HOI4: Waking The Tiger DLC Review

Years before Hitler's war in Europe, Japan's expansionist ambitions targeted the fragile Chinese Republic, which had been in a state of civil war since the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912. So, can the Republic of China alongside Mao's Communist China withstand the might of the Japanese war machine? Only you can decide.

HOI4: Waking The Tiger DLC Review


Following months of anticipation, Waking the Tiger is the newest DLC to Paradox Development Studio’s fan-favourite Second World War grand strategy title. The expansion adds new gameplay options for players and completely transforms the way the game operates. Waking the Tiger places a lot of emphasis on South East Asia, particularly China during the Sino-Japanese conflict in 1937.

Moreover, the DLC sees some nations obtain their own unique focus tree, and some amendments have been made to current focus trees, such as the German Reich, where you can now oppose Hitler and re-establish the Kaiserreich (or, German Empire) under Kaiser Wilhelm II. In addition, Japan now have an amended focus tree where you can form an alliance with the Soviet Union, and the Republic of China and Communist China have their own focus trees, alongside other states within South East Asia. Therefore, on paper this DLC definitely seems pretty stupendous for fans of this title. Waking the Tiger can be purchased from Steam, for £15.49. 


As previously stated, Waking the Tiger focuses on the conflict surrounding China in the earlier part of the game. I spent the majority of time playing as Communist China, which is led by Mao Zedong, and found their unique tree particularly intriguing. Players of the game, and appreciators of their modern history, will understand that the Japanese Empire wanted to expand into South East Asia, and be able to capitalise on the vast amount of resources Manchuria and China had to offer. Although it is not a direct part of the game, it is vital to understand the context behind the DLC. Japanese expansion in South East Asia began in 1931 after the Japanese Kwantung Army invaded Manchuria and formed the puppet state Manchukuo, which is also a playable nation in the game, with their own unique national focus tree, which allows the player to break away from Japanese control and re-establish the Qing Empire. Therefore, after successes in Manchuria, Japanese attention shifted towards the Chinese front, and in July 1937, Japanese troops attacked Chinese troops stationed on the Marco Polo Bridge, thus beginning the Sino-Japanese conflict, which Waking the Tiger focuses upon.

Hearts of Iron IV: Waking the Tiger - Release Trailer

On top of new national focus trees for countries in South East Asia, the German Reich, led by infamous dictator Adolf Hitler, has a new updated tree. The German part of the update is pretty impressive and adds a multitude of new options for the player. A particularly interesting choice was to oppose Hitler, which begins a civil war, and gives the player the opportunity to re-establish the German Empire under the Kaiser. Once again, people who know their modern history, will be aware that the desires to bring back the Kaiser were quite strong, even with Hitler's high popularity which came from the economic success in the mid-1930s. I feel this particular area of the focus tree, would be enthralling when playing on multiplayer and another player reforms the Austria-Hungarian Empire, as both these nations were close allies during the First World War. I also noticed that if you go down the Oppose Hitler tree, Hitler flees to Argentina if the Monarchists succeed in the civil war, which is an amusing touch. However, the only downside to re-establishing the Kaiserreich is that it limits your gameplay options in single player, as you can no longer form the Axis Faction with Italy and world tension has to be high in order for you to declare war. Additionally, Japan now have the option to form an alliance with the Soviet Union, and go down paths of different ideology as opposed to just remaining facist. This will make the game interesting, particularly on a multiplayer game, as the Axis faction would only consist of European nations if Japan was to take a different idealogical pathway. 

Overall, Waking the Tiger adds a massive amount of the new options for the player, which seems to dramatically change the game's narrative, how it operates and plays out for the player. With this, Asia is now one of the most interesting regions of the world to play in. I'm yet to play the DLC multiplayer, but I feel with the new added choices players can make in their national focus trees, it will definitely make the game more compulsive. 


Waking the Tiger adds a whole heap of new gameplay features to Hearts of Iron IV. One of the biggest decisions was the inclusion of 'decisions'. These allow the player to take their country down certain pathways such as 'War Propaganda' which increases the desire for war within your country and 'Promises of Peace' which acts as the contrary to 'War Propaganda' and allows you to focus more so on your nations industry. The decisions in Communist China were the most captivating out of all the nations I have played so far, as you are able to begin border skirmishes in order to obtain more territory from surrounding states. However, the amount of decisions are limited, and I feel Paradox should include more choices in further updates and expansions. However, I think the modding community of Hearts of Iron IV will be able to capitalise on this, particularly in certain mods like the Kaiserreich.

