We have finally seen Age of Empires IV in action and we are already counting the days we have left to enjoy the return of this legendary series of real-time strategy. The authors of Company of Heroes tell us all the details of this highly anticipated RTS set in the Middle Ages. Graphics, armies, news, launch and more in this first contact.
The Age of Empires saga has been so important to the video game industry, to millions of gamers and creatives around the world, that for years the real-time strategy genre was practically dominated by games that tried to replicate the success of the classic. from Ensemble Studios. However, others sought a way to break that hegemony by creating new ways of understanding RTS, and the Relic Entertainment team was one of the great supporters of this new generation of strategy games with its great Company of Heroes saga as a great reference.
So when I finally got to see the long-awaited Age of Empires IV in action, it was impossible not to ask about how they felt creating a game that broke with their own philosophy like Age of Empires IV. I say this because if you were afraid that this new AoE would be very different from what you knew, you can breathe easy: it is faithful to the classics, but also innovative in many aspects. “From the beginning we experimented to see how far we could take Age of Empires IV before it stopped looking like Age of Empires,” says Creative Director Quinn Duffy. “We knew we wanted to make a modern version of Age of Empires, but we also knew we wanted to make a game that felt like Age of Empires.”
Their great reference has been, of course, the revered Age of Empires 2, to the point that they themselves define their work as a kind of spiritual successor to this classic among classics. But almost ten years after the premiere of Age of Empires Online, the main person in charge of the brand remembers that “the strategy has evolved, so we wanted to make sure that we could create a game that not only had the roots of AoE, but also try to modernize them and bring new ideas. ” There are, and it’s hard not to get excited about them. Because finally we will enjoy great sieges with all the spectacular and epic that you expect from this kind of pitched battles; in addition to fighting in urban settingsand the possibility of ambushing rival armies hiding in the woods.
But if I have to stay with a novelty, without a doubt this is the asymmetry of the civilization that you will be able to lead. It’s a big change from previous Age of Empires that goes beyond just offering exclusive troops for each army. “What we really wanted to push is the diversity of civilization, ” says Adam Isgreen. “We wanted each faction to have unique things that really force you to think with a different mindset. Sometimes,” Isgreen continues, “I would switch from one army to another and feel completely confused.”
It is not a total asymmetry in the style of the Starcraft series, there are units shared between all the armies, which is why in the Blizzard game there are only three factions and in Age of Empires IV we will find 8 civilization in its premiere. But it promises! And if you are as excited as I am to finally enjoy this long-awaited strategy game, know that there is still much to discover.
Age of Empires 4’s bet on the Middle Ages
For a long time there was speculation about the possibility that Age of Empires 4 would take us to the wars of the 20th century, more being a game from the authors of Company of Heroes, but the first trailer of this long-awaited RTS ended the debate: the Middle Ages. Why repeat? “From a historical perspective, the Middle Ages is an incredibly rich time to dig into. And it’s far enough away that I think a lot of people today don’t really understand the connections, how much of our current life is based on what happened in those periods, not only in Europe, but all over the world, “explains Narrative Chief Philippe Boulle. Relic Entertainment also highlights “that there are so many stories to tell that have not been told”, which has been an opportunity for them.
A more humane approach to the story has been sought, which in its respective campaigns will not focus on a single historical character as in the past, but will cover longer periods of time. “The story of the campaign now is very, very different from what any RTS has done,” explained Adam Isgreen. “I’ve worked on a lot of RTS and I’ve never been able to do what we’ve done with Age 4 in terms of being able to tell the stories.” They used the Norman campaign as an examplewhich starts with the story of William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings, but then the story gives way to his sons, Henry I and Robert Curtshose, and then his sons. So we will relive the origin of England as we know it today with all the civil wars, power struggles and bloody battles that took place throughout the centuries.
“I have learned things about my country that I did not know thanks to Age of Empires,” said the head of the community, Emma Bridle. And that’s normal, considering that Relic has worked with historians and documentary makers to be as faithful as possible to reality in the four available campaigns.
In Age of Empires IV all the details have been taken care of to the maximum, which includes the typography, the scenes of history and its own artistic design, or something as incredible as the language of each civilization. “We have done something never before seen in other strategy games, and that is that throughout the four eras that you go through with each civilization, the way soldiers and citizens speak changes,” Relic Entertainment highlights. So the English you will hear at the beginning of the game will be different from what you will hear once you reach the last historical period of this civilization.
What civilization are there in Age of Empires IV?
