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Impressions of the Age of Empires IV Review-Real-time strategy is back in mainstream

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Real-time strategy is back, baby. OK, it didn’t really disappear. But it’s back for mainstream gamers who haven’t seen a major release like Age of Empires IV for a while.

Microsoft will announce a new Age of Empires franchise on PC on Thursday. I have often seen the campaign part of the game. I’ll do a full multiplayer review later, but these are my impressions when playing the introductory Norman single player campaign. In a nutshell, it’s designed for mainstream gamers.

I played on Steam, but it will also be released on PC Windows 10 and Windows 11 and the Xbox Game Pass for PC. I can’t remember the last time I played the Age of Empires game. We have remade the classic titles Definitive Edition of Age of Empires II and III. I think the main purpose of these games was to re-accustom people to the Age of Empires gameplay before the fourth game was released.

The Segas Relic Entertainment division has been producing games since 2017 with Microsofts Worlds Edge Studio, which manages the Age of Empires franchise. I feel that the RTS genre should be a mass market, not a niche, so I’m happy to finally be here. This title is actually the successor director to the Age of Empires II.

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RTS games are best played with a mouse and keyboard combination and are much more difficult to play with a game controller. In short, the game is difficult to develop, but it doesn’t reach many fans and isn’t popular. Blizzard Entertainment RTS’s efforts with new installments in franchises such as StarCraft and Warcraft have seen major failures.

Above: You can zoom in quite close with Age of Empires IV.

Image Credit: Microsoft / Relic

The Microsofts Age of Empires franchise has been stagnant since 2005 (except for some retro remakes), but other major players have the RTS flag. In Segas The Creative Assembly, Total War: Warhammer III has appeared, Total War: Rome Remastered has been released, Total War Saga: Troy has been released, and so on. Eugen Systems, meanwhile, is doing a great job with the World War II title in the Steel Division series. Other startups working on RTS titles are Frost Giant Studios and SunSpear games.

However, Age of Empires IV has the potential to take advantage of the much greater opportunities of RTS in the mainstream. Microsoft’s success at the Age of Empires began in 1997, and the fusion of history and RTS generated so much revenue that, in addition to Microsoft Flight Simulator, it significantly expanded corporate gaming investment and ultimately the Xbox. It led to the debut of the game. 2001 console.

The Age of Empires and its sequels sold over 20 million copies, but Microsoft closed Ensemble Studios during the Great Recession in 2009. Other games had a higher priority at Microsoft.

Beautiful new game

Above: Age of Empires IV features Delphi Sultan.

Image Credit: Microsoft / Relic

Age of Empires IV is easier to look at than its predecessor. This new game takes advantage of the graphics improvements of the last 15 years to allow more details to be used by the individual characters and buildings that make up the 4K HDR battlefield scene.

Age of Empires IV has eight civilizations. The single-player campaign begins in 1066 when William the Conqueror conquered England as a Norman. The first mission after the tutorial is the Battle of Hastings, which is great for learning the game. Anglo-Saxon The army of King Harrold, the defense king of England, confronted William from Norman, France. There is no real way to compare the number of soldiers on the battlefield to the actual number of real troops, but the game is good for expressing in a way that leaves the proper size of the troops and the look of the battlefield. You marvel at the graphics.

I didn’t mind that there weren’t more than 200 soldiers on the battlefield. Because this game did a great job of making me feel like I was in combat as a commander.

Harold’s army had to first go north to defeat the Viking invasion and then rush south to meet William at a place called Senrak Hill. The tutorial teaches that it was a bad idea to rush head-on into the shield wall of Harold’s soldiers. However, William pretended to retreat, causing Harold’s army to run down the hill and open a gap in the line. William then chose a smaller group with his reinforcements. And he raised a shooter to take the straggler out. He then raised a cavalry to attack Harold’s archers and finally killed Harold.

This turned out to be a great way to teach the nature of rock-paper-scissors in medieval combat. There, the spear soldiers worked well against the cavalry. Of sword infantry. Each stage of the battle is narrated and the developers include videos from the battlefield so you even feel like you’re there. It gives players a proper awareness of the importance of the battle that has changed England forever.

