Crusader Kings III Review

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Land ownership is everything; it determines the price of food, wealth, and infrastructure. Mark Twain famously said “Buy land: they’re not making it anymore“. In the UK there isn’t an abundance of land but interestingly enough most of it is owned by just a handful of people. In fact, some 30% of the UK’s land is owned by gentry and aristocracy compared to a mere 5% owned by homeowners. This all started in 1066 with Willliam the Conquer who handed out parcels of the land to his barons and mates. You see, it’s all about legacy and lineage, something which is also the main thrust of Crusader Kings III which has come to Xbox Series X. Through spending time with this game I have become obsessed with the earth beneath my feet, the value of it all and the price it takes to get it. 

It’s great to see games like Crusader Kings III and other RTS games finally make the transition from PC to console. This is one that takes place via a great metamorphosis and after sitting down with the lengthy but informative tutorial you’ll soon be getting to grips with all the menus and controller configurations. Of course, a mouse and keyboard are easier, but the move to console of Crusader Kings III works nicely. 

The whole game is set on a world map which shows all the countries of the world in detail, with the small territories each country is divided into for that period in history. You have several scenarios and time periods to choose from at the beginning of the game and a choice of leaders to take on. Picking a leader will also show the level of difficulty that is required to successfully play with that character. Top tip: Start with easy because the difficulty curve is steep and at times unrelenting.

For each leader you choose to play as, the main goal is to thrive and make sure that their lineage survives through the decades to come. You have several lifestyle abilities to consider before you begin, something which is delivered very much like an RPG character sheet with a score for each one. First is Diplomacy which determines how other people see you and how you handle certain situations in your rule. Stewardship is an ability that determines how well you can govern, collect taxes and gold, and how you ensure everything is going smoothly. Martial is your ability to control armies, Intrigue lets you utilise spy techniques and sometimes assassination to get your will sneakily from the shadows. Lastly, Learning helps you gain religious fervour or technological advances to further your cause. 

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You also have personality traits like Calmness or Impatience that determine how you handle certain situations. Your lifestyles have multiple skill trees which can determine the choices of how you want to play the game. For example, in Intrigue, you can focus on being seductive in order to get what you need. Or you can focus on Intimidation to cause dread in your opponents; or a mixture of both. It’s a complex, nuanced and robust system that always delights in the way you play. 

Crusader Kings III will let you pause and unpause time whenever you like. When you unpause the months and years fly by, as events take place in little boxes that appear that you have to deal with, like requests from your own councils or kingdoms or outside influences saber-rattling on the borders. You can micro-manage every little detail if you want or hand over duties to underlings or your court. There is so much going on here that you have to truly experience it to really get a grip and understanding of how it works. Your goal is to build your legacy through blood, war, and power, with a myriad of different ways to do that. Utter discovery is the fun of the game. 

The tutorial is a must-do, no matter whether you are a newcomer to this franchise or an old hand, mostly as it will guide you through the control system that has been adapted for the Xbox controller. The team behind it have done a very clever thing in attaching the main menus and submenus as hotkeys, easily accessed through the right and left bumpers and triggers. You can also – a bit like Football Manager – access a cursor that you can move and select like a mouse if you need to. It does take a while to get used to, but it works, even if you may need to start making notes as to which button does what. 

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The game’s visuals power the whole thing; a mixture of looking at the main map, the great character drawings, and the event pop-ups that combine nicely designed animations of what is happening. It’s beautifully contained and my only criticism is that at times I found the text a bit small on my TV. It’s probably not going to be an issue if you’re on a PC with the screen up close, but the majority of Xbox players will be kicking back with larger TVs. Further, the soundtrack and audio effects that accompany, are atmospheric and work brilliantly throughout. 

Crusader Kings III is a proper RTS game that is capable of proving that the genre can work on console. The tech needed to run this type of game is in place, and what a game Crusader Kings III is; so detailed in what is possible with a choice of campaigns giving plenty of hours of content. You should be warned though – you’ll become immersed in this game, it will whisk away the hours and you’ll no doubt find yourself totally engrossed in the intrigue, war, and family dramas that are on offer. 

For fans of RTS games, Crusader Kings III is a must-have, and whilst newcomers may initially be overwhelmed, it’s most certainly one to try. Maybe, just maybe, this will pave the way for a console version of Age of Empires. 

Crusader Kings III can be downloaded on Xbox Series X|S from the Xbox Store

Land ownership is everything; it determines the price of food, wealth, and infrastructure. Mark Twain famously said “Buy land: they’re not making it anymore”. In the UK there isn’t an abundance of land but interestingly enough most of it is owned by just a handful of people. In fact, some 30% of the UK’s land is owned by gentry and aristocracy compared to a mere 5% owned by homeowners. This all started in 1066 with Willliam the Conquer who handed out parcels of the land to his barons and mates. You see, it’s all about legacy and lineage, something which…





Pros:

  • Brilliant RTS
  • Multiple different ways to play
  • Presentation and sound
  • Tons to do

Cons:

  • Can be overwhelming for newcomers

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to – Paradox Interactive
  • Formats – Xbox Series X|S, PS5
  • Version reviewed – Xbox Series X
  • Release date – 29 Mar 2022
  • Launch price from – £41.74


TXH Score

4.5/5

Pros:

  • Brilliant RTS
  • Multiple different ways to play
  • Presentation and sound
  • Tons to do

Cons:

  • Can be overwhelming for newcomers

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to – Paradox Interactive
  • Formats – Xbox Series X|S, PS5
  • Version reviewed – Xbox Series X
  • Release date – 29 Mar 2022
  • Launch price from – £41.74

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