Reviews by BalancedGaming

Hearts of Iron IV: La Résistance
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Good concept, implementation could be better

The espionage mechanics were well-conceived and mostly work. However, espionage is best used as a passive system. Actively utilizing operations is usually tedious and more costly than it's worth. Collaboration governments are overpowered and poorly integrated with existing puppet mechanics.

Scout planes are pretty fun, though.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 6th 2022
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Hearts of Iron IV: Man the Guns
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Good concept, mediocre balance, poor AI

The ship designer is very fun to use. The problems are that using it is suboptimal - it's most efficient to build almost exclusively empty destroyer hulls - and that the AI either can't or won't use the system, depending on how you frame the question.

Admiral traits only sort of work in that they're all but impossible to gain via experience. Closing off sea zones to shipping also prevents your fleets from entering, which is very frustrating in practice.

Governments in exile and the naval treaty mechanics are modest changes, but they're well-implemented and sometimes impactful.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 6th 2022
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Hearts of Iron IV: No Step Back
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Best HOI4 DLC in years

It's not perfect, but it does what it claims to pretty well, and the end result is a lot of fun. The officer corps and tank designer are some of the best updates the game has ever received, and both are being heavily utilized by some excellent overhaul mods.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 6th 2022
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Cities: Skylines - Content Creator Pack: Modern Japan
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Unique buildings, not a new district style

This pack only has unique buildings in it. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's more in line with earlier content creator packs than with the more recent ones, which add district styles. The skyscrapers are pretty cool, though.

Worth considering when it's on sale.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 26th 2021
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Cities: Skylines - Content Creator Pack: Modern City Center
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Good content pack

This is my favorite content creator pack. If you enjoy building large, dense, elaborate city centers, you'll probably enjoy this DLC.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 26th 2021
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Cities: Skylines - Content Creator Pack: University City
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Great assets, but no district style

This is a good content pack. I liked it even though I prefer building city centers to building suburbs. All the buildings have to be placed directly, though; the DLC doesn't add a new district style for college towns.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 26th 2021
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Cities: Skylines - Content Creator Pack: European Suburbia
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Great content pack

This DLC adds a new district style to the game, which is great for changing the look of your low density areas. Probably the most versatile content creator pack for the game.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 26th 2021
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Cities: Skylines - Content Creator Pack: Art Deco
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A little dated, but still good

The buildings this pack adds are of lower resolution than those from later content packs. Still, it's pretty nice, especially if you like art deco architecture and aren't just getting it to add variety to your city.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 26th 2021
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Cities: Skylines - Content Creator Pack: High-Tech Buildings
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A little dated, but still good

The buildings in this pack are of lower resolution than those of most other content packs. They're great for building some sort of research campus, though.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 26th 2021
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Cities: Skylines - Concerts
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A little expensive but entertaining

This DLC is a little overpriced, but it adds the fairly unique mechanic of seasonal events. It's not essential, but it definitely made my cities feel more alive and a little more chaotic (in a good way).

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 26th 2021
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Cities: Skylines - Campus
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Not essential, but enjoyable

Campus and Parklife are both "gardening" DLCs: you build a special area in your city and spend lots of time sprucing it up and tinkering with it. If you want a slightly more involved Cities: Skylines game, or if that just sounds fun to you, you'll probably enjoy this.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 26th 2021
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Stellaris: Distant Stars Story Pack
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Good for experienced players

The mid- to late-game crisis this DLC adds will likely frustrate newer players. It's not terribly difficult to avoid or defeat if you know what you're doing and know to prepare for it, but for inexperienced players it will likely feel insurmountable.

Not a bad buy if you've gotten any Stellaris expansions you're interested in and are looking for a challenge. Sales are frequent, so wait for one.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 21st 2021
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Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn Story Pack
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Good even if you don't like playing as robots

There's a robot fallen empire that's much more engaging to interact with than the other fallen empires, and having the potential threat of a robot rebellion in the back of your mind makes decisions regarding robots more interesting.

This is worth buying on sale, after you've gotten any major Stellaris expansions you're interested in (also when they're on sale).

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 11th 2021
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Stellaris: Ancient Relics Story Pack
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Excellent story events

This is one of the better DLCs for Stellaris. The excavation events are well written and breath some extra life into the early and mid-game. Exploration is more fun and consequential, and many of the outcomes of excavations are strategically meaningful well into the mid-game.

As always with Paradox DLC, wait for a sale, especially for something this old.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 8th 2021
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Stellaris: MegaCorp
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Mid-tier Stellaris DLC

MegaCorp is a better DLC now than when it was released thanks to some long overdue updates to Stellaris's economy. It provides more and better content than most flavor and species packs, but it and Apocalypse are the weakest major expansions for the game.

If you like Stellaris, especially if you want to play as a megacorporation, MegaCorp is worth buying on sale, after picking up Utopia, Federations, and probably Nemesis (in that order).

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 8th 2021
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Stellaris: Plantoids Species Pack
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Good for a cosmetic pack, but entirely unnecessary

If you like Stellaris or just like your games to look very pretty, Plantoids provides some quality cosmetic content.

If you're interested, I'd consider buying it on sale after you've picked up any Stellaris DLC that adds mechanics you're interested in.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 8th 2021
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Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
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By far the best cosmetic DLC for Stellaris

I'm not normally into cosmetic DLCs, but I've *really* enjoyed Humanoids.

There are a few reasons for this:

1) The DLC's humanoid ship set has easily the best looking ships and starbases in the game.

2) The voices the DLC provides are underrated and were an unexpectedly enjoyable addition to the game. Since Stellaris already has a great soundtrack, I'm less likely to mute the game and more likely to enjoy the DLC's voices.

3) A large number of prescripted empires use the humanoid ship set and voices. This DLC meshes well with those, which spawn as AI empires even if you don't play as them.

Obviously this isn't as beneficial as DLC that affect Stellaris's mechanics, but I have no regrets about having picked it up on sale.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 8th 2021
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Stellaris: Complete Soundtrack
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Doesn't affect Stellaris at all

This is good music, but it doesn't add any new tracks to the game. It only gives you sound files that you can download or listen to outside the game.

Some of these aren't part of the game's soundtrack - it includes all of Stellaris's trailer music, including the fan favorite from the Apocalypse story trailer - so it's not a bad value. However, I gave it two stars instead four because the description doesn't clearly state that this is more akin to a Stellaris-branded ebook than a normal DLC.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 8th 2021
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Stellaris: Nemesis
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Revitalized Stellaris gameplay

This was the most fun Stellaris DLC that Paradox has released in years. It's the most significant update to the endgame since Utopia, if not since the game's release.

It still needs some balancing work - espionage is a little underwhelming, and I haven't seen an AI empire become the crisis yet. The content also gets old more quickly than that of some other expansions - there's only so many times you can become galactic emperor or destroy the galaxy before it becomes passé.

Nemesis is worth buying on sale, and I'd rank it after only Utopia and Federations in terms of quality.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 8th 2021
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Stellaris: Apocalypse
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Good but underwhelming

The Marauders are a good addition to the game and Titans are pretty fun to use. However, Colossi - the headline feature of this DLC - are underwhelming thanks to the opinion penalties you incur with the entire rest of the galaxy for using them. This has become more true after the game's more recent updates to federations and the addition of the galactic community.

It's worth getting on sale, but Apocalype and MegaCorp are roughly tied for weakest major Stellaris expansions. Utopia, Federations, and Nemesis add more to the game in my opinion.

by BalancedGaming, United States - May 8th 2021
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