Age Of Empires 4

Age of Empires IV
Developer(s)
Publisher(s)Xbox Game Studios
Director(s)
  • Age of Empires 4 is a base-building, sword-clashing, village-pillaging RTS of the classic style, inside and out.
  • Jumping into a match as the tenacious English squaring off against the chivalrous French feels like being transported back – not only to its setting of the High and Late Middle Ages, but to a different era of strategy games entirely.
Producer(s)
Designer(s)
  • And there are some things about that which feel really nice, like comfort food for gamers of a certain age.
  • But it's the few spots where Relic has taken risks here and there that this battlefield shows us its best and feels modern.
  • Outside of that, it often just seems too careful and safe in a world where Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition already exists.
Programmer(s)
Artist(s)
  • If you've been sending villagers out to hunt animals, mine gold, and chop wood for decades like I have, you can slide right into the armored boots of most of Age 4's factions with no real fuss at all.
  • Winning pitched battles reliably requires knowing the rock-paper-scissors relationship between spears, horses, and bows.
  • A quick raid to murder some of your opponent's villagers and shut down their economy can be more strategically valuable than victory in any head-to-head engagement.
  • Building walls and other defensive structures turns the late game into a tense chess match where map control is key, though eventually high-tech artillery like cannons will break the stalemate and lead to a decisive sweep for whoever fields them most effectively.
Writer(s)
Composer(s)
  • The pacing is right where it needs to be when you're against an evenly skilled opponent.
  • I was also impressed with the semi-randomized skirmish maps, which let you choose a biome – defining the colors, tree types, and overall vibes, from European Temperate to Asian Steppe to Taiga – in addition to a layout.
  • They each present different tactical challenges, from two opposing ridges overlooking a valley that feels very much like a StarCraft 2 tournament map, to very open layouts with lots of unit-concealing forest in the middle that encourages a cheeky guerilla war and lots of misdirection.
  • Some of them can feel a bit unbalanced, though; mountain passes will always favor castle-building civs over nomads like the Mongols, for instance.
  • But overall, it's a great variety of well-designed battlefields.
SeriesAge of Empires
EngineEssence Engine 5.0
Platform(s)
ReleaseOctober 28, 2021
Genre(s)Real-time strategy
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

And while I was worried naval combat would feel like an afterthought with how little Relic talked about it leading up to launch, it's fairly well fleshed-out, making island maps a thrilling proposition of their own.

Age IV Campaigns

Naval combat is fairly well fleshed-out, making island maps a thrilling proposition.

Age IV System Requirements

But for six out of the eight playable factions, I just didn't feel like there was enough new going on here.

  • I mean, they each do play a bit differently; unique techs, units, and landmarks are great at establishing an identity evoking their historical inspiration and varying up how you maximize your economy.
  • The Chinese gain much of their gold income from Imperial Officials who walk around collecting taxes from all of your buildings.
  • The Abbasids get the Baghdad House of Wisdom which positions them to be a leader in tech and – hilariously if you know its real-world fate – grants fire resistance to nearby structures.
  • But these modest touch-ups didn't do much to change the fact that there's almost nothing in Age 4 that couldn't have existed 10 years ago.

Trailers

That includes the graphics: even on max settings they don't look that impressive, especially when I could go play any Total War released since 2010 and see an order of magnitude more units with much more detailed models and far higher-fidelity environments.

The Mongol Empire

And with Microsoft signing the checks, it's not like Relic made this on a shoestring budget.

At the same time, new mechanical ideas like being able to hide units in forests to set up ambushes are a nice twist, but other than that I'm not really doing anything that I couldn't in the Definitive Editions of Age of Empires 2 and 3 that have been released recently. UNLESS… WAIT FOR IT… YOU ARE THE MONGOLS. With fully mobile bases, no population buildings, and an economy heavily focused on burning down other people's stuff to get money, the Mongol faction breaks with tradition and convention and shows what Relic can do when it’s really trying to bring something new to the table.

