All of the waiting has paid off. Microsoft has unveiled a plethora of new footage and information regarding the highly anticipated Age of Empires 4. From Mongols to AoE Wololos, there’s plenty to unpack.
All of this new info came from a fan preview event hosted by Xbox. The video, running about 26 minutes long, showcased all sorts of information about the upcoming RTS, including everything we’re going to talk about here.
Let’s start with the civilizations. According to developers at Relic Entertainment, the game will feature eight different civs to play from at launch. The classic cultures like English and Chinese will make their expected return. Joining them for the first time will be the Delhi Sultanate, an Islamic empire based in the Delhi region of India.
Each civ will have unique traits and qualities, like usual. While we don’t know the full scope of these abilities, we do get a sneak peek at some. Two particularly interesting features were the elephant units available to the Delhi Sultanate’s and the Mongol’s ability to pack up and relocate their buildings and structures.
In a Q&A session with the devs, they explain that they want the game maps to play toward various empire’s strengths and flaws. Some examples given were how large, open maps would benefit the nomadic nature of the Mongols, while mountainous zones with choke points would benefit a defensive empire like the English. They do stress that while they do play towards these aspects, they want to keep games balanced enough for players to still viably play whatever empire they wanted.
Relic revealed that there would be four different campaigns to play through. They detailed one of them, while keeping the other three a secret. The detailed one was called Norman Conquest, presumably recreating the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of Normans (residents of Normandy).
They hope to make these campaigns educational, to a degree. Each story will use documentary footage and narrations about the real life historical events that the sessions are based on.
Enough learning. It’s time to hear about some gameplay stuff. Age of Empires 4 will feature a number of new mechanics that will be real game changers when used correctly. Here are a few that we saw.
- Stealth Force: the ability to hide your units from enemy sight, allowing ambushes.
- Wall Defense: units can station themselves both in front of and on top of defense walls, allowing for additional fortification.
- Area of Effect Wololo: we only caught a quick glimpse of this, we saw a Wololo conversion spell activate in an area, converting numerous units around the monk at once. We don’t know the details of this action, but we sure want to know more.
The Smaller Details
They touched on a number of less interesting, but still noteworthy changes, as well. This includes graphical improvements like 4K resolution and HDR support, and engine upgrades like improved pathfinding AI for large armies.
They also talked about updates coming to Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition, with various changes and tweaks to improve gameplay.
And finally, when can we expect the game? While they didn’t give an official release date, they did offer a release window. Currently, they’re expecting to launch the game on PC some time in Fall 2021.
To give credit where due, games journalist Jeff Grubb did make a statement about a month ago, saying that they expected a big Age of Empires 4 info release around this time. Good call, Grubb.