Hands-on Preview – Crusader Kings III (Xbox Series S/X)

Way back in 2020, our own Thomas Medina had the chance of reviewing Crusader Kings III, and he completely fell in love with it. He loved the improvements to the game’s AI, making it really easy to get sucked in, and downright impossible to get out. In short, it was an accessible Grand Strategy game, without sacrificing its complexity: the best of both worlds.

But that was a PC game, as to be expected from a title like this. We never thought Crusader Kings III would eventually be ported for consoles, but lo and behold, not only did Paradox announce ports for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series S/X, scheduled for a few months from now, but they also gave us access to a preview build so we could see the quality of the porting process with our own eyes. And boy, did that impress us.

Crusader Kings III was already a decent looking game on PC, but nothing in it felt like it would be impossible to be recreated on a console.

I wasn’t worried about the graphics, nor the sound, nor anything related to the game’s presentation. As good looking as Crusader Kings III was back in 2020, there was nothing in it that can’t be matched with these brand new consoles. I wanted to find out if playing it with a controller wouldn’t make me want to sob. How to deal with tons of menus and lightning-fast decision-making without the aid of a trustworthy mouse? Well, it works. I still prefer a mouse, of course, but it works.

Before we even got to download the preview build, we were given a picture with the Xbox build’s control scheme. The message was clear: Paradox wanted us to get acquainted with the unusual (but effective) button mapping as quickly as possible, as you will need some time figuring out every command, shorcut, and how to quickly hover between menus with buttons instead of a cursor. There are tons of tool tips scattered throughout the entire game, and while this is something I usually turn off in games like these, I thought they were really helpful in this particular port.

Tons of menus and subscreens to navigate through. With a controller. Sounds like a nightmare, but it’s more intuitive than you’d otherwise think.

The obvious summary is that, if you have access to a PC, then this is where you should be playing Crusader Kings III. It is the platform the game was developed for, and it is the one with the best controls. With that being said, I was pleasantly surprised with this preview build, proving that even the most complex of strategy games can be enjoyed on a console when developers adapt it properly. The Xbox version of Crusader Kings III is shaping up to become a decent alternative to its PC counterpart, and I’m looking forward to the final release in a few months.


The Xbox Series S/X and PS5 versions of Crusader Kings III are scheduled for a March 29th release.