The Crusader Kings series has built a name for itself by being complex and deep, all while giving players the freedom to explore their way. From ruling Europe with an iron first, to taking down anyone who opposes you through blackmail, if you can think of a way to build your empire, chances are you can make it happen in some way in the game. But with this depth comes complexity, and why it is hard to imagine Crusader Kings III making the jump to consoles, but the mad geniuses at Paradox have made it happen, and it just works.
Crusader Kings III is not an easy game to sink your teeth into, and while jumping to consoles does not make it easier, it does make it more accessible. This is a series that, at its core, is based on depth, with countless ways to tackle each goal in the game. Hours of your day can be easily lost as you try and take on the task of building whatever size empire you choose. With marriages, religion, promotions, blackmail, treachery, ransoms, and even warfare as a tool in your toolbox, there is no end to the havoc you can reap over the lands of Europe.
Now, with the console, all that backstabbing can be done from the comfort of your couch. Paradox has swapped out the keyboard and mouse combo for something a bit more comfortable. In reality, with so many menus, systems and boxes that need to be navigated, it is amazing it could work at all on a console, let alone well, but somehow it does. The systems are laid out in a way that makes jumping between different parts easy, and the contextual aspects to the UI all help guide you through the many options at play.
Even with this new layout and design, this is not a game that can be jumped into easily. There is a solid tutorial that you can load up when you first play the game, and this is something I highly suggest you do. Especially if this is your first experience with the Crusader Kings franchise. There is a lot to take in with this series, and the UI, while intuitive as it can be, can hide many systems that do play a key role in dominating the people of Europe.
Paradox are thankfully taking advantage of the potential the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 have to offer. This is a game that will benefit from help, and the quick loading of the game makes checking YouTube easy, even on the same console. Loading the game up with the SSD in these systems also makes the game easy to jump into, even if you only have time for a single turn to take down the current Pope as you marry off your 3rd cousin to a ruthless Duke.
The core of the game has all been translated expertly, so thankfully, all the bonkers ideas the Crusader Kings III game allows are still present here. Royal Marriages, War, faith, and, of course, character a focused experience that lets you truly build out your ruler. This is a game that rewards experimentation, with each playthrough and new knowledge only helping expand the potential of what you can do the next time around.
“The core of the game has all been translated expertly, so thankfully, all the bonkers ideas the Crusader Kings III game allows are still present here.”
The way every button on the consoles is used is smartly done with Crusader Kings III. They clearly took time to see how people play the game, and map the things most important to the front, and worked their way back from there. The radial menus work well at giving quick access to significant systems, with some of the more complex aspects being relegated to the top of the screen. This is a brilliant way to offer the needed guidance on what is most important, while never making any one system out of the way for the player.
While it will not include all expansions and DLC at launch, Paradox did explain that this will eventually match the Crusader Kings III players know and love on the PC, but for now, the core game is where their focus is placed. From my time with them over the past few days, I feel they have spent their time well. This is the game we all know and love, but transported to a much more comfortable chair, and a controller that will not make your hands scream out in agony.
Hitting both the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, if you love the concept of the Crusader Kings franchise, but just don’t like the PC, this is your chance. While it is still a complex, deep game, the couch makes that learning curse a bit less uncomfortable. Crusader Kings III is finally here for the console crowd, so get ready to push the limits on what a ruler should be in the best possible way.