Age of Empires 4 key art

Age of Empires 4 comments

Age of Empires 4 comments


need to know

What is it? Historical real-time strategy set in the Middle Ages.
Expect to pay 60 USD/50 GBP (or via Xbox Game Pass)
release October 28, 2021
Developer Cultural Relics Entertainment
Publisher Xbox Game Studio
Review date Ryzen 7 5800H, Nvidia GeForce 3070 (mobile), 16GB RAM
multiplayer game? Up to eight players online
Associate Official website

Based on its evidence of the eternal despotism of the RTS type, there is a reason for not transcending Age of Empires 2-now its “decisive” form. Its competition scene is booming, and people are enjoying its ongoing DLC. Just like the bread distributed by the benevolent ruler, its gorgeous sprites have a cleanliness that 3D graphics can’t seem to match.

So, on the one hand, it makes sense for the new series developer Relic to decide to loosely model Age of Empires 4 on the beloved second entry. It removes some of the complexity of Age of Empires 3 and returns to that lovely cycle of exploration-economics-conquest, while adding most of its own popular elements. Chief among them are the asymmetric factions, which almost certainly cause bloody and unbalanced screams, but are still regarded as the game’s greatest success.

On the other hand, reverence for the past may be limited, and I can’t help feeling what Age of Empires 4 could have been more. Although I respect Relic’s pretty safe decision, this should lead to something that already exists real Shine; polish the minarets of the mosques and the Moscow onion domes, raise those population restrictions, and let the corpses fly Physics-y Give up the impact of cannonballs and elephant heads.

(Image source: Microsoft)

On the contrary, there was a steady utilitarianism for most of Age of Empires 4-everything in it work As always, but without the talent that can make it a grand celebration of the eternal AoE formula.

However, these menus leave a good first impression: the victory of the Age of Empires theme explodes in your ears, and the golden lines of the medieval world map sparkle in the background. Here, you have the classic skirmish mode, of course, there are four battles and a series of war art tutorials, so you can deal with various economic and military challenges. Sadly, without historical battles, a few skirmish “presets” feel like terrible alternatives to the classic series’ features.

These movements followed the Normans, Mongols, Russ and British across three different eras. A clear documentary video was inserted in each battle, showing shots of today’s important castles, towns, landscapes and battlefields, with hundreds of wireframe soldiers superimposed on them; the close-up shots of the Bayeux Tapestry are very detailed, I You can almost use its coarse cloth to floss your teeth.

The documentary style permeates the event itself, and most of the stories are told through narrators rather than game characters. It keeps you away from Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan, Henry I, Ivan the Terrible, and other promoters, shakers, and predators of medieval history. Considering the history of the great RTS story of Relic and the Dawn of War, it’s kind of disappointing.

(Image source: Microsoft)

Sometimes, it does feel like a neat presentation skirt around the ugly part of history. For example, it seems a bit convenient to draw a map of the Mongols’ conquest over decades without mentioning the centrality of terror and massacre to their strategy. In any case, the event throws a lot of excellent set-pieces; there is the battle of Xiangyang that made Kublai Khan the emperor of China, Dmitry Donskoy’s power transfer to defeat the Mongols in Kurikovo, and the West The Battle of Bremüller made Britain a regional power. These tasks are not easy. On standard difficulty, I found that I had to quickly wrap my fingers around the new keyboard shortcuts to keep up with the efficient, nagging enemies.

Damn, it’s fun to try different civilizations and learn their unique ways

But these smooth battles are just a preface to the story you will make on a skirmish map that provides eight eclectic civilizations. This is not a huge number, but the visual and strategic differences between these factions are one of the most important evolutions in the series.

Age of Empires 4 may not have the balanced e-sports appeal of AoE 2, but it’s fun to try different civilizations and learn their unique ways. The Mongolian is the largest wildcard, able to pack an entire town into a cart and relocate to any place on the map. I also had a lot of fun with the Sultanate of Delhi, trampling on my hapless AI enemy with their unanswerable war elephants. Delhi uses stationed scholars instead of resources to research technology, which turns the blacksmith into a kind of enduring research laboratory, ticking in the background while you continue to work on other things. Even the relatively ordinary British have no less than 10 unique characteristics. In their case, they are mainly focused on agriculture and building a network of defensive structures to provide speed bonuses for your units.

(Image source: Microsoft)

As you grow older, your strategic path will be further refined, when you can choose one of two civilization-specific landmarks to develop your empire in different directions. For example, the powerful Holy Roman Empire can destroy Burgrave Palace, which can produce units of five people as a group, while Rus High Trade House generates its own deer, feeds the Rus bounty mechanism, and earns gold coins through hunting.