HOI4: Waking The Tiger DLC Review - You can now oppose Hitler and re-establish the Kaiserreich

Furthermore, the chain of command has undergone a dramatic amendment. Now, your armies must unite under one Field Marshall, which allows you to take advantage of the many skills of the Generals under his direction. I must admit this change does make the game harder and more complex, as you can no longer have a mega army under one overpowered Field Marshall. But, despite making the game more difficult, this change does make the game much more realistic, and actually parallel to what it would be like to control a nations army in real life. With this change, you really do have to micro-manage your divisions, which is good in the sense that you have to spend a lot more time superintending your divisions. But, I found that when you push forward it often creates holes in your army (particularly on a large front) which the enemy push through, precipitating your divisions to become encircled costing valuable manpower. So, it is clear that issues need to be fixed in future patches, but I feel the chain of command system of is a welcome addition to the game.

HOI4: Waking The Tiger DLC Review - The chain of the command addition makes the game more realistic, but much harder
Besides the alterations to the chain of command and decisions, the AI of the game seems have been improved, as leaders seem to make rational decisions, such as defending cities. It is true that this does make the game more burdensome, as you can no longer have your troops walk into Moscow and Stalingrad instantly capitulating the Soviet Union, but definitely makes the game more interesting and rewarding when you actually defeat a nation. Moreover, certain events which are not part of the Waking the Tiger DLC seemed to have been balanced, such as the Spanish Civil War, which now seems to be more even rather than being heavily in favour of General Francisco Franco's Nationalist Spain.  

Graphics and Audio

In terms of graphics, Waking the Tiger changes very little. The new items that have been added such as  decisions and envoys all have unadorned little images, which suit the style of the game. However, despite the minimal change in the graphics, Hearts of Iron IV now has some additional tracks, which are relevant to the Sino-Chinese conflict, and really fit well in the atmosphere of the game. You can listen to one of my favourite tracks below:

Hearts Of Iron 4: Waking the Tiger OST Battle Of Wuhan

I have found, even with the Sabaton pack, the tracks in Hearts of Iron IV, although very good, can get repetitive at times. Therefore, the inclusion of new musical scores is fantastic and plays a pivotal role in the success of Waking the Tiger. Moreover, the additional tracks are beautifully composed and fit in well with the Asia centric content of the DLC. 


In summary, Waking the Tiger is a great addition to the game. It sees a complete revamp of the gameplay interface, new tracks to the OST and adds unaccustomed focus trees which makes the conflict surrounding South East Asia very intriguing. Although the chain of the command system makes the game more difficult and complex, it allows the player to have a realistic experience of what it is like to manage an army. However, despite the positives, it is clear there are some bugs that have arisen from the DLC, which need to be fixed as soon as possible by the developers, particularly with the gaps that develop on your front lines – which can prove to be costly if your divisions are encircled.

HOI4: Waking The Tiger DLC Review - Conflict in South East Asia is much more engaging due to the content the DLC adds
However, my favourite addition of Waking the Tiger is most definitely the unique focus trees, particularly for the German Reich, Communist China and the Republic of China. Whilst playing the DLC, I found Communist China was the most fun to play, as the new national focus tree allows players to explore the different roots the Chinese communists could have taken to achieve their revolution, making the conflict in China galvanising. Bearing this in mind, I feel it is essential to state that I feel more nations should receive unique and updated national focus trees, in particular Britain, Spain and Latin American nations. I feel it would be good to have a Cuban national focus tree that allows you to go communist before Fidel Castro seized power in 1959.

Therefore, the content that comes with Waking the Tiger definitely revolutionises the game, but will take a lot of time for players (including myself) to become fully accustomed to. For only £15.49 on Steam, Waking the Tiger is well worth your time due to sheer amount of new content that is added. In regards to the bugs, a studio like Paradox, will not take much time at all to resolve these issues.

+ Unique and updated national focus trees make the game more enjoyable – Chain of command is sometimes buggy and makes the game more complex 
+ Chain of command makes the game more realistic and promotes micro-management of divisions  – Decisions are good addition, but it would benefit if there was more choice
+ AI has become more balanced – More nations need unique and updated focus trees
+ Beautiful new musical scores 

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