Paradox continues to release new content to its most popular franchise, Crusader Kings 2, this time producing the Rajas of India Downloadable Content. This DLC focuses, unsurprisingly, upon India, expanding the CK2 map considerably to include the entire subcontinent and sizable bits of Central Asia.
Crusaders Kings 2 previously limited itself to the beginnings of Afghanistan, with the only real sign of Eastern influence coming in the periodic hordes which invade at set dates in the world. With the Rajas of India, the map has been extended to include Bangladesh, some of the Central Asian Republics, and a bit more of Central Russia. Along with this newly expanded map are the historical political entities that rule them, as well as the cultures and religions that make up its inhabitants. This alone is a welcome feature, and those who enjoy Indian history, or simply wanted a new playground with some new religions and cultures, will thoroughly enjoy this new feature.
Yet, while a swath of new nations, culture, and religions were added, the new features do ring a bit hollow. The three new religions; Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, are not that distinct from one another, and offer few new game mechanics that were not already present in other faiths. One welcome feature is the ability to freely choose certain aspects of your practice of the faith – for example, choosing different schools or patron deities. Other than this, the religions primarily serve to stoke inter-religious strife within the subcontinent, though some minor features may make them more attractive to different play styles. Jainism favors stability and defensive growth, Hinduism favors aggressive expansion, while Buddhism favors learning and a middle road between the other two. The game mechanics alter the ability for some to declare wars on one another, and some are able to designate heirs regardless of succession laws, but they are otherwise very similar.
In terms of flavor, there isn’t that much difference between each of the religions, with most of the new content focused primarily upon the cultural features of India. Some more interesting events involve tiger hunts, which amount to simple pallet swapping European events (grand hunt), or finding a guru, which typically gives the ruler a super powered genius with high learn skill useful for spreading the faith. Some of the other new features ring a bit hollow – while caste systems are added and relevant for Hindu characters, they represent something of a missed opportunity for a useful game mechanic mapping the societal features of India. Instead, along with much of the newly added religious and cultural features, they act more as flavor or aesthetics. While I cannot fault a game valued for its roleplaying too much for not implementing massive game mechanics changes, it is a bit disappointing.
Two new features unrelated to India are added to the game represent a welcome change, though they could have served as useful additions in any major patch (and are actually included regardless of DLC purchase). The first is the addition of a distance impediment to actions, preventing characters from unrealistically interacting across great distances to create ahistorical outcomes. This can be circumvented by leapfrogging across the continents, and some may not enjoy it, but it seems to add a bit of realism and prevents India and Europe from having too extensive content in the early game.
One minor gripe I have with this addition is that it does not account for this in the in-game bride finder, meaning many brides may in fact be well beyond a character’s interaction limit, but this could be easily fixed with a new feature in future patches. The other new feature is the changing of revolts to one of unified fronts – that is, revolts will unify all allies in a common nation, making it a bit easier for the AI to successfully handle revolts.
The ultimate impediment to anyone considering buying this DLC, however, is the price tag. With the two aforementioned features available without purchase, the only purpose to the DLC is the addition of India, Central Asia, and bits in between being added to the game, along with the three new religions and the associated Indian cultures. With this in mind, the 15 dollar price tag is awfully high, and gamers should only consider purchasing this DLC if they are truly enthralled with the idea of playing in India or as one of the Indian cultures/faiths. I had a great time doing so, but for 15 dollars, I would recommend waiting until it goes on sale for 10 or less before buying.
This review is based on a digitally downloaded version of the DLC for the PC provided by Paradox Interactive.