Hearts of Iron Preliminary Preview #1

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HOI3 is going to be one of the biggest PC strategy games this year so it’s only fitting that we put together a similarly big preview for it. The article proper is coming along, but for now, to pique interest and tide you over, is a brief summary of some of the points I’ll touch on in the coming preview.

The first major change I noticed starting a game as the Soviet Union was that when I activated the sidebar unit-list I only had a single land unit. It was STAVKA, the national headquarters located in Moscow. And underneath it were a dozen-odd front headquarters- Leningrad, Far-East, Transbaikal, etc. And under those HQs (jaw hovering a few inches above the floor now) were the actual divisions and corps formations themselves. And in each division, of course, there are now anywhere from one to four regiments of various types. Clicking on a regiment vomits another long list of numbers up on the screen in the form of equipment lists, strength data, speed, etc. I don’t think I unpaused the game for about thirty minutes. Just staring.

What effect does this have on the gameplay? Johan has enumerated the various technical differences between the new system and the old, but being a programmer-type he’s not well-equipped to provide the emotional feedback I’m able to. What does HOI3 feel like, now that you’re not tied up in division-micro as much as you used to be?

Things feel more distant, for sure. It’s impossible to understate how much the addition of these thousands of new provinces to the map, in combination with the new front system detailed above, really alter the way the game plays. You’re much more detached then you were in previous HOI games, which is ironic because the new regimental system as well as the new tech system have taken the detail-quotient of this game to a ludicrous level. You almost want to get into the nitty-gritty more now that there’s more to see, but the graphics, the new provinces and the new AI (which wasn’t implemented fully yet, but is supposedly capable of fighting entire wars on its own) are constantly pulling you back out to see the big picture. A big part of whatever success this game will enjoy is going to be tied to how well this new AI can operate. Because if the picture has gotten a lot bigger (and it has) and the detail has skyrocketed (and it has) and the AI isn’t capable of taking some of the burden off the player via skillful abstraction, then HOI3 is going to be the most tedious HOI ever. Here’s hoping the crew at Paradox can keep it together.


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Hearts of Iron III Boxart


  • Developer: Paradox Interactive
  • Publisher: Paradox Interactive
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Release Date: January 28, 2015
  • Link: The Official Site
  • ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending

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