Crusader Kings II
Crusader Kings II was released by Paradox Interactive back in February of 2012. This is a sequel to Crusader Kings which was released in 2004. This is a grand strategy game set in the Middle Ages (spanning from 1066 right through to 1453).
The game has no set story, instead it allows you to set your own goals and aspirations. You simply pick your starting character, these range from someone as low as a Duke to someone as important as an emperor.
For the most part you will be trying to gain more land and become a more powerful influence in the world. Throughout your reign you can attempt to gain more land and titles in a variety of ways. Waging war is the most obvious way, however it isn’t always possible – you must have a valid reason for attacking someone e.g. a claim on the lands they own or a crusade on behalf of your religion. Other ways include marrying your children off to other land owners, fabricating claims through the use of your council etc.
While conquering lands is a major part of the game there is also so much more going on. As a ruler you must learn to keep your vassals content, ensuring they do not plot against you or even revolt against you. You will also be able to start plots of your own, these range from the reassignment of lands to other lords or even murder plots to remove characters you simply don’t like.
This is a vast and very time consuming game (my previous game took around 100 hours to finish) and it does have a considerable learning curve initially for player unfamiliar with these style of games (There are some wonderful tutorial videos on the Steam workshop page) . That being said I whole heartedly recommend this game, it is a fantastic experience with wonderful visuals and a great soundtrack.