'Hearts Of Iron 4' Advice: Take The Trouble To Learn The Game... It’s Worth It

Hearts of Iron IV Paradox Interactive

Hearts of Iron IV, which came out this week, is one of the most complicated World War II games ever released. This extremely in-depth and sophisticated strategy game gives players near-total command of the war from a strategic and tactical level, and it’s gotten very good reviews. It’s also hard as hell to understand. The concepts in the game are very complex on their own, and the interface is very confusing. But trust me—push through it. Learn how to play Hearts of Iron IV and you’ll be deeply rewarded.


Hearts of Iron IV: Push Through The Tough Interface

Hearts of Iron IV Photo: Paradox Interactive

Games developed by Paradox Interactive have a tendency to be intensely complex and rather unforgiving at first. They also tend to have confusing interfaces; UI hasn’t traditionally been the company’s strength, although they’ve gotten better with their last several releases. Their previous release, Stellaris, is their most accessible game ever. Hearts of Iron IV is their most difficult in years.

I don’t have any tips for you on the interface, not yet. I’m still working on it myself—it’s legitimately a really intricate game, and it can be off-putting if you’re not familiar with other Paradox games. Even if you are, there are so many new systems to learn that it’s no easy task.

But the sheer potential of Hearts of Iron IV shines past the difficulty. It’s not an easy game to learn, but it’s not because of bad design. It’s because it really is that complicated. And the complexity creates interesting decisions. That’s why Hearts of Iron isn’t like other World War II strategy games. You can play as any country in the world. The Axis and Allied forces aren’t set in stone. Spain can join the Axis. Russia can stay out of the war. Britain and Germany can even find common ground… or the United States itself can become a fascist country. It’s a totally new perspective (well, besides the other Hearts of Iron games) on what a World War II game can be. It captures the true spirit of the war—the sense that anything could happen, that your ally could turn against you or a front could collapse, leaving total disaster at hand.

Hearts of Iron IV manages to make World War II feel fresh, because it’s unscripted. You don’t have to try to recreate the Battle of Britain. You can just do your own thing, and see what happens. But that freedom demands that you learn the game’s interface, learn its concepts. And, sadly, the Hearts of Iron IV tutorial won’t help you much. YouTube likely will eventually, but for now, most of us are in the same boat. It’s a tough game. But just try some things. Learn by trial and error, by tactical victories and stunning defeats. It’s the only way to do it—at least until we have some tips and tricks for you tomorrow.

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