Everything we know about Age of Empires 4 so far, including release date, trailer, gameplay and more
The historical strategy series Age of Empires is finally back, and Xbox Game Studios have released new information to whet our appetites.
It might be hard to believe, but it’s been 24 years since the release of the first Age of Empires game on PC in 1997, which saw players developing a civilisation from the stone age to the Iron Age.
Age of Empires II, which arrived two years later, moved things onwards to medieval times. It was remastered in 2018, but the last new game was the third in the series in 2005, which focused on the European colonisation of the Americas.
The gameplay has always focused on gathering resources, growing your settlements, and expanding your civilisation through multiple ages. That remains the same in the new title, but (unsurprisingly) it all looks better than ever.
So, what’s new in Age of Empires 4?
Taking place across the medieval, feudal and imperial ages, you choose between eight different empires to take control of with four revealed so far: Chinese, the Delhi Sultanate, English and Mongols.
While there are parallels across each, there are also clear distinctions between them. The Mongols, for instance, can pack up their settlement and move elsewhere on the map, making for a unique experience in comparison to the other civilisations.
Other unique mechanics include different unit types, age-up options, special bonuses for city building, and an ‘influence system’ where bonuses are impacted by specific landmarks.
Age of Empires 4 will have, fittingly, four different campaigns to play through. The first of these to be shown is the age of the Normans, beginning with the 1066 Battle of Hastings.
Where previous games in the series focused on a specific historical figure, here the campaigns follow family generations across multiple chapters.
With the Normans, then, you’ll begin with the Norman Conquest of Britain as William the Conqueror and move through multiple generations towards the signing of the Magna Carta.
And if you just want to compete against others online, fear not! Competitive play will be part of Age of Empires 4.
This new game will see some tweaks and changes to combat much requested by fans.
Siege combat is now included, with units able to scale walls and defend them against huge siege weapons.
Stealth has also been added. Armies can now hide in forests and hide unseen by the enemy, where they are able to launch pouncing attacks. To counter this, scout units are able to detect enemies hiding in stealth, making them far more valuable than before.
Both of these options could have a big impact on combat and your war strategies.
Along with that, the same triangle of generic units will remain: pikemen vs ranged units vs cavalry. The developer is pushing the limits of this, though, with distinctions across the various civilisations. Navy units will also be making a return, but are yet to be shown.
With each civilisation being so distinct, the art and audio teams are representing that diversity as the game progresses.
The music, for example, is different for each civilisation and evolves along with your settlement growth through the ages. Voices will also change as language develops: for example, the Dark Ages English will be unintelligible until later on when they begin speaking Olde English.
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A tonne of research has gone into the visual aesthetics too, with historical details added to buildings and units to reflect the style and development of each civilisation.
It means the game is not only more historically accurate, but players will feel more satisfying feedback as they progress.
Age of Empires 4 is confirmed for release in ‘Fall 2021’ and will be available for PC via Steam or Xbox Game Pass.
For more information, check out the fan preview page here and see the trailer below for the game in action.