After Patch 1.4 I'm much pleased with ETW and as others before told, this is the game which should be at release. Of course I'm still not without points of critics and my major point of critic is the stability of the game. Ironically it is now again the same thing since release: Some have problems, other not. Sure, the reason is to find in different configurations of the computers used, but here CA should take a closer look and fix the things. Of course they can't take a look on the mass of different configurations and I'm not talking about computers with configurations from "outerspace", I'm talking about computers straight from the shops with normal things and here is only one to give the guilty for crashes: Creative Assembly!
So long as I found out, the patch build up a mass of pointless temporary datas during battles and round changes. Partcularly when during a round change some battles are fought by manual fight, the game has a good chance to crash or at minimum becomes much slower, sometimes even jerking and flaring graphics. The reason is to find in the fixes of better sound and graphics with the patch, which in my opinion uprised the system requirements and if they are (now!) to low, the game crashed. I personally has 3 crashes since the patch and the last one of such sort I had after patch 1.2! So the reason is clear to find in the changes of the patch. Again ironically this problems have not all players ....
My experience with patch 1.4 is straight positive, beside the fact that I had 3 crashes as metnioned above. First of all the diplomacy is now much more better, but can be even better. Now the AI is now ready to take out peace deals and even offers by theirself peacedeals to the player. Also I had 2 peace agreements between the AI (Bavaria + Spain, Sweden + Great Britain) but here I found it only out after looking in diplomacy menue - a report of it was not given in the game! Further, the AI makes much lesser pointless offers as before, f.e. "Give me province A + B and I give you 2 worthless technologies". Also useful counteroffers are made by the AI and even counter offers by the player are now not strictly rejected as earlier. The diplomacy as it is now is in the moment the best of all TW games ever and no comparsion of the *piep* in M2:TW.
The campaign AI is now really better and active. Naval landings are often in my games and even the use of armies and fleets has most times sense. F.e. I was not pleased before with the pirate hunting made by the AI, because the did nearly nothing. Now they do much, f.e. Spain as conquered one Pirate Island and the Royal Navy is hunting them too on the seas. Before the patch, the AI used armies rarely good and mostly passive, also the composition of their armies was laughable most times. Now they use them good and the composition is also good. Alliances were earlier nearly nothing worth, because the ally didn't do much to help. Now the allys are active in helping the other one and this is given between 2 AI allies and also by an ally of the player. I as Austria have Bavaria as ally and they helepd me a dozen times and there were much battles together fought against our common enemys. Also they protected 2 times Prague of me against attacking Prussians by positioning a fullstack army beside the city. Also, on the other hand a polish army helped Russians to defend the capital of Moldavia against me....
The battle AI is also much smarter as earlier, sometimes looking like as human controlled, but of course sometimes again stupid as earlier. The problem reported of a too much making melee attack making AI I can't personally confirm. Yes, they make of course melee attacks but not more as earlier as my experience after 2 dozens of AI battles is. So again the same idiocy of different experinces in the same game by different players ...
The changes in seafights are all in all good. Before patch 1.4 you could use the big ships for everything and they were nearly mobile as Briggs, Sloops etc. Now they are what they were in original situation: Big, rarely mobile swimming fortresses. So the player needs now to build up good mixed fleets to handle the new situationst contain smaller ships as frigates etc., ships that were before patch 1.4 useless. Of course there are reports of people who are dissatisfied with the changes here, but so long as I could talk to them, they won't really learn to handle the new situation or saw no needing for the changes. However, I won't rate their arguments because everyone has to have the right of a personal meaning. But I think, the changes gave us back ships with sense now, which were before rubbish.
One point is also dissatisfing me too: The chain-ball are now much to overpowered in the game and must be scaled down in my eyes.
All in all the patch gave many improvements which should be from the start on. But ok, now we have them, finally! But there are more imporvements necessary in my eyes, so CA hast to hang on and to work further. The game has much potential inside and can give more.
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