The review of Age of Empires IV: the return of the Lord of strategic video games
Brace yourselves brave knights and would-be rulers, as it’s time to return to the most glorious battlefield of all. After 16 years since the last chapter, Age of Empires IV will be with us soon. The master of strategic video games, who made the genre bigger and more popular than ever, is about to make a comeback in a big way. From 28 October the fourth chapter of the saga will be ready to guide you in the most epic battles of the Middle Ages. Meanwhile, following court intrigues and support from Microsoftwe were able to get our hands on the full version of Age of Empires IV that we tell you in this review.
Our Age of Empires IV review
Age of Empires IV is the new latest installment in the real-time strategy saga that made the genre great. Since the release of Age of Empires III (dating back to 2005), the saga has undergone a development that involved the remakes of all previous chapters, new unreleased expansions, graphic and technical improvements and much more. What fans had been waiting for for some time, however, was a new chapter that could match the potential of Age of Empires II, which has always been considered the best title for environments, game mechanics and multiplayer. Age of Empires IV is in fact positioned as a real sequel to that second chapter, retracing the history of the Middle Agesof the populations of the time and of its most famous historical figures.
In fact, to keep us company in this chapter 8 civilizations: The British, the Chinese, the French, the Holy Roman Empire, the Mongols, the Rusians, the Delhi Sultanate and the Abbasid dynasty. Each of these civilizations has gods perks, unique units and a unique gameplay style. The Age of Empires series has already accustomed us to the uniqueness of each people since the first chapter, but in Age of Empires IV, the level of detail and minutiae reaches a new standard. In addition to the more classic buffs such as the most powerful cavalry in France or specific technologies for the archers of the English, some civilizations have unique characteristics. The Mongols, a renowned nomadic population, can, for example, pack each building and move it to a new location. The Rusians, on the other hand, can build gods hunting lodgesunique buildings that allow him to earn gold by hunting and from nearby forests.
Characteristics of this type are repeated for each civilization which, for the first time in the history of the franchise, are characterized by a difficulty level. This indicates how difficult it is to manage the economy and military forces and how much attention must be paid to get the most out of civilization itself.
Age of Empires IV
Relic Entertainment, World’s Edge
Discovering the medieval empires
In Age of Empires IV they are available 4 main campaigns: The Normans, the Hundred Years War, the Mongol Empire and the Rise of Moscow. Each of them recalls, for development and rhythm, as well as for the settings, those of Age of Empires 2. A narrator tells the epic deeds of characters and populations in a timeline that varies according to the chosen campaign. The first, in chronological order and presentation, is that of the Normans in which we will experience the exploits of the kingdom of England, internal struggles and foreign invasions. We will therefore not follow the exploits of a single hero (as was the case in AoE II) but we will embark on a journey through history that spans hundreds of years. Likewise The Hundred Years Warwhich the players of the series will remember with the Campaign of Joan of Arc, will not only concern the Maid of Orleans but all the issues, battles and political intrigues from 1350 to 1450.
It is a new way of telling the history of these civilizations that moves away from the previous chapters but that has managed to involve us in history like never before.
History is back
One of the features that was missing in Age of Empires III and which helped to make its impact within the franchise less important, was in fact theabsence of history, preferred to the more or less intriguing adventures of the imaginary Black Dynasty. In AoE IV, on the other hand, each game mission is interspersed with an exceptional cinematic video which, thanks to fantastic reconstructions and contemporary glimpses of historical places, enriched by computer graphics, are able to give us a clear, simple and effective idea of what we will face in the next mission.
Not only that, after a few games we will be able to unlock interesting films that tell the military life in the Middle Ages, such as the development of siege weapons, armor but also extracts of epic characters and tales. With Age of Empires IV, history returns and in a big way.
The power of 3
From the point of view of Gameplay, however, Age of Empires IV does not ignore the previous chapter, quite the contrary. Age of Empires IV represents the union of all the strengths of all the Age of Empires published so far. An intriguing mix designed to win over both fans of the series and new recruits.
