Paradox has an interesting take on DLC. Instead of offering trinkets for pennies like larger companies like EA does they instead release content that would otherwise be full expansions.
Most game’s expansions consist of 3 parts. A path, new features, and content. Typically after the expansion is out support ends for the core game and if you want further bugs fixed you must buy the expansion even if you do not intend to play the new content.
Paradox has a new take on expansions, and DLC in general. Yes they still have trinket DLC for graphics and little things that EA has, however like with an EA game that is option. They add little to nothing to the game and harm you not at all if you don’t take it. Of course for an EA game sometimes it harms you not to take these trinkets. Paradox’s application of expansions however as it pertains to DLC is how DLC should be used. Instead of making a traditional expansion with the 3 parts mentioned above the expansion comes only with one part, content.
Whenever a expansion-dlc is released by Paradox a patch is released. This contains all the patched fixes as well as the new game features. Where support for the core games ends with other companies at expansion release support for the core game continues with Paradox. The Sword of Islam DLC added game mechanics, events, and new features for Christians as well as Muslims. However if you played as muslims you would get a totally new interface, different game mechanics,different story events, and different gameplay. In the lines of content. If you don’t want to play as muslims you don’t have to buy the DLC and you will still get all the same fixes and content added for Christian players. This new expansion will work in the same way.
The upcoming expansion adds many gameplay elements for the Byzantines and orthodox christians in general. You can create churches indepedent of the Ecumenical Patriarchy and each orthodox nation will get its own representative. New features exist dealing with the byzantines in particular as well as events making them more realisitic in terms of how they worked in real life. In history the Byzantines were the continuation of the Eastern Roman Empire, they did not use a feudal system and were more like a nation that we see today. They had a standing professional army and specific succession rules not covered in CK2. Most of these realities are going to be added in with this expansion dlc.
Now as your technology progresses you can raise a standing army. This standing army works similar as in a EU3 game where it is always up instead of raising levies and you get to choose what it consists of instead of having to build structures in a province to enforce Knights and Pikemen for example. These contructed armies also reenforce similar to EU3 and use a manpower pool as well.
The byzantines can now designate heirs by giving them the trait “born in the purple” that can only be given to children who meet certain requirements. For them the only people who can receive the title of Emperor has to consist of people with this title.
Additionally they added the various holy sees into the game that were seats of Patriarchs in the past. Using this mechanic you can do things such as reform the traditional Roman Empire by being recognized as emperor by the west as well as end the schism between eastern and western christianity.
Additional events for the Byzantines are promised as well as addtional punishments. When imprisoned you can now blind or castrate your prisoners which disallows them from inheritance or holding titles in your empire as well as likely other unannounced effects.
I really have nothing against this DLC other than a couple of things, mostly due to game mechanics.
First of all my issue is with ending the schism. When the schism is ended the remaining western christians become a form of heresy. Its not yet announced what kind it is but in the game as it stands now you can go on holy ways against heretecs which could potentially break the game making it incredibly easy. Normally you need some kind of claim or cassius belli to declare war, a holy war is not only a free cassius belli but allows you to take large amounts of territory in one war rather than just 1 province.
My second gripe against this is the whole Roman Empire thing. The Byzantines considered themselves the Roman Empire, really because they were. Romans have owned their territory since the early days of the empire much of it not leaving Roman hands since mid antiquity. They really were the same Roman Empire in terms of continuity from ancient times when the ruling authority decided to split the empire into east and west administrative regions. Unfortunately in CK2 when you form an empire or a new nation your monarch regnal numbers reset. So I suspect once you become the Roman Empire when you have ruler named Constantine he will not be Constantine XI but Constantine I which would make no sense. To the Byzantines they were always Roman so the line of emperors of the past would be respected. Then again hopefully we will see a reworking of this whole mechanic all together as when in reality the Castillians formed spain they continued to number their rules in the line of Castillian kings not restarting everything from scratch as the game does now.
If those are my only two gripes on this expansion it should be good, and I suspect that those two issues will be resolved before it’s release as there is already much complaint about it on their forums.
Update: Paradox has stated they plan of fixing the gripes above.
Once Paradox releases the NDA for this expansion we will provide further coverage on additions not announced as well as a play-through video to give an idea on how the features work.