WELCOME TO THE HEART OF IRON
This week on the anniversary of D-Day (June 6), Paradox Interactive launched the long-anticipated latest installment of its classic WWII strategy game, Hearts of Iron. It’s been seven years since the debut of Hearts of Iron III, which came out in August 2009. While there have been expansion packs and user-created content that have kept the game going, the time is right for this eagerly-awaited update.
For those who have never of it, Hearts of Iron is a grand strategy game that takes on all aspects of managing the Second World War from its buildup in the mid-1930s to its outbreak and through its bloody outcome. It has become somewhat renowned in the RTS world for its reputation as a difficult game. Balk as you might, deciding the fate of the world is no laughing matter.
There are lots of WWII strategy games out there, and while many are good in their own right, nothing gives you the war-planner’s point of view quite like Hearts of Iron. From this perspective, the real questions of history are not in asking what would’ve happened if General Patton had not shown up on the battlefield in North Africa to face Rommel, but how did General Patton even get his army to the battlefield in the first place? Or how about this very real question: how long can the United States keep losing 737 men per day? That’s right. The devil is in the details, and details of war are logistics and being able to harvest, produce, manufacture, and ship more of something than your enemy. “Hearts of Iron” is aptly named.
Upon playing Paradox’s latest release, Hearts of Iron IV, I am overcome. While crying in my pillow at night, free from the chains of being an armchair general, I’ve come to realize that I’m not as good at this stuff as I thought I was. That’s okay though. Everyone has to start somewhere.
I chose to play as the United States, and furthermore, I chose to play as a complete isolationist (a policy of non-interference which was very popular at the time). As one can imagine this is no easy task. Europe really does get conquered, and while I try to play it nice with Japan, they’re not not buying it. Making matters worse is the division after division of experienced soldiers and equipment that the rest of the world amasses while I was busy maintaining a sleeping America. Without giving away spoilers, underestimating Japan and Germany was a woefully bad idea.
For those determined to stick with it and try different strategies, failing at some and winning at others, Hearts of Iron will give you some highly entertaining alternative histories such as developing a German atomic weapon, using US troops to invade South America or seeing the US Navy fully wiped out by the Japanese. Just remember: preparation is everything. What path will you take?
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Porkbutte.