I’ve always been a big history/alternate history buff. Not just classical history but the Victorian era and onward is my historical jam. I first found Victoria 2 from a thread on Reddit and was intrigued by what I saw. This world strategy/simulator game that was deeply steeped in the history of the early modern world with almost limitless possibilities on what you could do had me hooked immediately.

Victoria 2 is a real-time, grand-strategy game by the Sweden-based developer/publisher Paradox Interactive. As a developer Paradox focuses on grand strategy games set in various time periods. Ranging from Crusader Kings, set during the mid 11th century to the mid 15th century, all the way to their Hearts of Iron series which simulates the Second World War. As a publisher, they’ve created a wide variety of games including the Penumbra series, Magicka, Mount & Blade, and most recently the highly popular games Cities Skylines and Pillars of Eternity. Of their offerings though, Victoria 2 is my favorite both in gameplay and the period in which it is set.

Gameplay/Story


Victoria 2 is a pretty complex game.  You can pick any nation, however big or small, that existed in 1836 and must lead them to success and glory all the way to 1936. What sets apart Victoria 2 though from other nation/civilization building games is just how much the game sets out to simulate. It has intricate systems for the economy, the military, diplomacy, and especially simulating the population of the world.

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Every single one of those blobs is a different playable country. Welcome to the show.

Victoria 2 revolves around the concept of “Pops”. Each Pop in Victoria 2 represents a group with similar origins, occupations, beliefs, and location. As the game ticks away pops grow and shrink corresponding to events in the country and events in the game. It lets you see what your people are talking about, what they believe in, and how their needs are being met. This drives the in-game economy, military, and most other functions of the country.

Pretty crazy, right?

Pretty crazy, right?

The other system that really separates Victoria 2 from other games and even other simulations is its attempt to simulate a living and breathing world economy. Your pops generate and consume goods, factories open and close, and the price of goods dynamically rises and falls based on cost, supply, and other factors.  By and large the world market operates behind the scenes, even managing your own economy doesn’t always require that much input depending on how much the ruling party in your country lets you influence it. Some let you directly build factories while others relegate it entirely to your capitalist pops leaving you to set budget and taxes.

However, rather than going through each gameplay system in excruciating detail I’m going to show a series of screens with some minor notes to give a basic idea of how these systems look and how that represents the game.

Victoria 2 Trade

World trade screen: This lets you how prices are changing, what goods are in demand and is a valuable tool in plotting your nation’s economy.

Victoria 2 Production

Factory/Production Screen: Here you manage the factories of your nation. Are they performing well? What resources might they need? Should you build more? Another tab over also gives an overview of your country’s total production which gives you a good idea of where you stand.

Victoria 2 Budget

Budget Screen: Where you set your taxation levels, budget levels, and can see how much money your country is making.

Victoria 2 Politics

Politics Screen: Here you manage the policies of your country and can see what parties and ideologies your people lean towards. You can also enact decisions (often historical ones depending on country).

Vic 2 Normal Screen

And here we have a normal screen of the game paused. You can scroll around, move units, and get any other information you might need as the game clock ticks.

Victoria 2 is interesting in that it’s a real-time game. Each second that passes in game equals one day passing in game and during this the economy updates, units fight and move, diplomacy moves forward and the simulation advances.

So I’ve shown you this very complex seeming game, but what’s it all about? Why play through all of this?

The thing I love most about Victoria 2 is what ultimately drives the game play and story element. Victoria 2 sets no goals upon the player. You can pick any country and do anything you want for the duration of the game. Want to pick a country and try to recreate what it did in that period, awesome! Want to take a small African nation and turn it into a world power, go for it! The level of freedom and alternate, or not so alternate, history in this game is what makes it so addicting. And while certain events in game tend to happen every time such as America establishing all the states, the various German countries forming Germany, etc. Every single game is different. The landscape of the world is very dynamic in that regard and it really ups the replay value.

'Murica

United States of North America!

Despite the depth and complexity I wouldn’t say that Victoria 2 is that hard to learn; but more that there’s a bit of a curve and it takes a little while to figure out what does what. While there is an in-game tutorial, it’s not very good and I would recommend checking out guides online or people on youtube, particularly Quill18, if you’d like to play the game without going in blind.

Sun never sets on the ____ Empire!

Sun never sets on the ____ Empire!

I do have one complaint though. Victoria 2 follows one of Paradox’s older model for content and patches. With their newer offerings such as Crusader Kings 2 or Europa Universalis 4 expansion packs add new content but aren’t required. Even the base versions of those games still receive regular support. This is not the case for Victoria 2. Both expansions for Victoria 2 bring much needed refinement and changes to the core game that I would not recommend playing the game without both expansions. The whole ensemble regularly goes on sale so this isn’t a big financial burden for people wanting to get into it but I don’t find this very friendly on the consumer end of things.

Victoria 2 isn’t perfect. Certain systems could use refinement, the game could explain what’s going on better, but it’s very ambitious and unique in what it tries to simulate and accomplish. It requires a good investment of time and definitely isn’t for everyone. However, if you’re into history, into grand strategy, or want to try something different than Victoria 2 might be for you. Pick a country, do whatever you might want, make your own story and make your own fun.

For endless replay value, deep strategic gameplay but an expansion/patching system that isn’t the most consumer friendly. Victoria 2 gets a 8/10.

Graphics/Music

Graphically Victoria 2 is a different sort. It looks like a complex version of Risk but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The colors are clean and distinct. Features are detailed and easy to read/interpret without being busy and the graphics scale well to any resolution. For games of this nature I prefer a style like that rather than a more 3D “realistic” sort of vibe. Musically this game is fantastic. It has a large number of orchestral scores that really pump you up and engross you in the period.

I wouldn’t call this game complex musically or graphically but the style and music it chooses fit it and the period perfectly. I give Victoria 2 a 10/10 for these.

Conclusion

So despite all my praise should you buy Victoria 2? If the systems pictured didn’t turn you off to the game I would highly recommend trying it while keeping Steam’s refund policy in mind or watching some Let’s Plays of it on youtube to see if it’s something you might enjoy.

It’s certainly one of my favorites, I’ve spent over 100 hours in the game and have only scratched the surface. It’s definitely not for everyone though. If you’re into history, alternative history, simulations, or even just want an alternative to something like Civ I’d say give it a shot.

Victoria 2 is available on Steam
and with the base game and both expansions runs for $50. If you want to try it I would recommend waiting for a sale. I would say it’s worth it but it’s a hefty price for a somewhat older game.

Victoria 2 gets a lot right and is very ambitious in what it tries to simulate and accomplish. It’s not perfect, it’s got some rough edges but it’s set itself as one of my favorite games of all time.

For endless replay value, deep strategic gameplay, a lovely musical score, and clean clear graphics I give Victoria 2 a 9/10.

 

Overall Score
90 %

Gameplay/Story 80/100%
Graphics/Music 80%

About The Author

Big fan of all things Tabletop Gaming, Video Games, and Science Fiction/Horror. I also build and fix computers.

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