Compared to the previous chapter, The Mother City mechanics have been dropped and resource collection points are returning for inhabitants and fishing vessels. The troops return to being individually trained (no longer in groups of 5) even if some buildings of certain civilizations allow the arrival of more types of units with a single training. L’increasing ages (Early Middle Ages, Feudal Age, Age of Castles and Imperial Age) takes place by building a particular structure between two available (by age). By choosing one or the other you will have several advantages and features.
Small, great revolution in the history of the Franchise is represented by stone walls that for the first time can accommodate troops on foot. Siege units such as theAries and the Siege Tower which are built by the soldiers themselves. Towers can lean on the enemy walls and allow the soldiers inside to invade the enemy army from above and defeat the opposing archers. Other news concern the influences that certain buildings they can give to troops and other buildings. The English mills, for example, guarantee a speed of production of the countryside built around while the French stables allow a more rapid development of the military units of the neighboring buildings.
Details of this type we find as far as the eye can see and it will take several hours of play to master them all. Not surprisingly, in Age of Empires IV we find a new system of Masters, divided for each civilization. Will you be able to become the best generals of each civilization?
Age of Empires IV review: “The Lord of Strategists”
There are a lot of new gameplay innovations in Age of Empires IV, too many to be written in a review without the risk of boring you or taking away the pleasure of discovery. Suffice it to say that some troops are endowed with special abilities that not all civilizations have. English archers can, for example, create defensive palisades to stop the incoming cavalry, as well as create a temporary camp to heal. The spearmen and halberdiers who are given the command to “hold position” will not simply stand still but will position their pikes forward in order to stop the charges of the enemies.
These mechanics will make the difference between victory and defeat, and having the biggest army of all won’t be enough to win. Strategy, finally, is the key and mechanics such as attacks from above, the development of technologies, different formations and the right choice of troops will be fundamental.
Style and sound
From a technical point of viewAge of Empires IV shows us one graphics similar to the last chapter but vastly improved with the latest features offered by today’s technology. Detailed maps, with high quality textures and an excellent play of light and shadow characterize the game. Particularly interesting, varied and equally detailed are the animations of all the units and the actions they perform that manage to involve the player in any situation. On the ground, areas and decorations will automatically develop according to the constructions. Next to the monastery, we will often and gladly see a pleasant garden developing which, although it has no function, offers a pleasant visual detail. The game is full of elements like these.
The audio compartment with calm and pleasant music in the initial stages of the game and more adventurous during the fights or the charges of the enemies. The dubbing of the troops and the narrator of the campaigns was also particularly apt. While we missed hearing a voice and several lines of dialogue from the heroes, the concept of the “omniscient outsider” proved to be in line with the new way of telling history.
During the games for the writing of this review of Age of Empires IV we have never encountered any kind of glitches or bugs. On the contrary, however, we found a great instability of the game with consequent crashes of various types. Although our machine fully satisfied the recommended features, we found ourselves having to restart the game and the PC several times. Unfortunately, we also happened to run into some corrupt bailouts which forced us to restart the game several times. In all likelihood we are faced with defects that will be filed over time and in all probability, before the game itself is released.
Age of Empires IV review in a nutshell: a welcome, awaited, glorious return
Age of Empires represents for us (and for the author of this review) the saga that made us the gamers we are today and Age of Empires IV is the chapter we’ve been waiting for. A return to the past but without forgetting the habits of contemporary players, they come together in a perfect mix of history, strategy and epic battles. Added to these are the classic skirmish modes and the now inevitable Art of War with interesting challenges for the most competitive players. In this regard, avi also expects a fantastic multiplayer mode with lots of ranked and a ranking system never so detailed. To all this, support for Mods will soon be addedwe can only imagine what awaits us!
In short, Age of Empires IV brings back the power of the saga and the mechanics of real-time strategists which, through thick and thin, have always been part of the video game world. Could Age of Empires IV lead to a new golden age of the genre?
Age of Empires IV will be available starting October 28 on PC.