March 4, 2024
The next chapter in the acclaimed grand strategy game by Paradox Development Studios, how does Europa Universalis IV: Domination improve the game further? The Finger Guns review:

Ah, Europa Universalis IV. First released in 2013, its seen so many changes and updates over the years that its almost unrecognisable in many aspects compared to its initial release. It’s one of my favourite games, and one I’ve got an embarrassing amount of hours in. However, it’s been a bit since I last properly played, if I’m honest, and it felt really good to play the game heavily again for this review… anyway, enough talking, more reviewing!

Europa Universalis IV: Domination is the newest DLC for Europa Universalis IV. Building upon the works of previous DLC’s, Domination expands various facets of the game significantly, such as estates and their handling and large changes to various mission trees for some of the great powers of the timeframe. The DLC is large in scope, but how does it compare to previous DLC’s?

Mission Possible

First up are the mission trees – several major powers of the time period have had their mission trees completely revamped and elevated to a new level of quality. The various new mission trees vary in their aims, but are a mix of historical events and trends as well as ahistorical ‘what ifs’. There are several nations that have received this treatment – Ottomans, Ming/Chinese Warlords, Japan, Russia/Muscovy/Novgorod, Castile/Aragon/Spain, France, and England/Great Britain/Angevin England, as well as smaller changes to some other nations – Korea/Prussia/Portugal.

Some of the mission trees in Europa Universalis IV: Domination are extremely extensive, with branching missions depending on your choices and a large impact on your nation as a whole. They give you options for additional conquest, powerful advisors, economic bonuses and are generally just fun to play. I think my favourite of the new mission trees to play was probably England, with the option to focus on colonisation and reform into Great Britain once the British Isles are fully under your control. This choice offers powerful exploration, colonisation and trade bonuses and encourages a strategy of aggressively colonising the New World, then expanding into Asia afterward. However, my preferable option, and one of the main new features of England, is instead focusing on Europe and expanding into France and into Spain instead, focusing on continental politics and expansion then reforming into Angevin England. Having both these options was great and made for an extremely fun option at the start of the game, with plenty of content to look forward to whatever choice you made later into the game.

Another favourite campaign of mine was as the Ming dynasty of China, although this offered an extremely different playstyle. Although the largest nation in terms of both size and development at the start of the game, they are in an extremely precarious position and one bad move could spell the end of your nation. Managing internal unrest, technological parity with surrounding powers and keeping unruly subjects happy was great fun, and the changes to estates (which I’ll expand upon in a moment) was both important and satisfying. Trying to deal with the influence of the new Eunuchs estate at key times was important, too, as they would offer powerful bonuses (such as mandate growth and province autonomy reduction for more tax and so on) but would give large amounts of corruption in return to deal with. The Ming mission tree gave powerful bonuses (such as additional development for your provinces, vassalisation/tributary casus-bellis for Korea & Japan) and was in general fun to run through.

All the mission trees are great, but some are more great than others. England, Spain and France in particular have large, expansive mission trees which are multi-faceted in their approach. They have a nice mix of conquest, development and diplomatic goals to meet in order to gain their rewards. On the other hand, although they are still good trees I feel that Ming and Japan in particular could of benefited from more time and development in comparison to their contemporaries.

Europa Universalis IV: Domination review 3

Reforms For Everyone!

Next up in Europa Universalis IV: Domination are various historical government reforms, which bring more unique options to the gamut of the nations you can play, such as the Ottomans or the French. These offer various different benefits, so I’ll cover a couple of them here. French Absolutist Monarchy is an unlockable tier 1 reform you’ll unlock as you advance down the French mission tree, and offers addition maximum absolutism (which will become useful later in the game) but also a reduction in the influence of all the estates in your nation. Overall, this is decently strong late game buff but, just like many of the reforms, isn’t overpowered. Another example is the Korean Hermit Kingdom, which is available from the start of the game and unlocks a couple of mechanics such as the Hangul alphabet decision, allowing tech cost reduction at the cost of unrest, as well as other benefits such as increased institution spread. The new reforms in general are a great addition and add both immersion and goals for the game you’re playing.

There are also some reforms that add addition mechanics to the nations you’re playing, specifically for Spain, Russia and Japan. An example of this is the Spanish Councils system, which is once again unlocked via the mission tree for Spain. Once unlocked, the mechanic gives various bonuses to you such as additional administrative bonuses to help with your empire, as well as improving the amount of diplomatic relations that you can maintain. The new mechanics unlocked are a nice addition, and add additional flavour to the above nations if you choose to play them.

Europa Universalis IV: Domination review 2

More Ways To Wage War

Moving on there are a few new subject types, such as the French Appanages and Turkish Eylats. These vary in how they are useful to your nation. The French Appanages are similar to the Japanese Daimyo in that they have a semblance of independence and can declare war on other Appanages in order to gain land, and potentially become a threat to France itself if left unchecked. They also have high initial liberty desire so taming them is an important start of an early French campaign. Turkish Eylats, on the other hand, don’t exist at game start and are instead gained over time as you expand into places like Hungary and Persia. Eylats govern the provinces you take autonomously but still provide you with manpower, force limit and a vassal tax, so are useful to have on that front; they can’t be brought into any wars you’re in by default however, and you’ll need to spend favours in order to make them do so, just like you would with a normal diplomatic relation. These new subject types are a good addition, and continue to add flavour to campaigns such as the Ottomans.

The last major addition in Europa Universalis IV: Domination are massive change to estates, as well as two new additions (the Ottoman Janissaries & Chinese Eunuchs). These changes are incredibly extensive, and add a large amount of new options for you to both improve your nation in certain fields as well as coming with various downsides if you concentrate the power in your estates too heavily. The new changes are great, and probably the highlight of the DLC for me; it makes it feel like I’m internally managing factions within my nation, and really helped with immersion and general fun. For those who like to min-max, there are a lot of powerful additions (such as removing the loss of crown land when developing provinces, or giving your merchants increased power in trade matters). Many of these scale with higher influence, but this runs the risk of problems such as coups if you lose the loyalty of your estates, so care and balance needs to be taken in your decisions. Overall, I was most impressed with this addition in the DLC.

Europa Universalis IV: Domination review

There are also some more minor changes added too, such as new unique units added to the game to flesh out some of the headline nations of the DLC. Land units added are the Spanish Tercios, French Musketeers and Japanese Samurai, and naval units include the Spanish (& other Iberian factions) Caravel/Galleon, Italian Galleass, Korean Geobukseon, British Man of Wars and the Dutch VOC Indiamen. Some of these, such as the Japanese Samurai, are available from game start whilst other, such as the French Musketeers, will be unlocked much later in the game via mission trees. These offer addition strengths to their respective nations and reinforce their capabilities, or in the case of the Dutch Indiamen, allowing more utility due to them functioning as a dual transport/warship. The new additions are nice, and are the cherry on top of the new additions from this DLC.

In conclusion, Europa Universalis IV: Domination is an excellent DLC that expands upon the game in several areas significantly and adds many hours of content to some of the most popular nations in the game, even if there are niggles here and there. Releasing along with the accompanying Free-LC update, ‘Ottomans’, there is plenty here for veterans to sink their teeth into, and for lapsed EU4 fans this is a great jumping on point if you’ve not played it for a while.

Europa Universalis IV: Domination is available now on PC via Steam.

Developer: Paradox Development Studio, Paradox Tinto
Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.

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