In the months and years following the German occupation of France during World War II, the people of France found it troubling dealing with the oppressive regime placed upon them. French communists, those opposed to the brutal regime, and many seeking a return to the old ways gathered together to form pockets of resistance against their occupiers. The resistance groups targeted key infrastructure, fed intelligence to the Allies, and made the ultimate liberation of Europe far less costly in the number of lives lost.
Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance draws inspiration from these events and is the newest downloadable content available in the Hearts of Iron IV series. La Resistance adds arguably some of the biggest mechanics yet to the World War II grand strategy game with a variety of impactful new mechanics focused on intelligence agencies.
Intelligence is Power
Prior to the La Resistance expansion, Hearts of Iron IV relied on simplistic means to learn more about your enemy Now, it is possible to infiltrate the various branches of the target country, get more accurate information, and adjust your plans based on the intelligence you discover.
For example, you could infiltrate the German Navy to get a clearer picture of how many submarines they might have. Knowing this information can now impact your decisions throughout the course of your playthrough; for example, should I try and boost my destroyer production as a result? Maybe I should relocate my convoy protection to help defeat that country’s submarines? One of the highlights of this expansion, unlike others, is there are meaningful actions that come as a result of missions and new intelligence.
New Challenges, New Opportunities
The Axis is generally extremely powerful in Hearts of Iron IV. Germany has very little trouble stomping France, and they typically don’t struggle with the Soviet Union much either. Italy during World War II was extremely underwhelming as an Axis power, but in Hearts of Iron IV, they have incredible potential to harm the Allies with added pressure from Germany.
Paradox made these balancing choices in an effort to encourage other playable countries, such as the United Kingdom, to play more active roles in the war effort; however, La Resistance adds new challenges that will make the occupation of France, Poland, and other countries more difficult with the addition of resistances. As a France player, your game was generally done if Germany bulldozed you through Belgium and Luxembourg. Now, Germany must contend with new resistance cells popping up that add unique challenges for Germany and Italy whilst trying to stave off growing assaults from the Allies and the Soviets.
One of the best parts of La Resistance is the addition of missions you can perform with your spies. Start forming the resistance or plot to infiltrate the enemy's army! In my playthrough as the United States, I was able to sabotage key infrastructure and acquire a wealth of information that made my assault much easier as a result. In multiplayer, this information would be even more crucial as players generally adopt more varied strategies than the AI.
The tricky part about operations is they are generally risky, and they require you to pause more frequently whilst in the middle of a war. There is a useful feature where you can continue to repeat missions, but if you plan to prep new operations expect to stop frequently to address it. First, you need to build an intelligence network, then you need to prep a mission, and commence it after that.
Cyphers play a key role in various aspects of the decryption portion of La Resistance as well. Unlocking ciphers for a country grants numerous temporary bonuses, such as defense bonuses or invasion planning speed. Unlocking and using ciphers is temporary, but will be worthwhile when at war with a country. In my playthrough, I could see how operations and intelligence could be ignored, but in doing so you would be losing out on the numerous benefits that ciphers and other intelligence operations provide.
Viva La Spain?
For those familiar with Hearts of Iron IV, a Spanish civil war breaks out at the beginning, which typically results in Nationalist Spain winning. Big additions change the playthrough of Spain to make it more interesting and engaging. You can spend political power to recruit more units to your side prior to the outbreak of the civil war. Additional decisions in your revised focus tree allow for the ability to change the direction of the normally neutral Spain as well.
In addition, France sees further overhaul to allow the re-establishment of the French monarchy. One of the fun little additions is new national focus trees that will enable you to have a bit more freedom in case Germany does end up rolling over you in your France playthrough. Disappointedly, the Free France and Vichy France focus trees are both fairly small though, but if you combine it with resistance operations you can certainly continue to make your presence felt as France even if you end up conquered by Germany.
Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance Review | Final Thoughts
Hearts of Iron IV has always been a grand strategy game known for variety. No two playthroughs will ever be the same, and the choices you make throughout a playthrough can have varied consequences. The additional layers of gameplay provided by La Resistance are fantastic, but it does add to an already immensely complicated game. Hours and hours of watching tutorial videos are often needed to have a clear understanding of the mechanics as the tutorial fails to deliver vital information about this expansion. Still, for veterans or those willing to take the time to learn it, La Resistance will add new options for various countries and add more meaningful information to inform your decision making.
TechRaptor reviewed Hearts of Iron IV: La Resistance PC via Steam with a copy purchased by the reviewer
- Intelligence gathering improves a previously non-existing mechanic
- Resistances, intelligence, and spies create provide varied and beneficial outcomes throughout the game
- Detailed new options for playing France and Portugal
- Adds an Additional Layer of Complexity to an Already Complex Game
- Lack of Tutorial May Frustrate or Turn Off New Players
- Operations and Planning Can Interrupt and Slow Wars Down