Ever since Age of Empires IV was announced all the way back in 2017 – what a different world we all lived in then – fans of this series have been champing at the bit to get their hands on it. When it comes to Real-Time-Strategy (RTS) games, this is a series boasting a reputation few can match.
1. When was Age of Empires IV released?
Age of Empires IV was released on 28 October 2021. It is developed by Relic Entertainment, the studio behind the fantastic strategy games Homeworld, Company of Heroes and the Warhammer: Dawn of War series.
2. The game has eight civilizations that play differently
Age of Empires IV has eight playable civilizations. These are the confirmed civilizations in Age of Empires IV: the English, Chinese, Delhi Sultanate, Mongols, Abbasid Dynasty, French, Holy Roman Empire and Rus. Each plays differently, as one would expect from an asymmetrical RTS.
The Delhi Sultanate for example, have elephant units while the Chinese use crossbows and fire lances. There are buildings and units which are shared more generally between civilizations, but each civilizations has unique mechanics that will give a distinctive twist on the experience.
One of the most interesting factions is the Mongols. This is an entirely nomadic faction that can pack up their buildings and city centres and move to a different location. This means if they’re on a wide-open map, Mongols can exploit a significant advantage. Right out of the gate, this is a very neat twist.
3. Age of Empires IV gameplay is classic with some great new additions
Age of Empires IV is being billed as a ‘spiritual successor’ to Age of Empires II, so players will know what to expect after they boot it up. Players are tasked with advancing their faction through the ages: the Dark Age, Feudal Age, Castle Age, and Imperial Age.
They will achieve this by making it one of the globe’s stronger civilisations. To that end, they’ll need to research technology, mine resources, build up strongholds and flatten opponents on the battlefield.
Player-Vs-Player (PVP) matches are limited to 200 units for each player, but with eight possible participants in a game, that’s 1,600 units in all. The classic ‘rock, paper, scissors’ also endures. Pikemen beat cavalry, archers beat pikemen at range, and cavalry make mincemeat out of archers once they close the distance on them.
Players will recognise iconic units such as the trebuchet which can be used to level fortifications. Defending units can now fight on top of walls, as well as on the ground, which adds some more strategic elements to sieges as well as a new sense of verticality.
Units are now able to hide in forests in order to ambush foes (in a rather nice touch, if the player clicks on them while they’re undetected they whisper to one another) and some units have special abilities. In other words, Relic has taken everything that made Age of Empires II a great game back in its day and made some exciting additions.
4. Age of Empires 4 will have four campaigns from history
The William the Conqueror campaign goes beyond his lifetime to cover the centuries following the Norman Conquest of England. Not only does it include the Norman invasion across the channel and the Battle of Hastings, but it also alludes to the Magna Carta.
Narrative lead Philippe Boulle has also implied that Age of Empires IV may be compounded with more campaigns in the form of post-release downloadable content.
5. Age of Empires 4 will be hands-on with history
While Age of Empires has largely been a series set in historical ages, Relic take things a step further with this latest instalment. Under the name ‘Hands-On History’, the game features narrated documentaries that provide players with historical context to the battles and activities they’ll be engaged in.
At Xbox’s 2021 Gamescom showcase, Age of Empires 4 creative director Adam Isgreen demonstrated the historical footage included in the game. He showcased a film by UK production company Lion TV on the the counter-weight trebuchet. It shows mechanical engineer Dr. Shini Somara inspecting a catapult at Warwick Castle in England.
Other topics will include surgery, warfare, castles, flaming arrows, falconing, horse riding, armour, and music. Age of Empires IV also features period-specific art, music and language. Units speak ancient versions of their languages, which evolve as players proceed throughout the ages.
6. The production values are gorgeous
As one would expect from gaming rigs today, Age of Empires IV looks stunning. It can render in both 4K and Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) and while the individual units themselves may look somewhat un-detailed up close, when they’re seen from afar on superbly detailed battlefields, they do the job just fine.
Since the player’s view of the game for the most part hovers above the action – be that building up cities or commanding troops – the textures of buildings and even the lighting changes from age to age.
The game’s score – has had been the case throughout this series – is suitably epic, to compliment the action. For this, Relic Entertainment tapped up the talents of Mikolai Stroinski, whose credits include (among the numerous TV shows he’s worked for) The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt and League of Legends.
6. Age of Empires 4 system requirements
The minimum system requirements for Age of Empires 4 have been released by Relic. They show that they’re aiming for the game to be playable on a wide range of computer systems. You can see the minimum system requirements below:
- OS: Windows 10 64bit
- Processor: Intel Core i5-6300U
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: Intel HD 520
- DirectX: Version 12
- Storage: 50 GB available space
The announcement page of the Age of Empires IV beta included more specific details. While forgiving, they are slightly more demanding than the minimum specs listed above:
- OS: Windows 10
- Processor: 1.7-2.7GHz (turbo) 4 core: Intel Core i5-4460T (35w) / AMD FX-6300 or better
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 760 / AMD Radeon R7 260X or better with at least 2 GB of VRAM
7. It’s putting the community first
One of the many complaints that players have with modern games is the inclusion of micro-transactions, in which players can buy anything from skins, to weapons to pay-to-win mechanics. This is pretty run stuff to expect in a game sold at full price.
Relic is adamant that micro-transactions won’t be a part of Age of Empires IV. While they say that the possibilities of downloadable content – that would be expansion packs – is being explored, micro-transactions aren’t going to feature.
8. Age of Empires 4 mods
On top of that, those players who like modding their games will be overjoyed to hear that they’ll be able to do this in Age of Empires IV. The game’s director has called modding ‘a pillar of the franchise’ and is determined to keep it. Age of Empires 4 modding tools will be available in early 2022.
9. Age of Empires 4 download
Players can download Age of Empires 4 from the Microsoft Store and Steam on PC. The standard version of the game can be pre-purchased for £49.99 / $59.99, while it will also be available for Xbox Game Pass for PC.
The Digital Deluxe Edition of Age of Empires 4 costs £69.99 / $79.99, which includes digital bonus content such as the digital soundtrack, unit counters chart, and a compilation of art by concept artist Craig Mullins. It also includes exclusive in-game content: a coat of arms, player profile portrait and monument.
10. What time period is Age of Empires 4?
Age of Empires IV covers the Early Medieval period to the Early Modern period. This means that technologies include both medieval weaponry and gunpowder weapons such as bombards. Players will also be able to engage in battles from the 11th century Norman conquest of England to the Hundred Years War of the 14th and 15th centuries.
The eight diverse historical civilizations featured in the game ensure a variety of settings and missions covering 500 years of history.