Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition arrives to give a second chance to a title that has always lived in the shadow of Age of Empires 2. The game once introduced some revolutionary new features for the franchise, such as the metropolis, the cards and the experience points. This edition brings together all the existing content and introduces some interesting news, although somewhat scarce. In these first impressions of AoE 3: DE we talked about its peculiarities, the improvements in this version and its new content.
One of the classics of real-time strategy will soon be remastered. Tantalus Media and Forgotten Empires are in charge of Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition , which will arrive on October 15 to Steam and Microsoft shop, as well as the Xbox Game Pass. Ensemble Studios, authors of the original, even declared that this game was a mistake. I would not dare to say that this was the case at all, but it is true that the features that were introduced in the game were not received equally well by all players, and it has even lived in the shadow of Age of Empires 2 for many. The mechanics of the metropolis, the need to increase experience, the builds that we can do with the cards or the lack of realism in certain aspects, such as the fact that there is no need to store or move resources, made the difference with the previous titles of the saga, although I consider that AoE 3 has aged quite well. The game places us between the 16th and 19th centuries, in the middle of the colonization of America, and introduces firearms and other more advanced units. We can develop our civilizations over five ages, starting in the Age of Discovery and continuing through the Imperial Age.
This new edition brings some interesting new features, but I honestly think that they do not justify the change from the classic version to the new one too much, beyond its updated graphics and sound, which make the game look and feel spectacular. But let’s go in parts. To begin, it must be made clear that Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition includes, how could it be otherwise, all the expansions that came out for the original. Therefore, we have the fourteen civilizations, with the addition of two totally new ones, the Swedes and the Incas., for a total of sixteen. Of course, both have their cities (Stockholm and Cuzco), special units and, in general, everything we can expect from these additions. And yes, the voices of the settlers and the units in their language have also been included, details that seem particularly important to me, because they help a little more to immerse the game.
A remastering that fans of the game will love
In addition to the new civilizations, this new version of AoE 3 introduces two game modes: The Art of War and Historical Battles . As for the first, I must admit that it seems to me a very successful addition. This mode basically acts as a tutorial . The interesting thing is that it also teaches us metagame conceptsso that we can understand a little better the different strategies that we can develop in a game. Do we prefer to base our growth on resource gathering and have colonists working non-stop, or perhaps we can try to focus our advance on the military realm? These strategic teachings accompanied, as I say, by everything you need to learn to play, seem to me an addition worthy of applause. I honestly think that Tantalus Media and Forgotten Empires have thought of all those Xbox Game Pass players who might come close to the titlewithout being experts in strategy, because in just over an hour you learn the basics of the video game. By the way, if you are experienced players, I also recommend that you try the mode, because each of the ten phases is presented as a challenge : if we are tremendously fast, we can get the gold medal; if not, we will choose the silver or bronze one. This challenge is an incentive for those who master Age of Empires 3, who can also enjoy this new mode.
As for the Historical Battles, I have to say that from what I have tried they have reminded me a lot of the Campaign itself. There is a predetermined map and a small story that is happening, and we will have to fulfill the objectives that are set for us. Both in this mode and in the Campaign there are main objectives and other secondary objectives, but we will only need to complete the first ones to overcome each screen. As for the Campaign, I have had access to the first, “Blood, ice and steel . ” I have never been a special lover of these modes in these games, but I have to tell you that the remastering looks pretty good here. Sometimes I have wished they were longer, because they introduced me in a very good way to the mission that came later. Of course, something I did not like is that the videos of the game, both in the Campaign and, for example, in The Art of War, are in 4: 3 format . I can’t quite understand if it was a nod to classic games or what was the reason for not adapting this to the full-screen format, but I admit that it has not convinced me.
Another novelty that we have to talk about is the HUD , and here I have to say that some players still see it as a step back from the original. In Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition the user interface changes significantly and, to begin with, the circle containing the map is displayed on the right. In addition, the information rectangle of buildings or units appears when we select one or a group on the left side (and disappears when deselecting). Personally, I have to admit that the information from the units has repeatedly bothered me because it obscured my vision, something that has probably also helped the fact that the camera can be zoomed out little. I have the constant feeling thatI could have a more distant view of what is happening on the screen and I have found myself repeatedly clicking the mouse wheel, as if I did not want to accept that I had already reached the limit of distance. It’s strange, because on the contrary, we can get very close to buildings or units. In general, although obviously the HUD looks more modern and clean, I think that it is not a very successful modification and I am curious to see how players react to the changes introduced in such an important element in this type of games, because we need constant information of what happens. That said, in the game options we have the option to slightly modify the place of the HUD elements, being able to choose between three default configurations.
