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Have you ever wanted to be a great ruler of a massive empire, only to be screwed over by the line of succession? Have you ever been slighted by a cousin and wanted to hatch a plot to have that cousin dethroned? Do you have a wish to wage war on a neighboring kingdom because you thought the name sounded cool? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Crusader Kings III is the game for you. A Paradox Interactive Grand Strategy game and a sequel to the acclaimed Crusader Kings II, does this game hold up as a worthy sequel? Let’s find out in our Crusader Kings III review!

A kingdom in the making

In Crusader Kings III, your character is the ruler of a piece of land. The size of the piece of land depends on the size of the kingdom itself, and whether you’re a vassal of someone or not. You can play starting in a few eras of historically accurate maps and decide the scale and size of your empire. You get to manage every aspect of governing your empire, from your grand council of advisors to your concubines. Decide whether you want to conquer settlements through skulduggery or straight-up war.

You can play as almost any major character in the known world (i.e. Eurasia and parts of Africa) on a historically accurate map, starting in either 867 AD or 1066 AD. The game suggests a few of the important characters of that time to pick and play as, but you can just as easily play as the Rashtrakuta kingdom or the Byzantine Empire. Bonus points of you unify an entire modern country under your empire.

If that seems overly complicated to you, worry not. The game starts you off with a tutorial segment where you play as Petty King <> in Ireland. It does an excellent job of teaching you the mechanics of the game. Admittedly, these are a bit complicated, but if you’ve played any of the previous Crusader Kings games, or you like looking at tooltips, the tutorial makes understanding these a breeze. However, the tooltips sometimes bug out, and trying to click something within a tooltip becomes an exercise in patience, as you frantically scramble to try to move the mouse in the precise way the game expects you to. A minor issue, but very frustrating, since you have to skip a complete tutorial lesson because of this. You can always open the extensive in-game encyclopedia to clear something, which is always a good thing.

Since this is a game in the grand strategy genre in the lines of Europa Universalis or Hearts of Iron, there’s no story. Actually, let me rephrase. You make your own story as you progress. Sure, the starting of each game is the same but every small decision can change the course of your story. And the ways of affecting the world around you are numerous. Do you want to assassinate your nephew, so you become the heir apparent of a neighboring kingdom? Possible. Do you want to get your daughter married off to a 60-year-old widower and form a strong alliance with that kingdom? Sure, go ahead. The possibilities are endless.

The mechanics are straightforward as well and explained well in the tutorial. Unlike the previous entries, the interface is easy to understand and everything is laid out in a clean fashion. You have your standard views to better manage your empire, ranging from the Culture view to the de-Jure empire view. Resources are the standard Gold, Prestige, and Piety, along with renown. You spend gold on management tasks, Prestige on diplomatic actions, while piety is used to do things like declaring holy wars. There are tabs on the side, which provide quick access to your military levies or the intrigue you’ve collected. This game is geared towards a ‘diplomatic’ playstyle, where war takes the backseat.

That’s not to say that fighting is totally ignored, though. If you wish to capture a settlement through war, you’ll need a proper Casus Belli, which can usually be gained by holding a claim on the piece of land in question. However, this was one aspect that fell short for me. Yes, it’s deeper than in Crusader Kings 2, but the fact that your allies will sometimes act brain-dead is baffling. For example, in my playthrough as the Rashtrakutas, I had war waging on two fronts. While I was sending my troops North, I was expecting my allies to send them South. Unfortunately, I could see their troops marching hand in hand with my own, leaving my Southern border very vulnerable.

Blood is thicker than water- or is it?

A major part of Crusader Kings games is your ‘Dynasty’, and while this has a lot of features that were in CK II as DLC, it also adds quite a bit more. You can just sit back with a sandwich and a warm cup of tea and watch the game pass on. Your character will get old, die of disease, or be murdered by someone. The game smoothly switches over to your heir and continues as if nothing happened. But that is not fun. The fun lies in making sure the heir who’ll succeed you is designed to be perfect. Look for the right traits in your wife, make sure she will not cheat on you, imprison her if she does and make as many babies as it takes to achieve the perfect combination. You can even decide on inbreeding if you so desire, to manufacture the perfect heir. Yeah….

Your character has traits, and they can focus on learning one Lifestyle among Diplomacy, Martial, Stewardship, Learning, and Intrigue which gives your dynasty various perks as the game progresses. These lifestyles let your characters grow in a way that complements your playstyle. The game is like a board-game, more so than Civilization. It gives you the tools and lets you loose. You are free to alter the course of history, all while having the perfect family.

There are a lot of aspects that I haven’t touched upon in this review, but that would make this review read like a novel. I’d rather everyone discovered the features in this game and get the devil’s horns or an angel’s ring above your head as you decide on the course of action.

 A looker

After looking at bland 2D sketches from Crusader Kings 2, 3D avatars are a breath of fresh air. The interface is crisp and the text is readable. The animations during war are fluid, and shifting between the various map-views or different information screens is smooth. Overall, solid visuals

The game performs amazingly as well. Solid 60 fps at 1080p on a Ryzen 5 3600 with GTX 1060, though this is one game where framerate doesn’t really affect the gameplay much. I also had no crashes during my entire playtime.

The audio in the game is sublime. Zooming out changes to sounds of the wind and moving close adds sounds of chirping birds, with the subtle background music of the faction you’ve chosen.


Paradox has created a great sandbox strategy game here, and a worthy sequel to Crusader Kings II. Unlike its predecessors, it’s accessible and easy to get into while not being too simplified. It hits the right balance between streamlining and expanding on the previous entry. With the solid visuals and interface that gives you all the information you might ever need right there in front of you, the game is inviting to new players as well.

The price point of ₹1099 might seem a tad high, especially with Paradox’s policy of adding a lot of paid DLC down the line. The pre-order bonuses and the fact that there’s a “Royal Edition” being released without even announcing what will be in the expansion is not a great look. That being said, the game doesn’t feel unfinished. The relevant content is already present in the main game, and the expansions look to add something worthwhile. Additionally, the game has mod support right out the gate, with interesting content such as this already out. That’s a solid decision, and based on those factors, I highly recommend Crusader Kings III. Glory to you!

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