Paradox’s Imperator Rome (2019) was a video game on the precipice of greatness. Having a rough start, when initially released Imperator Rome was butchered by critics- where aside from mediocre combat, this was little more than a waiting game, as lost many of its supporters as a result.
Skip to 2021- the Marius update. Imperator Rome received an overhaul, introducing interesting and complex mechanics, whilst also fleshing out the Punic and Diadochi wars. This update single handily saved the game, bringing back many players, and giving the game a second chance.
Perhaps the most complex but historically inspired mechanic was the culture mechanic. The culture mechanic was a balancing system between groups people. The player received additional benefits such as increased levy and research output from satisfied cultures, whilst they would receive decreased stability and unrest from an unhappy populace. To increase happiness, the player could grant rights to peoples, or even grant citizenship- at the cost of their primary culture’s happiness. If you think this sounds complex, you would be right- but it works, and is particularly accurate to the cultural challenges of the era.
In addition to this, with the implementation of focuses (unique historical objectives which grant bonuses if completed) the game’s replayability was increased infinitely. Initially, these focuses were grated to the Greek states, the major players of the Punic Wars and the Successor kingdoms- giving a historically accurate narrative to these important nations.
So what are the failings of this game? From a fundamental perspective the fixed end date of 27 BC means then player is constantly against the clock, and can be more stressful than fun. More seriously is the lack of development since the Marius update. Due to failings in other Paradox departments, Imperator Rome was discontinued later in 2021. Without new focuses being added, the games replayability could only go so far. Despite the huge improvement the Marius update provided, this decision to discontinue was effectively the final nail in the coffin, ensuring this game will go down in history as a forgotten game, rather than a classic.