Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor DLC Review -- An Underwhelming Addition
Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor is Paradox Interactive's most recent expansion to its WW2 grand strategy game. With a name like Death or Dishonor, anyone with a historical knowledge of Japan's Sengoku period would assume its DLC related to that, or to Asia in general.
Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Sorry China -- you'll just have to deal with the generic national focus tree Paradox cursed you with. Because in spite of whatever historically informed opinion you might have, Death or Dishonor doesn't have anything to do with Japan, or Asia, or anything even vaguely relevant to that part of the world. Instead, this DLC is focused on the Balkan area of Europe.
Death or Dishonor in Southeastern Europe
Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia are the four countries this Hearts of Iron IV DLC targets -- adding a range of country events, leader portraits, music, and most importantly, unique national focus trees. Unfortunately, this leaves Austria and Bulgaria sitting there, completely out of place with no change to their National Focus trees. Paradox could have put more effort into these countries as well, considering they are influenced greatly by this DLC.
These added focus trees are the major change you'll see with the Death or Dishonor DLC. And it really changes the gameplay for certain countries. Hungary, for example, becomes one of the most interesting of these countries when it's given the ability to invite the Habsburgs back into power and reform the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Romania focuses on dealing with their lavish king and his ornate lifestyle, which deeply affects the efficiency of the government. Czech is allowed to focus more on denying the Germans the Sudetenland, or willingly giving up the region in an attempt to keep some autonomy. Finally, Yugoslavia gets a slew of options for handling the increasing unrest from angry Croatian separatists and poor national unity.
Other (non-nation) changes include an equipment conversion feature that allows you to turn captured enemy gear into a more usable local variant, and the ability to convert older equipment into more up-to-date variants. Military variants can be purchased or sold to other countries, as well -- meaning theoretically you can build British Spitfires as any country, if they sell you the license.
Fascists also gain new levels over subjects -- such as the Reichskommissariat, which forces their puppets to grant them their equipment licenses, partial industry, and strategic resources. Governments affected by Fascist overlord control will also find it much more difficult to break free from this grasp.
Potentially Interesting, But Poorly Executed
Overall, the additions in Death or Dishonor strike me as trifling and lacking major depth. The ability to purchase licenses is irrelevant given that most times, you could simply come up with a functional equivalen -- or simply surpass what the still horrid AI can come up with. New national focuses, whilst good in their own right, should honestly have been either part of the base game in the beginning or released later as a free patch. Paying to have vital content that should already be accessible leaves a bad taste in my mouth -- and the cost to gain ratio doesn't even out either.
There are still bugs regarding many events linked to new focuses as well. One glaring example is the event for Austria to accept Hungary's invitation for coming together as one nation again. On multiple playthroughs, I've had the event fire for Austria accepting, and then a single in game hour later the same event fires as them refusing to agree. Romania has a few of these "false start" style events, too, which seem to fire both a success and fail.
Unfortunately Death or Dishonor is nothing special to write home about. Several of its new features are never really useful, the new national focus trees are just mediocre, and things are still pretty buggy. Rather than pushing the DLC, I still recommend free, player-made mods to get the ultimate Hearts of Iron IV experience.