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First time MoO player here. I have heard all the great things about MoO2 and I am preparing for my first foray into the game. I would like to then continue on and play MoO3. I know from my research that many people despise MoO3, but I am wondering if it is possible to use mods in such a way to reduce the amount of automation found in MoO3 to make it match the type of gameplay of MoO2.

I have found the http://www.moo3.at/ mod site, but because there are SO many mods to choose from, I wanted pick the brains of some people here.

Thanks in advance.
I'm surprised no one has proposed the counter-question "Why stop playing MoO2 at all?".

MoO3 is a very different beast to MoO1 and 2. Where MoO1 and 2 are micromanaging various aspects of a growing empire (allocate funds to research and production, command fleets etc), MoO3 is much more of a "roleplay the emperor" kind of game. You CAN micromanage your whole empire and decide what every planet produces and control every fleet battle, but the game design clearly has in mind for you to play just one man bossing over his people. You are the policy maker, you write the laws and directives for your empire and your people (AI) will try and live up to those commands. Instead of setting up every new colony, you have already issued a general order for how different kinds of planets should be colonized. Just like in real life, you often end up looking like an incompetent politician who don't understand the real life situation and plights for the people on the ground.

I don't have much experience with the game but I think people who clamor about the game playing itself and that everything is automated are not being fair. By default it mostly is, but you can turn those features off. I guess the problem is that MoO3 is so complex and detailed that it fails to deliver the right response and entertainment the other two games provided when played this way. MoO1 and 2 are very zoomed out, you make more general decisions and get immediate results which is far more engaging than trying to do the same in MoO3 which would involve browsing through tabs, crossreferencing the manual and just dealing with tedious little details to make a whole that resembles a fast and fun empire building game. Micromanaging MoO3 to play it more like it's predecessors is just too slow and unengaging.

If MoO1 and 2 are fast play boardgames, MoO3 is the grognard simulation monstrosity that just can't seem to engage anyone who doesn't marvel at it's design more than they enjoy the outcome of the game.
Yeah, what you really want are mods that actually make the macromanagement work.

The game as released suffers from a bad interface and is full of misleading information or an outright lack of it; the end result is that you end up scratching your head as you try in vain to figure out what any given decision is actually going to DO, and the muddled-to-absent feedback doesn't improve matters.

The other problem with MOO3 - and this can largely be laid at the feet of the creative director - is that it feels sterile and lifeless due to the removal of pretty much everything that gave the first two games their thematic character. These things were all too 'silly' for the CD though, so out they went... and consequently you feel more like you're wrangling a spreadsheet than playing a game.