For today’s post, I will be doing another recommendation. This time, the recommendation is for one of my favourite games of all time: Crusader Kings II. Released by Paradox Interactive in 2012, many expansions now exist for the game, which explains the relatively cheap price tag for the full game- never fear, however, as most of the features are not unique to the expansions. Mostly, the expansions only unlock new characters, with the features they brought with them into the game also available in the basic version (to which I linked). Perhaps I should explain. In the game, you can play as any landed character in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and India (subject to expansions ownership) between the years 1066 and 1337 or in the years 867 and 769 (those last also subject to expansion ownership).
What does the game mean by landed characters? For the purposes of the game, it is any count or above (which I know is a little bit of an misnomer for many cultures at the time, but that is why I recommend a mod- see below). So, you could either begin a game as the King of France or as the count of Champagne, or any of hundreds of other characters. From the moment you begin, the game is about preserving your dynasty, the feature which has earned it its reputation as a medieval soap opera. You can marry, have children, and then play as those children once your character dies, meaning a single game can span approximately 600 years if you play for the maximum possible time. For someone who is interested in history and/or strategy games, this is the perfect game, in my opinion, at least. Furthermore, the depth of the game is quite impressive; the differences between various religions are modeled mostly accurately, and no group of people is demonized, as the name could suggest. True, odd results sometimes come out of the game, like England being invaded by the Mongols, but this is all part of the charm.
Furthermore, if you are really into history, I would suggest the Historical Immersion Project, which is an impressive mod for the game that redoes the map (at the cost of India and the 769 date, but you can forego the map portion of the mod if you wish) and gives many of the characters in the game more cultural events and localized titles. Tired of seeing your German dukes called dukes? Now they can be called Herzogs instead! This mod enhances the historical feel of the game, making an already brilliant game that much better.
This game receives my highest recommendation- true, the price tag is a little steep for the full game, but thanks to Steam games are often on sale (as Crusader Kings II is while I write this post), and so I would recommend picking up the base game and then waiting for a sale to purchase the expansions. I have over four hundred and fifty hours in this game, and I see no reason to stop any time soon. Endless replay value and historical immersion are, for me, the perfect combination, and if you feel the same, don’t hesitate.