We had the chance to preview the content of Age of Empires IV, the Relic Entertainment-developed strategy game from Microsoft that we owe to masterpieces of the genre. The new episode promises to sting. We’ll tell you why.
Microsoft didn’t choose Relic by chance to take care of the line initiated by Ensemble in 1997, a company that disappeared in 2009. The talented studio is behind strategy giants such as the unforgettable Company of Heroes or the Dawn of War series. Age of Empires is almost 25 years old and it was necessary to mark the occasion with this fourth episode that promises to be just gorgeous.
A slap in the face, sir
We saw the game in the company of important personalities like Adam Isgreen (franchise creative director), Michael Mann (senior executive producer) or Quinn Duffy (game director). Dj, let’s talk about the obvious, the undeniable beauty of the game that takes a big turn compared to the other episodes with a standard aesthetic and technical work. Particular attention was paid to natural environments, such as the wind in the treetops or in the weeds, the rays of the sun reflected on the water currents or on the walls of buildings.
Very careful details, a feast for the eyes. But where the technology really bluffs, it is at the level of the unit animations with a very special realism that is brought into the movements and gestures of the fight. For example, we could admire a rider attacking foot units and we can see the man on horseback mowing down his attackers in the blows with great authenticity. We are clearly on a different level of detail compared to the last episode.
The middle ages at the heart of the game
From what we’ve seen, the game is set mainly in the Middle Ages, with all four technological aspects separated from each other:
- Dark Age (before the year 1000)
- Old Fodal (1000-1100)
- Age of Castles (1100-1300)
- Age Imperial (1300-1500)
The dates here are not official, but this is what we assume given the different technologies and architectures we’ve seen for each age. Because yes, as soon as a new age has passed, you have access to new structures and new units. So your cities and castles change, your Romanesque churches turn into Gothic churches and then into cathedrals. Much historical work has been done to make the appearance of each building very realistic.
Different factions to vary the joys
We were able to discover two new factions: Imperial China and the Sultanate of Delhi (India). Of course, a change of faction also requires a radical change in units, mood and atmosphere. So you will have different music, but also cities and units that are radically unique compared to other factions. For example, the Middle Kingdom can build rice fields and earn certain bonuses, while India can use fighting elephants. It’s simple, but it works perfectly and each culture really feels like it’s played differently, which is what the developers want.
In addition to the classic online and single player game modes, the game has a narrative campaign, the first part of which we were able to see. This is the Anglo-Norman campaign, or the conquest of England by William the Conqueror. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the game, but above all to follow a real scenario. It reminds us of our best hours on Empire Earth for the campaign.
War our doors
We can regret that the game does not go on in time and we would have liked to have had squares of English grenadiers in silk stockings and powdered wigs or lots of Prussian skull and crossbones hussars. But we can also say that focusing on the Middle Ages (in the broadest sense from 500 to 1500) makes it possible to eat a huge chunk of history and technology.
Finally, and it was the surprise at the end of the presentation, the game will feature sea battles, even if the Middle Ages are not necessarily the most interesting time for it. Whatever a Byzantine Greek fire fleet is, there is no denying it.
We are waiting for it … with impatience!
Age of Empires IV is clearly one of the most anticipated PC games this year. Publication is planned for autumn 2021. As far as we’ve seen, everything has to be a must. – You need to have a strategy and give the genre a standard slap to reaffirm its roots.