Description

The Mongols took me from feeling kind of lukewarm about Age 4 to excited to explore new tactics almost immediately, and I've spent the majority of my multiplayer time since then throat singing and microing horse archers. The Rus are a nice breath of fresh air as well, though they’re not nearly as unconventional; they focus on dominating the wilds with smaller outposts rather than having a dense, heavily defended urban core. The Mongols took me from feeling kind of lukewarm about Age 4 to excited to explore new tactics. Unfortunately, not even Genghis Khan could save me from the generally terrible unit pathfinding and targeting. It's not StarCraft: Brood War bad, but it's pretty bad, with cavalry commonly getting stuck on rubble and dancing back and forth nonsensically, scouts trying to ride through a forest instead of around it, knights trying to surround and gang up on one spearman instead of breaking off to hit the siege weapons behind him, and archers stopping to plink away ineffectually at a tower when there's a pivotal battle going on just a short jog up the road.

Age IV Gameplay

Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic81/100[14]
Review scores
PublicationScore
CGM10/10[15]
Game Informer8.25/10[16]
GameRevolution[17]
GamesRadar+[18]
Hardcore Gamer4/5[19]
IGN8/10[20]
PC Gamer (US)77/100[21]
PCGamesN8/10[22]

You are going to need to babysit your armies constantly, on a very fine, tactical level, to get the best out of them.

And that’s true even when you're not playing a super micro-heavy faction like the Mongols. But there's one area where Age 4's old-school sensibilities brought me nothing but delight: It features a full 40 missions of single-player campaign goodness. The first two campaigns, featuring the English vs the French in the Norman Invasions, and then the French vs the English in the Hundred Years War, are a bit slow due to the fact that they focus on the two most boring factions – they could almost be mistaken at times for mirrors of each other. But the Mongol Empire and Rise of Moscow campaigns feature tons of interesting objectives that put you in the middle of thrilling flashpoints from history. You'll unlock live-action mini documentaries for each scenario on things like how to build a composite bow or traditional Mongol folk music, which are pretty neat – though I would have killed for basic pause and rewind buttons as they played.

It’s worth highlighting that the music and sound design are great across the board. Traditional instruments and melodies evoking the spirit of each faction start out simple and build to something more epic as you advance through the ages. Voice lines for each unit were recorded in the native languages of their historical cultures, including some that are no longer natively spoken. The English units, for example, speak mostly incomprehensible Old English in the first age, which gradually evolves through Middle English and eventually arrives at the Early Modern English of Shakespeare's time.

This was a really nice touch, and none of it sounds overly stereotypical or cartoonish. On the other hand, maybe my biggest disappointment so far is the lack of a map editor. One of my favorite activities in older Age of Empires games has always been designing my own scenarios and sharing them with my friends, and right now you can’t do it here. Fortunately, Relic says mod tools are on the way – I just hope they don't take too long to get here. Age of Empires IV takes players on a journey through the ages as they command influential leaders, build expansive kingdoms, and fight some of the most critical battles of the Middle Ages.

Hundred Years War

At the start of the Norman Campaign — just one of four campaigns available in Age of Empires IV — William of Normandy sets forth on the hard-fought road to conquer England and become its new king.

