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For the last five years, Paradox has been working away in secret building the successor to a grand strategy behemoth. Crusader Kings III is familiar, bringing back many of its predecessor’s features, but this time the studio is approaching roleplaying with a renewed focus, giving extra attention to conniving rulers and their plotting extended families. It’s still a strategy game, but one where the RPG elements are given even more room to thrive.

Game director Henrik Fåhraeus emphasizes that the studio isn’t trying to retread old ground, and its goals are a bit different this time around. “Rather than trying to match the width of Crusader Kings II, which is huge after seven years of expansions and DLC, we went deep instead, and thought about what it means to be a ruler.”

Yet, it actually still seems pretty wide. Massive, really. There aren’t merchant republics, nomadic tribes are now just regular tribes, and the inventory system—which lead designer Alexander Oltner admits was horrible for balance, and led to stat bloat—has been tossed out, but the list of what’s been kept is a lot longer. Indeed, one of ’s most touted features, lifestyles, sprang from the DLC.

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