REVIEW: Crusader Kings III: Northern Lords

It’s been quite a while between Crusader Kings III ‘s release and now, finally we get our first expansion pack. Northern Lords is a so-called “flavor pack” – flavor pack – a small expansion that focuses on a specific amount of cultures or nations. But Northern Lords is not just an expansion. It also says something about the direction in which developer Paradox wants to take the Crusader Kings III.

Viking power

Send your men to Miklagard! Photo: Andreas Bjørnbekk / Gamer.no

Northern Lords moves its gaze primarily towards the Vikings in the north, closer especially those located in the Nordic countries and the British Isles. In my original replay of Crusader Kings III, there was a lot of fun you could have as a Viking, including travelling on looting expeditions, but there was something missing. Compared to Crusader Kings II was not very unique to the Vikings this time. This is what Northern Lords is trying to remedy, and which it largely succeeds in.

In my campaign as Harald Hårfagre, it immediately becomes clear that Crusader Kings III has taken a step forward. Not only is the user interface adorned with beautiful and brown wood rather than the stylish, but somewhat generic menu style everyone had before, but Hårfagre has brand new clothes to use. If we talk about the user interface, the figures have also been given new, beautiful backgrounds that are adapted to the culture they live in, whether they are standing in front of Viking ships or Viking shields hung on the wall at the end of an ornate longhouse.

The situation is getting even better now that poor Vikings can find even more happiness in rich, Christian Europe. Looting can now lead to unique events every time, such as giving you the opportunity to acquire even more gold, take “development” points home with you so that the development of your cities goes much faster, or improve or worsen your relationship. to local nobles. Not only is it fun with such events, but it helps a lot both in the variety of the campaign, and in the value of travelling around and looting. At one point, the whole of England was marked with a loot icon, and then I had a good laugh while cursing the other Vikings who had emptied monasteries and villages before me.

Ah, Flavor Pack tastes good!

Beyond the events you encounter by being actively involved in Europe’s internal affairs, we now get back many of the aspects that made Vikings so unique in Crusader Kings II, and a little attåt. North warriors can now travel to Miklagard to protect the emperor in the Eastern Empire and come home to improve men, women can become shield maidens, and you finally have the opportunity to raise huge rune stones in honor of your achievements.

In addition, there are several opportunities to show their dominance, such as creating Jomsviking dominants in the North Sea, travelling on voyages to create their own kingdoms away from home, recruiting new Viking warriors in unique regiments, and personalizing your dynasty with new hereditary genes.

In other words, there is a lot of trifles to tackle, but which together make up a surprisingly large difference. For the Vikings have gone from being just a little different from feudal kings, to becoming something completely different, and playing as a Viking chief – whether you are trying to unite Norway or plunder Britain, is something I strongly recommend.

Meets the critique

Among my biggest criticisms of Crusader Kings III was the fact that the game – in certain areas – did not contain any notable aspects such as already existed in Crusader Kings II. Among these, several are already mentioned above, but Northern Lords does not stop there. Now the map changes with the arrival and departure of winter, and covers relevant parts of the world with lighter or thicker snow. It is beautiful to look at, especially in areas where there are active snowstorms. But Paradox has gone a step further, introducing different values ​​for the lands where the snow comes, which affects soldiers’ fighting ability. Units that are used to snow do better, while those that are used to summer and sun all year do not do as well.

At the same time, composer Andreas Waldetoft has played with the notes, adding Crusader Kings III’s best soundtrack ever. The music has gone from being something in the background to becoming more melodic and something you can hum to, which is in the style of how the soundtrack works in all other Paradox games. Now it is Viking choirs, drums and other suitable instruments that apply. This is a direction I’m very happy that Crusader Kings III is going in, and that I feel is important for a game that mostly takes place in menus.

Conclusion

As written in the review of Crusader Kings III, I was somewhat dissatisfied with the direction the game had taken. The different cultures were not as unique as they had been in Crusader Kings II, and there were several aesthetic and musical choices I did not completely agree with. With Northern Lords, however, Paradox shows that they intend to not only bring back old mechanisms, but to improve them while adding new ones. I just feel a little saved, mostly because of the music, which is so much better than anything else that was in the base version of Crusader Kings III that it’s weird.

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