Hearts of Iron 4, for those not in the know, is the latest in Paradox’s venerable Hearts of Iron series. The main draw of the series is being able to re-fight World War II as any country on Earth. And I do mean any. You can even pick Luxembourg. Luxembourg. With this latest edition, Paradox wanted to make the game more approachable and more focused on the war aspects than the industry aspects. Highlights of Hearts of Iron 4 include new graphics, a streamlined interface, and a brand new National Focus system. This system was designed to help players understand the political and cultural situation of their chosen country. France, for instance, starts with massive manpower and unity penalties and has to spend time and political capital to sell another war to the war-weary French civilians while also restructuring its arrogant and indolent officer class. As with all of Paradox’s games, Hearts of Iron 4 has a plethora of mods ranging from near-total conversions to simple tweaks to subtly change how mechanics work. Here are some of the best available right now.
Best Hearts of Iron 4 Mods 2018: Kaiserreich
Kaiserreich takes the 1936 start point and re-imagines it as an alternate history where the Central Powers won World War I. The colonial empires are broken up, England and France succumbed to Communism, and America is functionally demilitarized. From this fertile ground springs the absolute best of the Hearts of Iron 4 mods. Hands down, I like it more than the original game. The 1936 of the post-Weltkrieg world makes for a plethora of fascinating alternate history scenarios. Because of the way the colonial empires shattered, game balance is better. No individual country is quite prepared to instantly just conquer most of the world. To accomplish this, Kaiserreich places a greater focus on the stability and functioning of your country’s domestic government. It’s not quite so easy to browbeat the populace in line with what you want to do. Now you have to deal with an expanded political party system, drawing on real-life political parties which existed in most of the countries. Similarly, the mod team tries extremely hard to give most countries an interesting National Focus tree to reflect the changed timeline.
Best Hearts of Iron 4 Mods 2018: Red World
What if the Soviets won? It’s a little bit absurd when looking at the history, but all the same the Red World mod makes for some extremely entertaining gameplay. It has plentiful Focus Trees to too keep the atmosphere intact. It also actually makes playing as the Soviets an interesting challenge. Sitting in the uncomfortable top dog spot with an empire that’s never been great at the diplomatic side of great power status is a fun time. This mod really shines as an absurd Friday night multiplayer romp. Get a few friends together and play minor nations. It’s like Diplomacy with nukes!
Best Hearts of Iron 4 Mods 2018: Black ICE Historical Immersion Mod
There’s a special kind of person who looks at a Paradox game and thinks “this needs to be more complicated.” If you’re in that category of person, I think it’s likely that you’ve found out about Black ICE already. In case you fit the first category but not the second, this mod’s for you. The creators use historical data to painstakingly recreate historically accurate division organizations, new focus trees, and more complex domestic government. The running of your nation takes center stage in this mod, as opposed to being abstracted out as in the base game. If you have to think 5 steps ahead in regular Hearts of Iron IV, in BICE mod you’ll need to out-think all of your rivals by 20 moves and keep contingencies in mind in case you gamble wrong. It’s only the whole world on the line, after all.
Best Hearts of Iron 4 Mods 2018: The Great War
The Great War, as you might have guessed, places you in the time period of World War I. This mod changes the tech tree to match the conditions of the war. That means no tanks at the start (especially if you choose the available 1910 start date). Airplanes can’t unleash incendiary hell on your enemies’ industry. You’re going to have to make use of your infantry, your artillery, and the horrors of chemical warfare to break the enemy. And of course, not everyone on earth participated in the Great War. Several of the neutral countries have their own National Focus trees to simulate their own political maneuvers at the time. The balance changes which inevitably come with a different time period are a nice breath of fresh air. The ongoing development plans also look promising, so it’s definitely a mod to keep up with.
Best Hearts of Iron 4 Mods 2018: Road to ‘56
Road to ’56 is actually a pack of mods geared towards enhancing and extending the base game’s content. If you like vanilla HOI4 a lot, this will give you more of it. The timeline now runs for 20 full years (as you may have already guessed). Technology and doctrines are expanded to reflect the changes that the late 40s and early 50s brought to warfare. Additionally, and most importantly (you might be noticing a theme here) new events and National Focuses fill out the list of playable countries. Minor but important players are of particular note in this mod, as it expands the horizons of a very Euro-centric game. Thanks to these new focuses, even playing on the margins makes the war feel alive. When using this mod, Brazil is exceptionally fun to play as. Taking advantage of the chaos in Europe and the Pacific to build a South American empire really helps show off the changes this mod brings to the table.