coolest things about Victoria 3 is selecting a country to play as. All countries start as they were in the year 1836 so who you pick in a lot of ways defines how you have to play along with any realistic goals of playing the game. This means if you try to play an Economic Dominance game there is a vast difference in selecting Great Britain, a Great Power of the time, vs say the Kongo. This brings a unique type of gameplay that is not found in many games in that not everyone starts on a level playing field. This obviously comes with many different obstacles depending on the players’ objectives. When selecting a country players need to decide how much of a challenge they want as they need to factor in many various aspects even simple things such as the land mass size of a country or location. Now each country has its pros and cons but just because you start as Great Britain doesn’t mean things will be super easy as in you will have many more things to manage such as colonies, a larger economy, and more countries out to bring you down, etc.

While players can select almost any nation of the time there are some countries that you are not allowed to select and these are “Decentralized Nations” as these nations usually and historically get colonized. Players do have the ability to change countries during the game so if they want to change it up they are more than welcome to thus while making a selection is important there is the ability to change if things go awry and not have to entirely start the game over. This is a great addition while it only spans 100 years, it does take quite a while to finish a general game.

You have selected your country and got your objective, so now what? This is where all the decision-making occurs. Victoria 3 is a strategy game so the relays the players looking at information and making decisions based on this information. Players control almost all aspects of their country this includes the laws enacted, what products are manufactured and produced, and their relations with other countries. This seems pretty simple just pass laws you want and moves on, but that is not exactly how things work as players must grapple with interest groups along with making their pops (various population groups) happy. This is all based on a multitude of factors such what is the standard of living, wealth, do they have jobs, what laws are passed, etc. This is a very detailed part of the game as it breaks down pops and their traits all the way down to general obsessions, taboos, or even jobs are taken.

What makes this really enjoyable in Victoria 3 is that all these decisions come with both positive and negative effects. Along with interest groups and pops needs and wants change over the course of a game so it is an ever-constant battle to not only do what is best for your country, but also for its people. These interest groups also give both positive and negative bonuses depending on whether they are happy or unhappy. A good example of this is the Rural Folk who give nice bonuses to agriculture production but have a disdain for technology so they all want laws that prohibit technology spread and migration.

If you are a fan of supply chains then this game is definitely something for you. Economy management is a huge part of Victoria 3 from finding resources to creating supply chains. Each country starts with its own market that is dependent on the basic supply and demand of the said country. The game allows for multiple countries to join custom unions to form larger markets that are run by multiple countries. A single game can become a very complex system of supply vs demand and how you handle this for each individual resource. This forces players to decide whether to do trade, build/upgrade current buildings, or even in other cases colonize areas with specific resources. I will say like most games with supply chain management Victoria 3 at times can feel like a “spreadsheet simulator” as you are constantly checking various menus.

“Spreadsheet simulator” may seem fun for some of us, but doesn’t mean it is fun for everyone. There are definitely some issues with Victoria 3 and this mainly comes in the form of the fact that while the game has a ton to offer as it is a very complex and sometimes convoluted game to play. It is definitely not new player friendly as it takes quite a bit of reading to grasp and learn concepts in the game. I will give Paradox Interactive credit as they have done their best to accommodate for this by having entire tutorials made for the game along with trying to give players as many resources as possible including their own wiki.

Victoria 3 - But why Tho (2)

However, this still requires players to not only look for resources outside of the general game but take the time to read and/or watch videos to learn basic concepts. The Learn the Game “game type” showcases some of these flaws as they will help with basic things, then give you objectives that give really no explanation on how to do them. Another issue is while you are trying to do the game’s basic objectives players will receive many alerts and notifications on things that have never been mentioned. There are many players out of there, myself included, that really enjoy digging into these types of games, making their own spreadsheets, reading wikis, and other such things however it is a barrier that a new player can face when coming into the game.

The UI is another thing in Victoria 3 that is both very good and at times very convoluted. Being able to see anything including basic definitions at any time just by hovering over a word is a major win. It allows players to check things without having to go thru multiple menus along with having your own sense of personal dictionary on you at all times. However, the downfall is there are still so many things that involve multiple menus and this means plenty of times players will get lost. This is especially the case when trying to look at specific pop’s status and needs. Also, it is very easy to mess up in-game events at times due to being just a small sidebar marker and with a bottom notification bar that is ever constantly scrolling it can sometimes get so large, it starts to cover some of those sidebar markers. The UI though is just like much of the game just takes some time to get used to and learn where and what everything means.

The diplomacy aspect seems to be by far the weakest part of Victoria 3 in my opinion. The options available can seem to be very lacking and the end result seems to always just be war or some sort of conflict. I understand why they made the decision to not allow players to just be able to purchase lands from other established nations, but not being able to purchase or do any peaceful ways to obtain colonies from other nations feels like a miss. There are times when owning the majority of a colonized state and the only way to get back a small section of said colonized state is to go to war with another major country. There are just so many other things going on during any given game that diplomacy unless you are set on painting the map via war seems to fall at the waste side at times.

Victoria 3 is a game that requires patience and homework, but once you get the hang of things can be tons of fun. The game offers so much variety both in terms of ways to play and succeed along with unique challenges in the array of nations to choose from to play with. Victoria 3 definitely has some things it can improve on and can be a lot to ingest for new players. However, we already know there are more updates and content coming in the pipeline so there will be continued support and Victoria 3 can only get better from here.

Victoria 3 is available now for PC via Steam.


Rating
8/10

TL;DR

Victoria 3 is a game that requires patience and homework, but once you get the hang of things can be tons of fun. The game offers so much variety both in terms of ways to play and succeed along with unique challenges in the array of nations to choose from to play with. Victoria 3 definitely has some things it can improve on and can be a lot to ingest for new players. However, we already know there are more updates and content coming in the pipeline so there will be continued support and Victoria 3 can only get better from here.

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