Age of Empires 4: AoE 2's spiritual successor with new twists

During the live broadcast, the developers of “Age of Empires 4” showed longer gameplay clips and revealed key information about their next strategy game. You can see four playable factions: China, Delhi, England and Mughals. A total of eight should be ready to go.

The branch of the popular second series was considered a great model for “Age of Empires 4,” as explained by the development teams from Relic and World’s Edge in a pre-broadcast press event. “We wanted to give people a familiar starting point, but we also surprise them on the other hand,” said game director Quinn Duffy.

So veterans must find touch points like the English faction, which should feel very similar to their “AoE 2” counterpart. However, with the other game elements, the developers want to go beyond the ordinary. The individual factions must differ greatly from each other more than their predecessors: the Mongols, for example, get a game mechanic in which they can fill in buildings and reposition them elsewhere, the Chinese faction can play with gunpowder and missile artillery.

New compared to “Age of Empires 2” is the fourth part, among other things, the possibility to allow units to fight on erected walls. In the future, the soldiers will also be able to hide in the woods – if you spot the hidden units, then their regular sounds will be replaced by whispering.

(Image: Microsoft)

In general, it seems that the developers have invested a lot of time in developing audio elements. Faction units speak of their actual historical language, which must have developed realistically historically over the course of the four ages. The same goes for the musical idea of ​​factions. Narrative designer Philip Ball said this is how you want to better engage players in the story.

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“Age of Empires 4” is set back in the Middle Ages: in Skirmishes and Campaigns, you fight your way through the “Dark Ages”, through Feudal and Persian times to the Imperial era – this is also known from “Age of Empires 2”. Paul explains that the Middle Ages were an obvious choice. “The period is incredibly rich in stories and not everyone sees the links to this day.” In addition to the sounds and the soundtrack, the building’s design also has to be modified as the stairs go up.

The developers want to impart knowledge about the historical period primarily in the campaigns, the tasks of which are conveyed by films in the style of modern documentation. According to their own data, the developers released a total of three hours of material for this. The four campaigns should be divided into several chapters and tell longer stories through the ages.

The English campaign, for example, aims to address the rule of Harald Godwinson, and after the conflict with William the Conqueror, the Battle of Hastings and the invasions of the Vikings, make wars on France playable. Historic central characters must be playable as hero units in campaigns.

Age of Empires 4 is jointly developed by Relic Entertainment and Microsoft World’s Edge studio. The studios receive feedback from a community board made up of fans of past games. The strategy game is scheduled to launch in fall 2021 for PC on Steam and with a Microsoft Game Pass subscription. Microsoft wants to offer a trial version before launch.


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