Paradox has announced the first full expansion for Crusader Kings 3, and it’s going in a very different direction from its predecessor. Royal Court will add a new, full-screen throne room in which you can display treasures and interact with petitioners from across your kingdom. They’re also bringing back the character inventory from Crusader Kings 2: Monks and Mystics, including culture-specific weapons that will be displayed on your character and used in animated duels.
Most of Crusader Kings 2’s big expansions focused on opening up or fleshing out a specific area, and the Crusader Kings 3: Northern Lords flavor pack, released earlier this year, felt like that kind of expansion. But going in such a different direction for the first major piece of new content seemingly speaks to a desire to lean into CK3’s RPG aspects. Taking your eyes off the map and putting them more on characters and physical locations within the world is a major departure from Paradox’s usual M.O., and I think it’s the bravest and most interesting path they could have taken.
Kings and Emperors with feudal or clan governments will get access to the Royal Court. Lowly Dukes and Counts, as well as tribal rulers, will have to be content with painted 2D backgrounds for now. Spending money to increase the opulence of your court will increase a new stat called Grandeur, which can impress your vassals and attract characters like master smiths and famous poets to you. But the bigger your realm is, the more you’ll be expected to spend to maintain appearances, and falling behind can harm your vassal relations, marriage prospects, and prestige. This will allow a new way to play “tall”, as a small but wealthy kingdom with a court far grander than their size would suggest can reap a lot of benefits.
That smith who was drawn to your court can be commissioned to make you a special weapon, crown, or set of regalia (no armor for now), which will go into your new inventory and can be passed down through the generations. Even the finest sword doesn’t hold its edge forever, though. Your great-great-grandmother’s sword may need to be reforged, at great expense, to remain useful in combat. You can, of course, retire it and put it on display instead to make use of its ornamental value.
Crusader Kings 3 Screenshots
You will have access to multiple court types, focusing on things like learning and diplomacy. Investing in your court will unlock things like new court offices, like a royal food taster to defend you against poisoning events, or a court tutor who can help you learn new languages. Why would you want to do that, though?
Well, because the free patch coming alongside Royal Court is reworking CK3’s entire culture system. Similarly to how religions are constructed in the base game, cultures will now consist of an Ethos, Traditions, and Pillars. Your Ethos, such as bellicose or spiritual, will define the overall theme. Traditions, of which each culture can have up to six, are special bonuses like being better at farming in harsh terrain or allowing women to fight as knights. Pillars define things like what kind of clothing your culture wears, as well as their Heritage, such as Latin, which replaces the old concept of Culture Groups.
Owners of the DLC will get further opportunities to play with this system. You’ll be able to create divergent cultures, spending prestige to mix up all of the above traits and give your new culture a custom name and map culture. Or if you prefer, a foreign ruler in a far-flung land can create a hybrid culture between their own and that of the people they now rule, like Greco-Norse, Indo-Mongol, or maybe some more historically-grounded ones like Norman. This will allow you to combine traits of your old culture and the new one, so you could raid the Indus with viking warrior monks.Crusader Kings 3 released last year to great fanfare. In my review, I called it “the new king of historical strategy, expanding on and deepening the best parts of what made its predecessor memorable and unique,” with a 10/10 score. Paradox followed this up in April with the small, viking-focused Northern Lords flavor pack, adding lots of new flavor and mechanics for your Scandinavian seafaring needs.
We don’t have a release date for Royal Court or the associated DLC yet, but some time later this year would fit with Paradox’s usual release cycle. Be sure to check out our round-up of all the big news from PDXCon Remixed.
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