Norman Campaign

  1. What follows is an epic story of succession, family conflict, anarchy, and rebellion — all with the players in the front seat.
  2. Ravaged by years of English raiding, France must gather its might to resist the onslaught. Over the course of a century, this fragile country evolves by virtue of chivalric knighthood, the fierce determination of a peasant girl named Jeanne d’Arc, and the explosive force of cannon fire.
  3. During the 100 Years War campaign, players will defend France, turn the tide of war, and forge the foundations of the French nation.
  4. The story of Moscow’s rise begins at a humble outpost on the Moskva River and ends with the emergence of a new superpower.
  5. Playing as the Rus and their iconic leaders, players will battle the relentless brutality of the Mongol invasion, unite allies and foes, and force a change of fortune – from subjugation to independence.
  6. Under the unifying rule of Genghis Khan, warring Mongolian tribes came together and forged the largest contiguous land empire the world has ever known.
  7. What the Mongols lacked in resources, they made up for with tactics, martial skills, and adaptation.
  8. The Mongol campaign takes players through the thunderous rise of this awe-inspiring empire. To start their empires, players will need to explore the world around them to locate essential resources.
  9. Using these resources, they’ll construct buildings, produce units, and build their economies — all the while fighting off a barrage of enemy raids and attacks. Guide your empire through the ages, and when the time is right, strike your enemies with the full force of your empire, claiming victory!
  10. Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system. OS: Windows 10 – 64 bit, or Windows 11. Processor: Intel Core i5-6300U, or AMD Ryzen 5 2400G. Graphics: Intel HD 520, or AMD Radeon RX Vega 11.
  11. DirectX: Version 12. Additional Notes: CPU with AVX support required. OS: Windows 10 – 64 bit, or Windows 11. CPU: 3.6 GHz 6-core (Intel i5), or AMD Ryzen 5 1600.
  12. GPU: Nvidia Geforce 970 GPU, or AMD Radeon RX 570 GPU with 4GB of VRAM. DirectX: Version 12. Additional Notes: CPU with AVX support required. One of the most beloved real-time strategy games returns to glory with Age of Empires IV, putting you at the center of epic historical battles that shaped the world.
  13. Featuring both familiar and innovative new ways to expand your empire in vast landscapes with stunning 4K visual fidelity, Age of Empires IV brings an evolved real-time strategy game to a new generation.
  14. Return to History The past is prologue as you are immersed in a rich historical setting of 8 diverse civilizations across the world from the English to the Chinese to the Delhi Sultanate in your quest for victory.
  15. Build cities, manage resources, and lead your troops to battle on land and at sea in 4 distinct campaigns with 35 missions that span across 500 years of history from the Dark Ages up to the Renaissance.
  16. Choose Your Path to Greatness with Historical Figures Live the adventures of Joan of Arc in her quest to defeat the English, or command mighty Mongol troops as Genghis Khan in his conquest across Asia.
  17. The choice is yours – and every decision you make will determine the outcome of history. Customize Your Game with Mods (Beta) Chart your own course with powerful creator tools in the latest beta release of Mod Editor.
  18. Sculpt your own skirmish and multiplayer maps, craft unique mission scenarios, forge data driven tuning packs and envision new modes of play for Age of Empires IV.
  19. Challenge the World Jump online to compete, cooperate or spectate with up to 7 of your friends in PVP and PVE multiplayer modes.
  20. An Age for All Players Age of Empires IV is an inviting experience for new players with a tutorial system that teaches the essence of real-time strategy and a Campaign Story Mode designed for first time players to help achieve easy setup and success, yet is challenging enough for veteran players with new game mechanics, evolved strategies, and combat techniques.
  21. ^Zak, Robert (October 24, 2021). "Age of Empires 4 review". PC Gamer. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  22. ^Boudreau, Ian (October 25, 2021). "Age of Empires 4 review – return of the king". PCGamesN. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  23. ^"Age of Empires IV feels familiar, but that's okay". MobileSyrup. October 25, 2021. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  24. ^am, Leana HaferUpdated: 29 Oct 2021 7:50 pmPosted: 25 Oct 2021 7:01, Age of Empires 4 Review - IGN, retrieved November 2, 2021
  25. ^Weber, Rachel (October 25, 2021). "Age of Empires 4 review: "History, carnage, and teeny weeny elephants - it has it all"". gamesradar. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  26. ^Tack, Daniel. "Age of Empires IV Review - The Once And Possibly Future King". Game Informer. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  27. ^"Age of Empires IV (PC) Review - CGMagazine". Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  28. ^"Review | 'Age of Empires IV' is the History Channel in game form. Just don't take it literally". Washington Post. ISSN0190-8286. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  29. ^"Age of Empires 4 review — A learning experience". VG247. October 25, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  30. ^"Age of Empires 4 review – return of the king". PCGamesN. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  31. ^Zak, Robert (October 25, 2021). "Age of Empires 4 review". pcgamer. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  32. ^Goslin, Austen (October 25, 2021). "Age of Empires 4 revives the series' brilliance". Polygon. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  33. ^Bankhurst, Adam (December 10, 2021). "The Game Awards 2021 Winners: The Full List". IGN. Retrieved December 13, 2021.

The Rise of Moscow

  • Official website
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