“…Democracy 3’s Electioneering DLC is a hit and miss expansion…”
Democracy 3 was released almost three years ago by developers Positech Games. Three years down the line, and the deservedly popular political simulator is still being supported by both its creators and the fans that love to play it. The most recent expansion to the game comes in the form of the Electioneering DLC, which attempts to bring the missing element of political campaigning into the already detailed mix. This is perhaps the most game-changing idea to be presented since the game’s initial release, offering an entirely new strategy to play with. I dived back into the depths of Democracy to try it out.
The Electioneering DLC brings several new features to the table, which sets it aside from the previous DLC packs that the game has received. Where these simply offered new policies to put into action, following a new theme in the gameplay meta, Electioneering adds a brand new way to play the game which forces you to alter your usual style of play. Making speeches and manifesto promises, advertising your campaign through media stunts, forming (and optionally fulfilling) a manifesto, finding and encouraging donors and simply following the polls all come into play in the Electioneering DLC. This makes getting re-elected less of a lottery or policy balancing act and more of a strategic game plan. Or at least, that is the idea…
Electioneering has the potential to help players who might have been struggling to please their electorates before. The option to gather support through public perceptions, rather than policies alone, allows you to attract segments of the electorate who might usually have been strongly against your government. However, that doesn’t make it much easier not to get assassinated by angry onlookers, and you certainly cannot use the new features alone to succeed. Trust me, I tried to win re-election without setting any new policies, using only the Electioneering features and my ability to repeatedly alter my cabinet members. Needless to say, the Capitalists still weren’t happy. For some of the players who were doing just fine before the DLC, it may feel like an unnecessary alteration to an already working structure. In changing the way that you should play the game, Electioneering makes old strategies almost irrelevant, and whilst the additional content doesn’t overhaul the style of the game, the ability to “win” without making actual changes does make it feel regrettably like a less challenging experience.
In terms of the new DLC’s integration into the wider Democracy 3 experience, this has been done very well. The new features blend into the mix as though they had always been there, and beyond their main intended purpose they also add new ways to see your successes and shortfalls. New graphs make it easier to see your growth in popularity with some sections of the electorate and the difficulties you might be having with others. You can also easily see your progress in these respects against the progress of your opponents. Manifestos allow you to see which policies will bring you greater popularity, before you go ahead and enforce them. Media stunts can come with big risks but offer big rewards. Donors need to be kept happy in their respective electorate groups to secure funding. The new DLC definitely grows the Democracy 3 experience, offering an entirely new level of detail to the political sim.
The price point of £4.79 (on Steam at the time of writing) is pretty reasonable for the new additional content on offer, but you won’t come out feeling like it was an overwhelmingly fantastic deal. You get what you pay for with the Electioneering package, and whilst this is no bad thing given that the content certainly works for the game, it feels as though there is still room for more. Your experience is expanded just enough to be worth it, but not much further beyond that. It changes the game, but it isn’t really a game changer for Democracy 3.
All of this being said, would I recommend the Democracy 3 Electioneering DLC? As a person with a keen interest in the sociology of politics, which largely includes the election processes behind the democratic system, I would say yes. It is good to finally get this side of the picture in Democracy 3, as it fills in a gap in an already exceptional political simulator. If you only have a basic, casual interest in the game on the other hand, this one might not be for you. There is no dramatic meta change to appreciate here, just a subtle and fitting addition which moderately expands the overall experience. The true value of the Electioneering DLC to you personally will really revolve around how you like to play and where your interests sit.
Objectively speaking, Democracy 3’s Electioneering DLC is a hit and miss expansion for the game. On the one hand, it successfully integrates a new and exciting expansion to the political simulation which offers you an interesting new way to play the game. It is a more strategic concept for the game to take on board and it works well in this respect. On the other hand, the additional content is somewhat limited, going no further than giving you precisely what you pay for. This gives the package a reasonable value for money, but those who play casually or have been having a steady ride with the game up until now might find it to be an unnecessary interruption to the traditional play style. If a growth of the wider simulation sounds up your street, then give Electioneering a go. If you only play the game casually or like the way that the game plays already, then maybe wait for the DLC to hit the sales before you pick this one up.