Conquest of Paradise marks the first major non-flavor DLC for Europa Universalis 4. I found EU4 to be one of the best releases by paradox since Crusader Kings 2, and this DLC claimed to address the somewhat boring colonization mechanics that plagued the game on release. As such, conquest of paradise focuses almost entirely on the new world, making it more interesting for the Native American inhabitants and European colonizers alike.
The first, and primary, selling point of the new DLC is the addition of an option to create an entirely fictional American continent (or continents). Paradox clearly spent some time tinkering with continent creation, and any veteran of civilization will see similarly complex and satisfying continent generation system with attention to climate and geography. While some zany results will occasionally pop up in that the Native American nations will often all be crammed onto one arctic island, it otherwise works quite well. Fixing the problem of making colonization predictable, the random landmass makes the competition between European powers a bit more luck and random chance, as it may not be readily apparent which areas will yield wealth and advantageous trade positions from the start. Another potential area of interest might be Asian colonization, as the landmasses generated can often be significantly closer to potential modernizing East Asian powers.
On the other side of the Atlantic (or Pacific, depending on your perspective), Native Americans have received significantly more content in the form of culture-specific ideas and new mechanics. First and foremost, natives can now migrate around the new world, which makes strategically choosing the capital of your future civilization a bit more interesting, and provides one means of escape from the encroaching Europeans. Natives can also “reform” once the Europeans show up with some Native-specific advancements, as well as form federations (big defensive alliances), along with more advisors, events, and so on. Combined with the new random landmasses, the native experience is moderately improved from the otherwise dull anticipation of European arrival.
In all though, the random new world generator function remains the main selling point of the DLC, and the other features amount to general patch improvements with some new world specific window dressing. I very much enjoy the new world generator, and anyone who wishes to focus on colonization with an element of surprise would be better off with the DLC, but other fans of the series would find it otherwise uninteresting.
The late game is improved a fair bit by the addition of protectorates and colonial governments, necessitating the growth of new world countries and providing some conflict in the latter stages of the game, but colonization usually still descend into a rather dull one-sided affair against somewhat incompetent AI opponents. Those expecting a complete revamp of the colonial system will be disappointed, but those seeking a bit more flavor and late game intrigue will be pleasantly surprised by the DLC.
As always, I wish to end on a note of the price of the DLC, as the content to price ratio for DLC is always worth consideration. The $15 price tag amounts to the purchase of a random new world generator with the colonial rebellions feature, with most of the other changes present in the free 1.4 patch. This seems a rather sparse amount of content for the cost, and I might be hesitant to pay the full price for minimal improvements overall.
This review is based on a digitally downloaded version of the DLC for the PC provided by Paradox Interactive.