Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

Age of Empires 4: Final Preview

The first word that comes to mind when playing the Age of Empires 4 stress test for about 12 hours is “familiar.” In almost every important point, it’s like a remake of the Age of Empires 2 from scratch with the latest graphics and a much better user experience, not necessarily a bad thing. There are some minor tweaks that allow you to hide the unit in the woods. And the designs of the four factions I played reflect more modern sentiment than the 4-year-old August pioneer, at least at the macro level. But, for better or for worse, it’s clear that Relic doesn’t take much opportunity to confuse the basic formula here.

To be fair, the four playable factions in this build were one of the most common in the Age of Empires 4. Specifically, English is designed to be most familiar to legacy players. We have not yet obtained the nomadic Mongolia and the versatile Ruth. It may confuse things a bit more as I wanted.

Same age, different empire

Age of Empires IV Documentary — Xbox Gamescom 2021

Of the factions available, the Chinese were probably the clearest and my overall favorite. Their support unit, Imperial Official, is used to passively increase gold income by collecting taxes that slowly accumulate on all basic structures or by directly supervising specific buildings to increase production. I can do it. You are always limited to 4 people. So it never became a micromanagement nightmare. I really liked the way they could be picked up directly, or just wandering around and doing their own thing. It’s a mechanism that rewards you for investing your attention, but it doesn’t severely punish you for forgetting it exists.

For better or for worse, it’s clear that Relic doesn’t take much opportunity to confuse the basic formula here.


Both Abashid and the Holy Roman Empire encourage the creation of a very dense city center. In the former case, each building, which is seamlessly connected to the main technical center, the House of Wisdom, helps unlock the golden age, which greatly boosts the economy. In the latter case, landmarks can be built to increase the durability of all structures within the radius, and the town center also has an emergency repair function to restore the health of nearby buildings without the use of villagers.

Hard upper lip

In contrast, English seems to be the most suitable for widespread play. Their longbows have a longer range than other archers, the fort acts as a combination of barracks, archery range, and stability, and units close to any of the defensive structures each time an enemy enters a certain radius of the structure. You will receive a temporary attack bonus. They definitely feel like the classic Age of Empires 2 faction and have the powerful ability to project map controls, but nothing is particularly unique in terms of economical gameplay.

How you feel about Age of Empires 4 depends largely on how interested you are in the highly sophisticated and faithful reimagination of the 22-year-old RTS.


The army list for each faction is fairly small and simple, with an assortment of several types of melee infantry, several different ranged units (including gunpowder units from the Age of Empires), cavalry, and a great siege engine. .. Also, each has at least one unique unit. For example, China’s Zhuge Nu trades regular crossbowman armor-piercing shells for higher rates of fire. There are some other minor differences. Britain and the Holy Roman Empire access heavy infantry faster than other factions and model Germanic-style shock warfare. But instead, the Abbasids can study phalanx, making their spearmen more competitive with other types of infantry.

Not a complete war

Once these units met on the battlefield, it was time to have a party, as in 1999. The population is still limited to 200 and can be divided between civilians and soldiers as desired. Units are trained one at a time, but there is one late game building for HRE that allows you to build five. When I was a kid playing with the Pentium, this scale felt spectacular and compelling, but after decades of total war, these battles often feel like skirmishes. I thought they wanted at least the military units at the base to be a squad of several fighters rather than individuals, giving them a more spectacular illusion. The graphics are definitely great, but you won’t drop your chin in this era. This is especially true for unit models that are clearly overwhelming.

From what I’ve seen, how you feel about Age of Empires 4 depends a lot on how interested you are in the highly sophisticated and faithful reimagination of the 22-year-old RTS. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. I definitely smiled as I used the hills to ambush and protected the Great Wall with fire and steel. And the Age of Empires 3 tried to pack so many ideas at once, so don’t miss how it looks bloated in comparison. But few things really feel new here. With a horde of Mongolia, everything may change.