There is a unique sense of satisfaction that Age of Empires games have excelled in providing over the years. This wonderfully rewarding moment of seeing your strategy succeed in littering the battlefield with a whole army of fallen knights and peasants, all your hard work, micro-management and intrigue bearing fruit as your forces set out to burn down the center. – nearest town. Age of Empires II has mastered this triumphant moment of careful planning and unleashing a well-balanced army on your opponent, and it is this timeless feeling that Age of Empires IV seeks to capture while paying homage to its past.
While it does manage to conjure up nostalgic memories of unloading a heavily armored Persian pachyderm war machine deep into enemy territory, Age of Empires IV also doesn’t put much effort into venturing out of its zone of defense. comfort. It’s confident but familiar, building on what works without opening up a new avenue in the strategy genre.
Relic Entertainment and World’s Edge’s sequel to the long streak of real-time strategy luckily ignores some of the unnecessary complexity of Age of Empires III. Instead, they reduce the game to a proven formula of successfully managing limited resources, tactical scouting, and slowly transforming your rambling hamlet into a feudal superpower that conquers multiple ages.
This core loop of producing dozens of villagers, researching new technology, and building a formidable army is a reminder of how timeless a well-executed game system can be and will be instantly recognizable to any Age of Empires veteran.
The campaigns take place through four remarkable eras of human development, highlighting the English, French, Mongolian and Russian civilizations. On top of that, there is also the standard Skirmish mode and Art of War tutorials that teach you the finer details of the game, although at the time of writing there is a dedicated scenario and map editor n has not yet been added to the package.
Each of the four campaigns is a decent number of hours long, with cutting-edge documentary-like videos filling in the gaps between each mission. These are beautifully produced tidbits of history, detailing the path to war that notable figures such as Genghis Khan, William the Conqueror, and Ivan the Terrible took to protect the legacy of their nations. Better yet, completing a mission unlocks more short videos that further detail aspects of these cultures and their approach to warfare, such as the tedious creation of chain mail, the thoroughbred beauty of Mongolian horses, and the revolutionary impact of the trebuchet in siege warfare.
This alien approach to the Age of Empires IV storytelling sometimes feels like a missed opportunity given that Relic Entertainment is the helm of this game. Relic’s Dawn of War games had fantastic storytelling, but Age of Empires IV leans heavily. on its documentary influences, conveniently ignoring the horrific acts these nations committed to emerge triumphant from the centuries of conflict, terror and genocide that defined these nations during the Dark Times.
While the story of each campaign is given a makeover before the start of each round, it’s the actual re-enactment of these major battles that offers a series of fun challenges and great variety. Whether it’s taking control of French forces during the Siege of Paris or drawing a line in the sand against Mongol invaders on the way to war towards Moscow, Age of Empires IV offers a campaign that constantly throws you at you. a variety of challenges.
Where Age of Empires IV really shines is with its selection of civilizations that you can experience in its Campaign and Skirmish modes. While just eight options for a Feudal Battle Club might make veterans laugh when they compare it to the dozens of civilizations that can be chosen in the Age of Empires II Definitive Edition, Relic’s approach makes every nation a pleasure to play. The bones of base building and resource gathering create a viable base, and each culture feels unique in other meaningful ways.
Where Age of Empires IV really shines is with its selection of civilizations that you can experience in its Campaign and Skirmish modes.
Take the Mongols, for example, because a well-timed ambush using hit-and-run tactics transfers more resources to your base with each building you burn to the ground. Prefer the security of long-range siege warfare? The French are good at leveling walls with their gunpowder units, the Rus take to the battlefield with self-healing sacred warriors, and the Abbasids turn a single landmark into a marvel of the ancient age. with each new branch they build on it. .
Each civilization has its own pros and cons, as well as some savage imbalances that the Age of Empires IV community has discovered. I have dreaded go into battle against the Delhi Sultanate, as their almighty war elephants regularly bulldozed through all of my defensive tactics. The English can also be an absolute nightmare to deal with, as this civilization has several unique technologies that make them experts at linking their defenses, withstanding any siege with their strong agriculture, and unleashing long-range death from their infamous longbows.
All of this makes it a game that is both comfortably familiar and surprising as you explore the tactical options available to you. Even advancing into a new era of development presents an extra layer of flexibility, as you’ll have the choice of building one of two landmarks that will have a major impact on the direction your city takes. The Rus can rely more on their hunter-gatherer lifestyle by earning greater rewards when slaughtering wild game, while the Holy Roman Empire benefits from clever architecture that adds more benefits to a city based on the proximity of buildings near a central landmark.
Outside of the main campaign, Age of Empires IV’s skirmish mode now features new victory conditions that make conquest and domination games faster. The default configuration gives you three options for victory; Demolish an opponent’s landmark, build a wonder and achieve a holy victory by taking control of several strategic locations on the map. While you would need to find and keep Relics in Age of Empires II, the Conquest of Holy Sites tasks you with locating the sites, sending a monk to convert them, and then holding all those locations for 10 minutes.
These sacred sites also tend to be located in the middle of a map, forcing players to build armies that allow for more open warfare compared to tactics of the past. Holding victory in a war of attrition also has a lot of charm, as Age of Empires IV makes being part of a siege much more fascinating. The absolute thrill of throwing up walls and populating them with rows of archers is now met with an adrenaline rush of watching your infantry build rams and siege towers and then throw them into the chaotic melee of battle while let the trebuchets hurl devastating boulders at your units’ heads.
While it’s a joy to see how far your strategy can go during skirmishes and campaign missions, Age of Empires IV isn’t without a few annoying quirks you’ll have to deal with. Unit AI can be frustrating, as the age-old tactic of crafting a heavily armed meat shield while your archers and crossbowmen turn the opposition into a huge pincushion requires more micro-management than ever before. While your infantry and cavalry are absorbing the damage, you will need to do a lot more micromanagement than ever before to set up vital units, as they simply cannot be relied on to take advantage of the opportunity you have created. on the battlefield.
Age of Empires IV also looks incredibly dated, as its washed-out visuals and bland color scheme are pale compared to other modern RTS games. While it does have a certain charm – like seeing multiple illustrative units quickly build a building or its selection of handcrafted menus in which you can count every thread of tapestry – Age of Empires IV lacks that visual flair that made previous games shine. . It’s a simpler layout that’s also hampered by a locked camera angle and a population limit of 200 players that rarely allows large-scale battles to really take place.
On a more positive note, the soundtrack is an audio history lesson that mixes delicate lute solos with Mongolian throat singing and Germanic choirs.
Age of Empires IV is a satisfying game, but its more innovative ideas are overshadowed by a gameplay formula that rarely departs from the revered legacy of Age of Empires II. Dated graphics, boring AI, and a slim selection of content prevent Age of Empires IV from establishing an RTS kingdom that can stand the test of time, but thrilling campaigns, a passion for history, and factions that grow strong. really distinct feel from each other make to satisfy the RTS comfort quarrel.