It has been 16 years since Age of Empires III came out. Now after a long wait Age of Empires IV is live. And it is awesome!
Age of Empires IV is Live
The game itself is in one word awesome. The gamplay combines the best of the first two games with the third. While the large scale battles of Age 1 & 2 are back it is still as user friendly as Age of Empires III. As always it features a campaign mode, Vs AI and Multiplayer. The map editor is absent but wil come at a later time.
The graphics take some getting used to if you played Age of Empires III. The units look more cartoonish while the terrein itself looks more realistic. Microsoft made this choice because it is easier this way to see what units there are on your screen at a glance. This is indeed easier to see than is the previous game.
The gameplay is perfect. Like said above it combines the best of past games. Some nice new features are added like being able to place units on walls and make use of the terrein. Because of this Archers are much more important in the defence of your town. Also new to this game is that if you build something a road automatically is created around it and if possible connect it to a nearby building. This gives you town a more realistic touch.
The campaign is really something else then we saw in previous Age of Empires games and maybe even all RTS games. Unlike the Warcraft III like campaign from the third game this game goes for more of a national geographic like approach. Cutscenes are filmed at the places the current mission takes place is but then in present day. Then some animations are added to see where the armies stood in the battle you are about to play. The narrator voice acting is also very good and it really gives you the feeling you are watching a documentary about the middle ages. You actually learn some history lessons while playing the campaign. It is really cool.
The missions themselves are also very nice. I played trough the English campaign and all missions are interesting and challenging. You jump from one timeframe to another and this way you play the entire 100 years war in France instead of just a small part. The story itself is like the first two game based on facts and the characters have all existed in that time. Unlike Age III’s fictional Black Family.
Like the previous game there is a progression system. The card and home city systems are gone and now a more passive on has taken its place. You still earn XP but it is now account bound. If you do some challenges you can also earn new cosmetics like portraits and banners. Playing the Campaign also unlocks items. You will not be any stronger at a higher level because it is purely cosmetic. This will make the game accessible for new players in the years to come.
This is a great game and it really combines the best of the series. The campaign is awesome and the gameplay itself is fresh and challenging. The graphics might take some getting used to but they seem ok enough. It is only a pity the editor is not ready yet. But there are plenty of thing to do before i need the editor to expand the fun anyway.