15 years have passed since the release of the last ‘Age of Empires’ (if we remove the “Definitive Edition” and remasterings, of course). Age of Empires III’ was launched in October 2005 and, to date, the franchise has not yet met a successor, or at least not completely. We have been waiting since 2017 for the arrival of ‘Age of Empires IV’, a new edition that still has no official launch date. This is all we know about the game so far.
What we know about ‘Age of Empires IV’ today
First of all: it is in development. In fact, we’ve known about it since August 21, 2017. Microsoft announced at the time that the title was in the oven and that the studio in charge of its development was none other than Relic Entertainment, which we know from games such as ‘Homeworld’, ‘Company of Heroes’ and ‘Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War’. Nothing else was said, only that the project was underway.
After two years of silence, some Inside Xbox in which the game did not make an appearance and some E3 2018/9 without a trace of ‘Age of Empires’, Microsoft promised that the new RTS would be one of the great protagonists of the X019, and it was. The company finally showed the first video of ‘Age of Empires IV’, which is the one we have just below this line.
What can we see in the video? For now, images of the pre-alpha, that is, a very distant version of the final. That means that everything we see is susceptible to both improvement and downgrade, although we will know that when the game is released. That said, the graphics shown in the video are much better than those of the past editions, with a much more exquisite level of detail in the buildings and troops, as well as more moving elements.
About factions, what we see in the video does not give us many clues. We know that they are English and Mongolian and that they will have different ways of fighting, but little else. It is difficult to discern from the video if the game will take us to a specific time, but sticking to what we know about the saga and its trajectory the most normal thing would be that there would be a wide range of factions. According to Adam Isgreen, the creative director of the game, the game will be “a little earlier than we might think” and “the beginning of the Renaissance”.
Be that as it may, the images of the pre-alpha let us see a much more exquisite graphic section, although it remains to be seen what the HUD looks like. And speaking of seeing, we also have to talk about listening, because Mikolai Stroinski will be in charge of creating the soundtrack of the game. For those who don’t know who Stroinski is, he was the composer of the soundtrack for ‘The Witcher 3’.
In an interview with Games Radar, Isgreen dropped that the studio was not going to complicate too much the life with the game, in the sense of making it as complex as some current RTS are. In his own words, “with ‘Age of Empires 4’, it was important for us to be like, ‘okay, how do we get away from that’ We don’t want to take on all the complexity that we see in RTS games today”.
However, Isgreen recognized in that same interview that ‘AoE IV’ is a “new beginning” and that they want to “modernize the series” by doing “things differently”. What things? He didn’t go on much longer, but said there would be new things in the campaign: “I can say that we will bring the story in a fun and exciting way to people. The way we’re coining it for Age of Empires 4 is ‘humanized stories. It’s funny how Isgreen’s speech mixes the idea of doing new things with staying true to the essence of ‘Age of Empires’.
As for the monetization of the game, Isgreen himself explained to PCGamesN that there will be no micro transactions, a system that has become very popular in recent years. Instead, the study is exploring DLCs and expansions, something similar to what we found in ‘Civilization VI’, for example. It is worth mentioning that, according to the mentioned media, ‘AoE IV’ can be bought separately or played for free if we are subscribed to Game Pass.
From this we can conclude that the game will arrive, at least, to PC. The PC is the preferred platform for strategy games due to the default presence of the mouse and keyboard. Shannon Loftis and Adam Isgreen confirmed to Stevivor that their main goal is to make the game work on PC and, already then, investigate other ways. In short, the game will arrive safely to PC and other platforms will be seen.
That said, the latest information shows that the game is now fully playable. Shannon Loftis, one of the main responsibles of Xbox Games Studios, says that currently the team is “testing, balancing and polishing” the game experience and that “I don’t want to make you jealous, but we are literally playing this game every day, both in Washington and Vancouver”.
This is all that is known to date. At the moment we have neither release dates, nor indicative prices, nor information on whether there will be several editions. We will have to wait until the game is officially launched.