By the way, when our scouts fall in battle (these units cannot die) and are in the process of “resurrection”, a little dialogue appears above them in which they tell us bitterly how hard life is. This small rectangle has also bothered me on more than one occasion and is completely dispensable . I understand that it is there to warn us of its presence and that we do not get lost there, but I think that a small sign above the unit would have been enough.
Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition; The usual, but much prettier
If you have played the original, you will already know the importance of the metropolises and their development, but still you will allow me to talk about them. In the game, each civilization has a central city that acts as the nerve center of military operations. When we play skirmishes against the machine or online, the level of each city goes up. That allows us to improve it in a kind of manager, a completely separate mode, and change its appearance. This in itself is a minor feature, but the importance of metropolises lies in the fact that as we level up, we will be able to make better shipping requests.. And this for what? In Age of Empires 3 we can gain experience during the game if we do certain activities. When we reach a specific number of points, we go up a level and we can request that our metropolis send us shipments. These reinforcements can turn the tide of battle and improve as we age. In the metropolis mode, we can prepare our shipments, as if it were a deck from a card game. Really, knowing how to build a good shipping development means understanding the game a lot, but if you are beginning players you can use the default ones and, if you dare, make changes little by little. This mechanic continues in this edition, of course, and I have to say that it seems to me something that was not well understood in its day but thatnow gets a new positive value , although it is true that it changes the concept that many people may have of a strategy game with more common characteristics.
I personally enjoy skirmish modes against AI or multiplayer more. I’m not going to lie to you either: I’m a bit bad at these games and I usually go quite slow, but if you find people of your level, the games are very enjoyable. As for the battles against the AI, I have to say that I have seen lights and shadows. The difficulty of my battles was at a medium level and I was surprised that on certain occasions the AI stayed stopped when my units were relatively close; but, at other times, I have felt that the machine sped up the game a lot. The first time I played, I hadn’t reached the last era yet, and an opponent had already fallen because they had decided, with a much lower score than mine, that attacking was their best option. I won that game, which was very simple, two for two, but I felt that everything had been too fast (it is true that AoE 3 is not an eternal battle game, but I did have that feeling). By the way, in the occasional game I have suffered a failure, which I hope they will fix: some of my settlers were blocked after the constructions, becoming completely useless, because they could not get out of there. Something strange, but it has been.
In the multiplayer section , I have to say that the ranked games were disabled in the version that I was able to enjoy, but I found a four against four skirmish game quite quickly. My teammates from that game had very high metropolis levels and were much more trained than me, so I was more of a drag than a help, but the game was fluid and the connection was very stable.. I honestly think there is a good job going on here, and hopefully it stays that way when more players hit the servers. In multiplayer we can join public or private games, we can create a fully customizable one, and we even have the ability to create clans, or join an existing one. We also have access to a player ranking.
To finish, on a visual level the game has undergone a fairly deep facelift , ranging from the models themselves to the lighting, through the effects of fire or water. The animations are also improved and I have to say that it is a joy to see clashes of various units and attacks against buildings, which are destroyed in a very credible way. It’s very cool, I can’t comment on anything else, and video game fans are going to appreciate the new style a lot. The game reaches 4K resolution, although I have played at 1080p and 60 fps and I assure you that I have not had any performance problems . At the sound level, it shows that the music and sounds are also updated and accompany very correctlyall the experience, although for example I have not understood why the voice of the “instructor” was not dubbed into Spanish in the manner of The Art of War. It is a detail that does not cloud the experience at all, but I did notice it.
As you can see, this remastering aims to be a very good option for fans of Age of Empires 3 and real-time strategy, and I think it’s a good gateway for new players too, because the additions in the form of tutorials will give you make you understand better how to play well. Of course, the news as such, beyond the technical section, are not too many and I do not know to what extent this can bother those who perhaps expected more. We’ll see, when the game finally comes out, what assessment we can give it, but in general I think we are facing a good job from Tantalus Media and Forgotten Empires. Followers of Age of Empires can be very calm, because in less than a month they will enjoy a good remastering of the third installment of the saga.