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Grand Ages: Medieval preview: Economics, warfare, and economic warfare

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 19, 2015
Buying Europe one fish at a time.

And yet if I’ve learned anything in my time playing PC games, it’s that I have a boring streak about a mile wide hidden right at my core. The same streak that compels me to put Europa Universalis IV on our Game of the Year list—for good reason, I might add—also finds something strangely addictive about Grand Ages: Medieval.

Buy. Sell. Buy. Sell. Buy. Sell. Upgrade your town. Repeat. Grand Ages: Medieval is hardly going to win our entirely-fictional “Most Visceral Game” award. But there’s something about a strategy game that allows players to conquer through economic warfare as readily as actual sword-and-board warfare. There’s something addictive about the cycle—about gradually optimizing trade routes, automating them so you can focus elsewhere.

More than Europa Universalis, more than Total War, more than Civilization, Grand Ages: Medieval is like peering into the guts of an empire instead of sitting above it. Why is an emperor concerned with trade routes? I don’t know. But in this game, that’s life. Grand Ages: Medieval is about slowly building a massive machine out of piecemeal parts, and then tuning those pieces towards perpetual motion—towards self-correction and permanence.

The sun will never set on the Butt Empire.

I don’t know how the Grand Ages: Medieval experience will hold up across a dozen, two-dozen, two-hundred hours—but I do know I enjoyed what I’ve played so far. So much so that I accidentally extended my demo to twice its planned length, almost missing a later meeting in the process. It’s definitely not for everyone—more for the scotch-and-a-quiet-night-in crowd than your typical game. But I think it might be worth checking out.

We’ll presumably have a more solid opinion when the full game launches in September.


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