Commanding History

'Game Hearts of Iron IV' gives players the chance to play through humanity's greatest conflict


Photo by George Smith

Well, this review is late to the party. On June 6, 2016, Paradox Interactive released their newest game “Hearts of Iron IV.” And I have to say that this is one of the most fun games I have ever played.

If you’re a big RTS (Real Time Strategy) fan or WWII fan such as myself, you will enjoy this game. The game lets you pick from two starting points: Jan. 1, 1936, for people who want create their own history, and Aug. 14, 1939, for people who want to play historically or play as Germany and try to win WWII. This gives players the chance to go crazy or accurate to history. When you pick your time, you are able to pick any country that was around during that time, from Germany to America, Yugoslavia to Australia and Luxembourg to Liberia. This again gives players more options to play. Once you have chosen your country you get to run it the way you want to. You are in charge of the politics of your country, the industry, the research, the direction your country will go and the military.

With the politics of your country, you get to pick the conscription, economy and trade laws. You are also able to choose your political and military advisers to give your troops and country boost. In the industry, it is just a simple choosing what buildings you want to construct in whatever state you want them in along with what military equipment and vehicles you are producing. In research, you choose what you want your scientist and military theorists to research: military weapons, vehicles and military strategy. Along with that, you are able to research electronics and other factors to improve your industry.

The way you guide your nation is through National Focuses. In National Focuses, you get to choose what your country does next. Like in the German National Focuses, you can go down an oppose-Hitler path and either bring back the Kaiser or bring back the German Republic. Or in the British National Focuses if Denmark begins to go Communist, you can choose the Danish Intervention focuses and invade Denmark. Some of these focuses depend on the number of troops you have or the politics of your or another country. Also, these focuses take time. Most of the time they will take 70 in-game days to complete–some are less than others and sometimes they can take up way more than that.

Now for the main draw of this game: the military aspect. In the military part, as you can probably guess, you get to command troops during the war, but it goes even further than just command troops, you get to set up the template for your divisions. This basically just means you get to set up what is in each division, like how many infantry battalions are in your infantry division and what support companies are included (the same goes for your tank, motorized infantry and cavalry divisions). Now you may be asking, how are you going to command every single division on the battlefield? Well, don’t worry. You can assign these troops to generals and field marshals, tell them how you want your attack to go and let them fight it for you. You are also able to take charge of the navy and air force though the navy needs to be fleshed out, and it will in the next major update. Overall, multiple aspects of the game are in your control and there is so much variety that not every playthrough is the same, giving endless fun for all players.

Now all these positives comments don’t mean there are no flaws with this game. For one, the game is very expensive, especially if you buy one of the special editions. And of course, some of the dumb things the A.I. enemies do break the immersion. One example of this is when I was playing as Denmark, went communist and declared war on Sweden. When we first entered Sweden, I surrounded a port city along the Baltic Coast and four Swedish divisions were holding out there, but I was unable to take it. One of my divisions left to support the front, and once the Swedish A.I. saw the gap, it sent three of its division through it to find a path back to the front, but they were going the wrong way. This left the town with one small division, so with five of my divisions, I attacked the town and sent three divisions to distract the Swedish divisions trying to go back to the town. I was able to take the town easily, which just shows how dumb the A.I. can be.

Another problem I have is rapid unit spawning. What this means is a small country continues to push out small, untrained divisions, making it hard to conquer them. The last problem I have is with their downloadable content (DLC). Some things that should be in the main game are locked behind some of their expansions. For example, in their first expansion, “Together for Victory,” the spearhead battle plan is locked behind a $15 DLC.

For me, I can look past all of this and still enjoy the game, as I have spent over 1,000 hours on it and every hour I had fun playing, which makes me give this game a ⅘ and a must recommend for WWII fans, but wait for a price drop.