Itís not MOO3
Now donít make the mistake of dismissing Victoria as hopeless, another Master of Orion 3. Despite its prodigious faults, there are those who can look past its problems and enjoy the game within. Almost every issue can be compensated for, from the partisans that come fully armed out of nowhere every 2 days and the coagulate into giant armies that take forever to put down, to the bad peace AI, which is still hesitant to acknowledge defeat even in 1.02.
Master of Orion 3 failed because it didnít have any working AI, the interface was the worst known to man, and it mixed high levels of detail and abstraction in a very inappropriate fashion. Victoria gives the player full control of whatever he wants, and he should take advantage of that. Any grognard should have the patience to frequently pause, check production, upgrade railroads nation-wide and consider his strategic options. The AI is relatively competent, and can handle most tasks adequately Ė just donít let it handle your trade for you. Itís quite easy to manage, as you soon learn what goods you are producing and can sell, and what resources you need.
While most people will find the level of detail and number of tasks frustrating, those arenít flaws per se. The game sets out to be detailed and accurate, and accomplishes that task rather admirably Ė which is exactly what its target audience wants. Unfortunately a lot of balancing remains to be done. For example, while goods coming from your colonies will be disrupted by an enemy fleet, your trade is utterly unaffected. This significantly diminishes the advantage of having a fleet, and while no one is about to accuse of Paradoxís version of Great Britain of being weak, it doesnít dominate the world through the mere threat of starving out its foes, as it historically did.
Victoria is a remarkably unfortunate title, being a large step up in complexity from Europa Universalis and even Hearts of Iron, yet itís the first of the series that doesnít have a tutorial. To make matters worse, not even the initial Major Powers have their economies set up correctly from the start, to not run the player into debt within days of beginning a game. This incredible dive into the deep intricacies of the game, with no help whatsoever, is a sure turn-off for so many casual gamers.
The feedback Paradox received about Hearts of Iron was clearly not taken to heart either. Victoriaís interface, while manageable and not too convoluted, is wholly incapable of easing the burden on the player.
Patch 1.02 has made this worse, by making the economy much more difficult to manage and the early game far less exciting Ė indeed, even as France and Prussia my early years were occupied with industrial expansion rather than military exercise. Early wars damage the economy so badly itís simply not worth it, unless you deliver a devastating victory and capture sayÖ the rest of Schliesen and most of Czech from Austria when youíre Prussia, or a few of the choice Dutch provinces as France. Colonial wars are possible if not particularly useful as the decisive shortage early on is industrial manpower, not labor for resources. Thereís no doubt that 1.02 is better than 1.01 in the long run, but if it drives players away before they can get used to the game, it is hardly welcome on any hard drive.
Itís a wonder that there are all these industries at the start of 1836, like clothing factories, wineries and clipper shipyards, yet none of the intermediate industries are sufficient. Fabric alone is worth its weight in gold. Paradox is going to have an incredible time justifying these heinous oversights, as they damage the gameís immediate likeability.