Hearts of Iron vs. Europa Universalis: What’s the Difference?

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Hearts of Iron IV and Europa Universalis IV are both in the strategy game genre, yet they differ in so many ways that it’s hard to know where to start. A good place would be to compare them side by side, as we’ll do here, looking at the similarities and differences between Hearts of Iron IV and Europa Universalis IV. They’re indeed both complex strategy games that have been compared before, but the biggest difference between these two games is that Hearts of Iron plays on a global scale while Europa Universalis IV focuses on individual nation-states.

Introduction To Hearts of Iron

Developed by Paradox, Hearts of Iron focuses on World War II and is set from 1936 – to 1948. Instead of focusing on one country or military branch, it is possible to play as an entire nation (E.g; Germany, Great Britain) and direct their strategy in either a grand campaign or in sandbox mode. The first Hearts of Iron was released in 1999 but was met with mixed reception with some praising its level of depth while others criticized that it was too complicated for new players.

Hearts of Iron

Features of Hearts of Iron

The Hearts of Iron 4 gameplay system includes three different modes of play:

  • Campaign
  • Multiplayer Online Battle (MOBA)
  • Single Player Campaign

Campaign Mode allows players to create their campaigns, where they can choose from several historical scenarios. Players can customize many aspects of their campaign, including starting technology level, government type, and economic policy.

Multiplayer Online Battle mode is a turn-based online battle system. Players can play against each other over the internet or LAN network. Each player controls a single nation and can build units, research technologies, and wage wars.

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Introduction To Europa Universalis

Europa Universalis – The name says it all. This is the first grand strategy game that I have played. It’s a turn-based strategy game where you can play as any nation from the Renaissance until modern times. You start out controlling your own country and then go on to conquer other countries. There are many different ways to win including trade, war, diplomacy, religion, etc.

Europa Universalis

Features of Europa Universalis

Europa Universalis 4 features many improvements over its predecessor, Europa Universalis III. In this article, I’ll list some of these changes.

1. New Map Types

There are two new map types in Europa Universalis IV: Landscape maps and City maps. Both are similar to their predecessors but have been improved upon.

2. Improved Graphics

The graphics have been greatly improved from Europa Universalis III. This includes better textures, higher resolution, and smoother animations.

3. More Historical Events

Europa Universalis IV has added many new historical events that were not present in Europa Universalis III. These include the Battle of Vienna (1683), the Siege of Leningrad (1941-1944), the Battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943), and the Battle of El Alamein (1942).

4. New Diplomacy System

Europa Universalis IV’s diplomatic system has been completely overhauled. Gone is the old system where you had to manually assign ambassadors to each other countries. Now, you can simply click on countries and they automatically become your allies. You can even choose to declare war against them if you wish.

5. New Trade Routes

Trade Routes are now much easier to manage. Instead of having to build multiple cities along the same route, you can just select a city and drag it onto another location.

Basic Premise

Both Hearts of Iron and Europa Universalis are historical strategy games, where players assume control over a nation during WWII or from 1453 to 1821 respectively. While both titles are largely similar in mechanics, several key differences set them apart. The most notable being that Hearts of Iron limits you to managing a single country while Europa Universalis has you rule over multiple nations. Also, Hearts of Iron focuses more on military combat and espionage, while the EU places more emphasis on political factors.

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Key Differences between HOI4 and EU4

There are a few key differences that separate Hearts of Iron IV from EU4. For one, Hearts of Iron is more historical than EU4. It aims to accurately portray history in WW2 through things like events and being able to play as any country in world war 2 (aside from Germany and Japan). In comparison, EU4 does not have an alternate history mode and focuses more on role-playing elements like having a particular idea for your nation.

Three ways in which HOI4 is more accessible than EU4

EU4 has its strengths, however. 1) Diplomacy 2) Unit management 3) Map size and gameplay areas. This is a quick rundown on what it does well that HOI4 does not. 1) Stability 2) Graphics 3) Emergent gameplay EU4 is in many ways a simulation; you get out what you put in.


At first glance, Hearts of Iron and Europa Universalis appear to be very similar but at a deeper level, there are quite a few differences. It’s up to you which game to play, just keep in mind that Hearts of Iron is best for historical purposes while EU is more focused on strategy than history. Have fun!

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