Gamer writes negative review after 3,263 hours in a game on Steam – gets response from developer

One player spent more than 3,200 hours playing the strategy game Hearts of Iron IV on Steam, but he wouldn’t recommend it. A developer’s mocking response sparks a discussion.

What game is it about? Hearts of Iron IV is a game from the Swedish strategy geniuses at Paradox. Players are given control of a nation and must lead it through World War II. Since its release in June 2016, 3 free and 4 paid expansions have been added to the game, all of which focus on different regions involved.

So there’s enough content to keep players busy for a while. On Steam, Hearts of Iron IV is “Very Positive” with 91% recommendations from over 200,000 reviews. A player with more than 3,200 hours gave the strategy game a thumbs down and thus attracted the attention of the developers (via Vida Extra).

With their new game Millennia, Paradox actually wanted to compete with Civilization, but here too they are struggling with negative reviews.

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About naked soldiers in the Siberian winter and airplanes

What does the player say? In his review, Steam user “Pluto” addresses various aspects of the game that he dislikes. He emphasizes that Hearts of Iron IV is not a bad game, but he criticizes Paradox’s approach.

Pluto says it would be better to add new content instead of fixing bugs. He is also bothered by the game’s sometimes questionable logic: naked soldiers can survive at -50 °C and anti-aircraft equipment only works against very specific aircraft (via Steam).

The review is from March 7, 2024 and updated on April 4. In total, Pluto now has more than 3,275 hours in the game.

You can read the whole, very detailed review in German here:

After 3,263 hours, I finally decided to submit my review. I waited until the last unnecessary DLC (Trial of Allegiance) came out to see if the developers were more concerned with squeezing money out of the broken game or if they were more concerned with fixing the core mechanics and some logic to bring into the game. The company’s current policy is to add more things that introduce more bugs and problems to the game instead of ensuring that the game works as intended.

First of all, I wouldn’t have 3,000+ hours in this game if it was really that bad. The game is very entertaining and fun as long as you don’t care about historical immersion, realism and how the game’s logic works. Do you want to see starving naked soldiers survive forever in -50°C while only the equipment goes into the Stratosphere? Play Hearts of Iron IV! Do you want to build an airport for the enemy at your own expense? No problem, it’s possible and really stupid. Would you like to see your soldiers shoot down enemy planes? Well, for some reason they can’t do that with their numerous machine guns, even though history tells us they did. You need very specific equipment that only shoots certain types of aircraft! Do you want to build a better fighter aircraft and see how it supports your divisions in ground combat or disrupts enemy logistics? Well, it can’t, but some other types of aircraft can, despite having the same equipment and capability as a fighter aircraft. Generals are immortal and abstract. I could go on like this for a long time.

“What was I trying to get at with this? You know, for balancing reasons, the game is very binary and limited. The game requires the player to research/build something, such as researching anti-aircraft weapons, in order to then shoot down only certain types of aircraft. To destroy other types of aircraft, the player must build anti-aircraft buildings that destroy the others, but those that destroy the others cannot destroy the first ones mentioned and vice versa. In both cases it is air defense, but its capabilities cannot be made available more dynamically. World War II did not work this way and the situation on the battlefield was much more dynamic and universal.

Of the 8 bugs reported in the forum, not a single one has been fixed in recent years; some would be done in 2 minutes. I’m not the only one who blindly reports problems on the Paradox forum that are then forgotten. The AI ​​is weak and incompetent in some parts of the game. It doesn’t even take advantage of some features created by the developers. Don’t even think about the AI ​​sending a military attaché, asking for licenses, or requesting urgently needed equipment, the AI ​​doesn’t do that.

Nowadays the game is only popular because of mods and I believe that there is no better game like Hearts of Iron IV at the moment. The unmodified vanilla game is extremely boring for experienced players, simplistic and only for those who care about achievements. If there were no mods, this game wouldn’t stay as popular for long.

If you like strategic sandbox games inspired by events of World War II and you don’t care much about logic, then go ahead. If you are a detail buff, a history enthusiast, or a fan of logic and realism, then you will have a hard time understanding this game.

Developer response divides community

How does the developer react? Below the review there is a developer response from a Paradox employee. It reads: “I’m sorry to hear that your 3,263 hours with Hearts of Iron 4 were a disappointment. We will endeavor to make your 3,264. “To make the hour as fulfilling as possible.”

This flippant answer received quite mixed reactions from the community:

  • One side criticizes the developer: the answer is childish and unprofessional, the player wrote a detailed review and expressed valid criticism.
  • Others are on the developer’s side: writing a negative review after so many hours in the game is silly. Like going to a restaurant every day only to complain about the food. However, the player could simply be “burnt out” after so many hours and need a break from Hearts of Iron IV.
  • The developer, who uses the name “Arheo” on Steam, gave another update on the situation on April 5th. It says that he and Pluto exchanged private messages weeks ago. The player would have a right to his opinion and should be left alone.

    If you want to get a picture of Hearts of Iron IV for yourself, you can do so for free until April 8, 2024 at 7:00 p.m. – that’s how long the “Free Weekend” promotion runs. During this time the game is also reduced by 80%, from €49.99 to €9.99.

    Not for the first time, someone’s playing time has caught the attention of the devs: “She’s played 16,395 hours” – Mom has been playing strategy game on Steam for so long that it even baffles the developers