First Impressions: Hearts of Iron 2: Doomsday


Thanks to the good folks at Paradox, I’ve been graced with a preview build of HOI2 Doomsday, the new expansion pack for Hearts of Iron 2. (I can only conclude that they think I’m THE BESTEST HOI2 FANBOY EVER, which is, in fact, true.) This article is the result of a few hours spent with that build, from the viewpoint of someone who plays HOI2 entirely too much.

Doomsday (at least this early version) comes with one new campaign, appropriately titled “Doomsday”. The scenario starts with the Soviet Union and its various newly minted puppets at war with the Western Allies, in October of 1945. It starts off with a bang… quite literally, if you’re the Soviets. (note: this screen, along with the rest, links to a high-res version.)

Yes, the US goes nuclear. Fast. And nukes hurt. I confess to never actually using nuclear weapons in HOI2, but based on how badly these hurt, I’m going to have to start. After that tender visit by the USAF, Moscow went from 12 IC to 0 (rebuilding to 7), 70 infrastructure to 3, and 12 manpower to 3. It was such a nice city.

Thankfully, the US only has 2 nukes (otherwise it would be a fairly short scenario), so playing as the Sovs, I get to blitzing. My troops reach Hamburg and Venice in short order, but Patton’s command in central Germany doesn’t budge, to the point where I try to encircle the Americans by driving through Austria. Meanwhile the UK is sending troops into Turkey to drive into the Caucasus, and my navies are getting picked off everywhere. Oh well, at least Korea falls quickly.

Some new features appear pretty quickly. Most of them revolve around leaders. Interestingly, leaders can now pick up traits during battle, as seen here. The traits are context-sensitive (a general fighting in the mountains can pick up the Mountaineer trait, for example) and seem to happen fairly often.

Leaders also have a history stored with them, as seen in the screenshot below. I’m not sure how much of this is stored; it seems like your more active leaders would get a full history pretty quickly.

The tech tree also recieves a minor makeover, as befits the timeline’s expanding to 1954. Only a few techs are added in the appropriate spots (for example, infantry can train up to “Elite Infantry”, a 1951 tech which gives you 1951-era infantry), which is fine by me. The CORE mod for HOI 2 proves to my satisfaction that insanely complicated tech trees are not necessary the best thing in terms of playability. (That being said, the rest of CORE is great – make a copy without the new tech trees plz) There’s a few new concepts, such as a “Hospital” tech line in Infantry which improves your attrition rates and a “Guerilla” land doctrine which trades 10% max organization for all your units for miltia units with 50% more morale.

The final new feature for Doomsday is the Intelligence subgame, which is an all new money sink for sneaky players to engage in. Using spies, you can use propaganda to drive up an enemy’s belligerence score (thus causing wavering neutrals to possibly declare war), engage in industrial sabotage or espionage stealing blueprints, or even assassinate problematic enemy ministers. Sick of Germany getting 10% more IC just for keeping Hjalmar Schacht around? Do something about it. Not sure how much this affects the game balance yet but it certainly seems fun (if pricey).

In addition to the “omgz we’re at war right now!” Doomsday scenario, you also can play all of the other HOI2 scenarios in the Doomsday engine and ruleset – yes, that means you can play from 1936 to 1954. If that isn’t enough time for you to conquer the world, you may have issues.

I normally wouldn’t even mention stability for an early build like this, but it hasn’t crashed to desktop once yet. Paradox may finally have their stability issues licked.

As befits an expansion, Doomsday is an absolute must-buy for Hearts of Iron 2 afficiandos. It may not attract new players unless you absolutely want to play a fantasy World War 3 instead of a realistic World War 2. Still, Hearts of Iron 2 is absolutely the best WW2 grand strategic game on the market today, and Doomsday just adds more to it.

Hearts of Iron 2: Doomsday is scheduled to be released this April. More screenshots are available from Paradox’s Doomsday site. If you’ve got any questions about the game, post them in the comments, and I’ll respond, assuming I can tear myself away from dislodging those infuriating Americans from the Fulda Gap.