Age of Empires 4 is a classic style RTS that builds a base, hits a sword, and plunders a village. The tenacious English fighting the French of chivalry jumps into the game, feeling completely back to another era of strategy games, not just the late medieval setting. And there are some things that really feel good, like comfort food for gamers of a certain age. But where Relic is taking risks here and there, it’s one of the few places where this battlefield shows us the best and feels modern. Other than that, in a world where the Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition already exists, it often seems too careful and too safe.
If you’ve been sending villagers for decades like me to hunt animals, mine gold, and chop wood, you can slip into the armored boots of most 4-year-old factions. To win the battle, you need to make sure you know the rock-paper-scissors relationship between the spear, the horse, and the bow. A swift assault to kill some of the enemy villagers and shut down their economy is strategically more valuable than a direct engagement victory. Building walls and other defensive structures turns the second half of the game into a tense chess game where map control is important, but eventually high-tech cannons like cannons break the stalemate and fight most effectively. It leads to a decisive sweep for the person. The pace is where you need it when you play against evenly skilled opponents.
In addition to the layout, I was also impressed with the semi-randomized skirmish map, which allows you to choose the biome that defines the color, type of wood, and overall mood. From the temperate zones of Europe to the grasslands of Asia and the taiga. From two facing ridges overlooking a valley that feels like a StarCraft 2 tournament map, to a very open layout with lots of forests hiding units in the center that encourages cheeky guerrilla warfare and many misdirections. Presents different tactical challenges. However, some of them can feel a bit imbalanced. For example, the pass always favors the citizens who build the castle rather than the nomads like Mongolia. But overall, it’s a very diverse and well-designed battlefield. I was worried that the naval battle might feel like a retrofit because there wasn’t much talk about Relic’s launch, but it’s pretty fleshed out and makes the island map its own thrilling proposal.
But for six of the eight playable factions, I didn’t feel that something new enough was happening here. In other words, each playback method is slightly different. Unique technologies, units and landmarks excel at establishing historic inspirational identities and changing the way we maximize the economy. The Chinese earn much of their gold income from imperial officials roaming to collect taxes from all your buildings. The Abbasid Caliphate gains the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, establishes itself as a leader in technology, and, knowing its real-world fate, makes nearby structures fireproof.
But these modest modifications didn’t change much in the fact that few at the age of four couldn’t exist ten years ago. This includes graphics. Even at maximum settings, it’s not very impressive, especially if you can play Total War released after 2010 and see an order of magnitude more units in a much more detailed model and a much more loyal environment. .. And since Microsoft signed the check, it’s not like Relic made it on a small budget. At the same time, new mechanical ideas such as hiding units in the woods and setting up ambush are a great twist, but other than that, they don’t really do what the Age of Empires definitive edition couldn’t do. Hmm. And recently released 3.
Otherwise … wait for it … you are Mongolic
With a fully mobile base, no population buildings, and an economy focused on burning others’ stuff to make money, Mongolian factions break traditions and customs, and Relic is really something new. Shows what you can do when trying to bring things to the table. The Mongolians were excited to quickly explore new tactics from the slightly slimy feel of me when I was four years old. Since then, I’ve spent most of my multiplayer time singing throats and micronizing the archery. The Rus’ people are not so unconventional, but they are also a wonderful breath of fresh air. They focus on dominating the wilderness with smaller outposts, rather than having a dense, tightly protected city center.
Unfortunately, even Genghis Khan couldn’t save me from pathfinding and targeting of generally terrible units. StarCraft: Blood War isn’t bad, but it’s pretty bad. The cavalry gets caught in the rubble and dances back and forth meaninglessly, the scout tries to run through the forest instead of around the forest, and the knight tries to form a gang surrounded by a spear soldier. He left to attack the siege engine behind him, and just a little jogging on the road stopped the archers from effectively scattering in the tower when a crucial battle was taking place. You will need to constantly babysitter your army at a very fine, tactical level to get the most out of them. And that’s true even when you’re not playing a super-micro-heavy faction like Mongolia.
Age of Empires 4 Screenshots
But there is one area where the old-fashioned sensibilities of four have brought me joy. It features all 40 missions of goodness in single player campaigns. The first two campaigns featuring English vs France in the Norman invasion and France vs English in the Hundred Years War are a bit slower as they focus on the two most boring factions. Sometimes mistaken for each other’s mirrors. But the rise campaign of the Mongol Empire and Moscow features tons of interesting purposes that put you in the midst of a thrilling flash point from history. Unlock live-action mini-documentaries for each scenario, including how to make composite bows and traditional Mongolian folk music. These are pretty pretty, but they kill when you play the basic pause and rewind buttons.
It’s worth emphasizing that the music and sound design are good overall. Traditional instruments and melodies that evoke the spirit of each faction begin with simple ones and evolve over time into more magnificent ones. The audio lines of each unit were recorded in the native language of historical culture, including those that are no longer spoken natively. For example, the British unit speaks Old English, which is barely understandable in the first era, but gradually evolves through Middle English, eventually reaching Early Modern English in Shakespeare’s era. This was a really nice touch, and none of it sounds overly stereotypical or cartoonish.
On the other hand, my biggest disappointment so far is the lack of a map editor. One of my favorite activities in the old Age of Empires game was always designing my own scenarios and sharing them with my friends, but now I can’t do that here. Fortunately, Relic says mod tools are approaching. I hope it won’t take long to get here.