History is told in an interesting way, and such storytelling has made me engaged in each mission. After that first mission, I marched north as William to the rebel base in York. This battle was different and tougher. I had to take over some villages and start building a large army. And when I did, I marched straight to the fortress of York. There was a wall to protect it.

My army wasn’t the strongest, but there were a lot of cavalry. So I moved straight to the enemy fortress. And I was slaughtered. I returned to the base and rebuilt the army. Then I did some reconnaissance and discovered that the enemy had a large town around the fortress, which produced a lot of gold, wood, and food to replenish the enemy army. .. That’s why they are so strong and difficult to beat.

So when I rebuilt, I attacked the buildings in the surrounding towns and burned everything down. They also built some infantry-generating buildings near the front, so they had to walk far to fight. And finally I attacked the fortress and wiped out the enemy.

I had to continue busy farming, protect civilians, build buildings, form troops, and move them to the front lines. Next, we needed to monitor the emerging battles across the map and respond with the right amount of force and rock-paper-scissors tactics. It was much stronger than I expected.

There are multiple battles like this in the campaign, arranged to require the use of strategies to overcome the enemy’s dominance in defensive castles and heavily armored knights. In each battle, the developers talked about the situation where troops were to gather in the open air and in front of the ramparts, paying attention to far more Norman conquests than history books.

Big game

Overall, the game has four campaigns. There is narration for Mongolian and Chinese campaigns and support for Navy gameplay. The four campaigns have 35 missions spanning 500 years of history.

Players can ambush by placing units in the stealth forest. This allows the player to hide the unit from enemies unless the scout finds the unit first. Soldiers can dodge attackers by shooting down from the walls, and attackers can use siege weapons.

As Shannon Loftis, head of the WorldsEdge studio, said in a post, the developer’s purpose was to represent history, people and culture in a genuine and respectful way. That is the idea behind the campaign and the details of the armed forces of different cultures. Microsoft has heard from long-time Age of Empires fans through the community council.

I think the effect is that Age of Empires IV is made in a very accessible way, whether you’re a history enthusiast or trying to play a combat-rich Civ-style game. The tutorials and the Norman Conquest campaign are examples of good FTUE, the first user experience.

If you want to skip a lot of tactics and microplay, the developers have created a difficulty mode called Story Mode. This allows you to command your army and win battles without stress. Instead, players can embark on an interactive march throughout history. But as I’ve found in many York-like battles, it’s not all easy.

Multiplayer

Above: Age of Empires IV Chinese faction.

Image Credit: Microsoft

I’m not yet engaged in multiplayer combat, but I can collaborate or watch up to 7 friends in player-versus-player (PvP) and player-versus-environment (PvE) multiplayer modes. There is a series of hands-on historical documentary videos. The game has multiple upgrades that you can perform as you develop new technologies such as better armor, catapults, and trebuchets.

The character speaks something like a cute Gibberish. And there are many lives around us, such as deer that can be hunted. The map is quite large, so you can think of multiple routes to success. After all, this is a strategy game where you need to find a way to betray your thinking enemies.

Played on a Falcon Northwest machine with Nvidia GeForce GTX 3080 graphics. That was far more than I needed. The game requires a 64-bit processor and Windows 10 version 18362.0 or later. The processor requires an Intel i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 1600 running at 3.6GHz. It requires 16 GB of RAM graphics and a minimum of GeForce GTX 970 or Radeon RX 570 GPU with 4 GB of VRAM. Uses DirectX 12 and 50GB hard drive space.

Conclusion

Above: You can zoom in quite close with Age of Empires IV.

Image Credit: Microsoft / Relic

As I said. It’s been a long time since I played the Age of Empires game, so I needed additional tutorial help, fascinating historical videos, and narration to keep playing in single-player campaigns. I think this game is easy to access and learn, but it’s also very deep for veterans of real-time strategy. I want to see more RTS games on the market, so I hope it works. But this can keep fans busy for a long time, as far as I know now.

I haven’t scored yet until I can play more games.

Microsoft has provided a review code for playing the game on Steam.

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