Some civilizations even have their own twists and turns for aging. The Abbasid dynasty added wings to their house of wisdom instead of building new landmarks, while the Chinese can build two landmarks in each era and establish a dynasty, which will provide you with a difference in the rest of the game Rewards. You can even “build tall” and the Abbasids and the Holy Roman Empire will receive rewards based on the buildings you place near their central structure.

Although the core mechanics and loops will be familiar, the well-designed selection of civilization and age provides a complex network of new strategies and methods for each game. This is Relic’s bravest evolution of the precious AoE formula, and it does diversify the game, even if large-scale online games in the coming months may reveal a large number of balance issues. But hey, this is part of a series of processes that can improve and iterate a single title for years.

After starting a new game, returning players will immediately adapt to the rhythm of resource collection, villager spam, reconnaissance, and heinous frontline settlement (especially effective for nomadic Mongolians). Victory conditions have been smoothed to maintain the pace of the game, military conquest now only requires you to destroy enemy landmarks, the number of which increases with age.

(Image source: Microsoft)

For religious victory, you can no longer bring the holy artifacts back to the safe area of ​​the base, but must stay in all the holy places on the map for 10 minutes. Given their central location on the map, this should encourage a more intense strategy than the sneaky hoarding of AoE artifacts in the past. But you defensive turtles don’t worry: the miracle victory—you build a miracle in the late game and hold it for 10 minutes—is still there.

Since infantry troops can make siege hammers and towers, the feeling of siege is much better. You no longer need to guide your rams and elongated siege towers across the entire map, it does wonders for the rhythm, and it can also enter the newly expanded stone wall. Sadly, I haven’t found all the strategic advantages of the siege tower, instead of hitting the wall with a trebuchet from a safe distance. On the other hand, placing soldiers defensively on the wall can provide more sight. I shamelessly use this to counter AI by building stone walls in their business, using wall-mounted archers to pick key economic buildings. .

Finally, the ability to quickly rotate and position unit groups on the axis is ideal for combat micromanagement, allowing you to set up defensive positions or appropriate army formations more elegantly than before. These are not big changes, but they all help the battle feel cleaner.

Although a 30-minute Age of Empires game ostensibly spans decades of technological advancement, the series has never really evoked the feeling of time passing. As far as everything I knew while playing the original AoE, Rome was really built in a day. “Age of Empires 4” resolves this disharmony through some keen sense of touch. For example, when you demolish a building, you will see accelerated wireframe outlines of builders appearing in different locations around the construction site—a bit like an old stop-motion shot of a skyscraper under construction. Each civilization also has its own soundtrack, which is perfectly integrated with the menu music and evolves with the development of the times. They are magnificent little things that can increase your compression journey, ironically, in a game that actually seems to be a bit faster than its predecessors.

(Image source: Microsoft)

However, for every thoughtful adjustment and function, there will be an equally opposite mistake that makes Age of Empires 4 shrink from its greatness, because God bless It is better than the gods.

The building and ground textures are on the faded side (no, I would not accept the explanation that this is just part of the game’s more “painting” artistic style). Back to “Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition” for comparison, I found that the textures there are not only clearer, but by allowing you to zoom in further, the game will display them more safely.

For every thoughtful adjustment and function, there will be an equal and opposite error that will make Age of Empires 4 shrink from the great.

When it comes to zooming, the combination of high camera angles and limited zoom out makes the field of view very narrow. I would love to see some free camera features that allow you to appreciate your urban planning and enter the essence of battle, or at least the classic isometric view options.

And fighting still feels too Polite, Because the troops and the cavalry charge each other just to stop before the collision and start slamming each other with their little sticks-this is a bit shocking, I still have to use the 2004 Battle of Middle-earth as an example of the cavalry collision well-done’. The unit near the enemy war elephant seems to be dead, and when the castle wall falls off from below the unit or bombards the unit, there is no vitality. Likewise, keeping the population cap at the traditional 200 people means that the battle will never really reach the scale that the trailer teases you (unless it is carefully planned by the battle).

(Image source: Microsoft)

But maybe others who I think are anachronistic will think it is purism; a game that fanatically maintains excellent formulas until its strange civil war, and the non-existent carousel animation, looks a bit loose on its axis Revolving carousel pony. The fact remains that the powerful AoE loop, a little more refined, is still as eye-catching as ever, embellished by a colorful roster of truly unique civilizations. Understanding the uniqueness of each faction makes the inevitable introduction of new factions an attractive prospect.

Age of Empires 4 has a strong foundation for real growth, but it appeared when Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition was adding the long-awaited cooperative battles and ever-expanding historical battle library.In contrast, Age of Empires 4 seems a bit thin, especially for a £50 game (on the contrary, it is definitely a brilliant Released on the first day of Xbox Game Pass).

Relic told us last month that they don’t plan to steal AoE 2’s player base or…

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.