In 2016, Paradox released the grand strategy Second World War game Hearts Of Iron IV. I have spent huge parts of the last five years playing this game, through updates and expansions, and I think in 2021 it’s as important, and even better, than it was at launch.
Older readers may remember I’ve done some big strategy game re-reviews before, for games like Crusader Kings II and Civilization V, assessing how years of additions and tweaks have changed our experiences of the game, and indeed the genre they sit in along with them. I’m doing one here for HoIIV for the same reason: it’s a big strategy game that has bloated, evolved and turned into something much bigger and more ambitious than it was in 2016, and so is worth revisiting.
Before we get really into it, and as a means of introduction if you’ve never encountered the series before, I’ll repeat what I said back when I first reviewed it: it’s a strategy game like no other. Set in a world where war is the only thing you can really do, HoIIV asks players to manage the entire war effort, which means you’re not only in charge of the actual fighting, but everything around it and everything leading up to it as well. This means you’re responsible for the recruitment of troops, the construction of factories, trading for rare resources, infrastructure improvements, diplomacy and the manufacturing of specific weapons and vehicles.