We wanted each faction to have unique things in Age of Empires IVAdam isgreen
As AoE 4 told you, it will be released with 8 great civilization of the Middle Ages. For now, four of them have been announced: English, Chinese, Mongolians and the Sultanate of Delhi, without clues about what other empires we will have within our reach beyond clarifying that “they will not only be from Europe and Asia. There are others,” they say, playing mystery. The important thing is that asymmetry that I was talking about before. “The detail that we are putting in each civilization and that idea of making them more unique is, you know, the reason why Starcraft had only three armies, all his life, because reaching the balance between all of them is a huge challenge,” he explains Relic.
“So for us to start with eight civilization is already a pretty big effort, but from there, we will continue to expand the armies”, which obviously makes clear the intention to work on content expansions, as has been done. done in other episodes of Age of Empires.
To better understand these differences, Relic Entertainment told us about the Mongolian people, who as they were nomads, in Age of Empire 4 they will have the possibility of moving their entire village from one place to another on the map. But also the management of resources or the way of defending against enemy attacks varies from one civilization to another. There are shared units, that is why they speak of a “semi asymmetry”, but they make it clear that the differences will be notable to force us to think differently depending on which army we lead.
In these we will also find the figure of the heroes, but without going into details, it does not seem that they will be units with such power capable of annihilating dozens of enemies without many problems. And since we are talking about war… How many soldiers will gather on the same battlefield?
If we talk about multiplayer, Relic was clear: 4 vs 4 games with 200 troops for each army have been sought, which leaves us with battles of up to 1,600 soldiers. And in the campaign? Here the authors of Company of Heroes did not give an exact figure but they did tell us that since there is only one player, the number of troops is managed differently [it is understood that they can add many more], “so that will give you an idea of the scale we are looking for”. As I say, I do not know the exact number, but the videos they showed us make it clear that they are going to be mass battles with sieges that promise to make us vibrate with pure emotion.
Look at the walls; finally we can place troops on them to defend the position. There are also palisades and other defensive measures to slow down cavalry charges, or obliterate unsavoury enemies. And I love it. As I am also excited about the possibility of enjoying combat between hundreds of soldiers in a medieval city, using the environment to my advantage.
There are other strategic details that I really like, some taken directly from Age of Empires 3, like making the transition from one era to another more than just pressing a button. As in the last numbered chapter of the series, in AoE 4 you will have to choose between several options with their own unique bonuses and characteristics. Relic Entertainment promises that the differences will be notable, to the point that “sometimes it will be difficult for you to decide on one or the other.”
The graphics of Age of Empires 4
The first trailer for the Age of Empires IV left us all speechless by the magnitude of its battlefields and how good the troops and scenarios looked. I confess that my first impression at this last event was not so positive. It doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t look that spectacular either. The scenarios are realistic in appearance with incredible details, but the troops are not particularly outstanding or surprising when compared to other more current games of the style.
Relic points out that to avoid what is known as cognitive overload, that is, overwhelming the player with visual details, it has opted for a simpler modeling for the troops, closer to that seen in Age of Empires 2, thus seeking “make it a game easier to see and understand.”
“The soldiers are a bit cartoonish, but since they are so small, we didn’t need them to be extremely detailed” in order to avoid saturating the player with too much flashy stuff on screen. The scenarios, on the other hand, look fantastic, with a spectacular physics engine that will leave us with the most powerful scenes as we see buildings and walls fall. Lighting and environmental effects such as fog also seek to give realism to a game that as we progress through the ages will become more and more colorful, as an allegory of discovery in the face of the mystery of the unknown.
Not another thing but Relic and Microsoft are taking care of all the details so that lovers of strategy, but also fans of history, enjoy a memorable experience. To give you an idea of the obsession with details, there is about three hours of content filmed as a documentary, and although they still do not want to talk in depth about it, it says a lot about the conscientious study that has been carried out to bring life to this long awaited Age of Empires 4.
Age of Empire IV release date?
Age of Empire IV release date is around Autumn 2021 and fixed date is yet to be unknown. For all these things I am dying to play Age of Empires IV. It still has a lot to prove, I think that visually it could be more powerful, but after listening to those responsible for it, it is difficult not to get excited about the return of this yearned for real-time strategy saga. Its launch? It will take place in autumn 2021, but we will still have to wait a little longer for a specific date.
From that moment, as they have already dropped, we will have AoE for a while, since Relic and Xbox propose its launch as the first of many steps forward for what is one of the most emblematic sagas in the video game industry.