It’s been a long time since we last were excited for a brand new Age of Empires experience, but the good news is Age of Empires 4 is finally here, and it brings what we all were expecting for all these years.
Age of Empires 4 went through a long development process but eventually has been released as a joint effort from Relic Entertainment and World’s Edge studios. However, what matters the most now is how far the game manages to satisfy the old-school players of the series who have been waiting for it since its announcement back in 2017.
To describe the loyalty of Age of Empires 4 to the whole series, I should admit that it feels like a game that should be released a few years after its predecessor, but it’s just waited all these years to become available with better visuals. Now, don’t get me wrong. The game is not outdated at all.
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Without a doubt, the best part of Age of Empires 4 is its campaign mode. Playing the campaign mode feels more like watching a historical documentary movie. The incredibly crafted narrative-driven intros to all missions allow you to experience the ups and downs of four big dynasties in different parts of the world in various eras.
By visiting the real-world locations of the historical incidents, each mission-intro gives you a compelling insight into what you’re going to experience next in your journey and what makes it so special. So, every battle feels epic.
To summarize this, the campaign mode never runs out of surprises and always makes you want more. With every mission finished successfully, you also unlock an optional documentary video that further explains the dynasty’s unique cultural, economical, or military advantages.
Although it’s the fourth installment of the series, Age of Empires 4 is a great entry point for newcomers. The game’s initial tutorials provide you with everything you need to know about expanding your village, and then you can take part in some challenges that not only teach you some key mechanics of the game but allows you to set new records and compete with yourself. Although, I believe that these Art of War challenges should be more than only five.
The overall gameplay mechanics in Age of Empires 4 are very similar to its predecessor. You start building your new home with a bunch of villagers, then you gather resources, build new structures, progress through ages, invest in technology, and finally, you become an economic or military giant of your era.
That being said, the new installment improves some areas and adds a bit more depth to the game. The number of resources now has been increased to four. So, Stone is a new resource that opens a whole new window to reinforcements and fortifications of your city.
While wooden walls can be destroyed easily by infantry, you are going to need siege engines and Rams to destroy a stone wall. When it comes to destruction, the game has made significant improvements compared to its predecessors. The number and varieties of siege engines have been increased. You can even use elephants to destroy stone walls if you play as the Delhi Sultanate.
The combat system sees some significant improvements that could help you out more in attacking or defending scenarios. Not only you can change the order of movement or stance of your army but also you can perform some special tactics with certain units. For example, your archers can dig some obstacles in front of them, which prevents the opposing infantry or cavalry from reaching them quickly, and buys some time for archers to kill more enemy troops.
Similar to the previous titles, each empire has some unique type of warriors, and sometimes you can see this distinguishment in the progression system as well. So, the Abbasid has Camels. Delhi Sultanate has elephants, and the British army has the best knights.
When it comes to naval battles, the game barely shows a sign of progress. It already feels like the previous titles, and maybe a little bit worse, with the variety of ships decreased to only four.
Another fine feature of the Age of Empires 3 that feels missing in the new entry is the helps you could get from Town Center based on your progression in the game, which makes the game more hardcore than before, which could be disappointing for some, and interesting for some other.
When it comes to the visuals, Age of Empires 4 might not be a benchmark after all. Except for a few bugs with placements, the game doesn’t have any big technical issues. However, I feel like I wanted more from this game graphical-wise. The level of details could definitely be better than what it is now. That being said, visuals are never so important in RTS games.
Overall, Age of Empires 4 is a brilliant RTS for the newcomers and a loyal successor to the third installment of the series that will satisfy the old-school fans. The campaign mode in Age of Empires 4 is at its peak in the whole series and could entertain you for up to 60 hours or even more in higher difficulty levels. The game also features a multiplayer mode as well, which I didn’t get the chance to play due to the lower number of players in the review access period.