Age of Empires has been a classic RTS series that we have all known and loved for years, however, 2 has been the one to beat. Since the first and third games just can’t compete, I was apprehensive about buying the fourth installment. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised and found the game to be worth exploring. Age of Empires IV is an excellent and brutal experience that brings players back to the golden age of what classic real-time strategy games are all about. While I don’t agree with the $59.99 price point, it’s still a massive improvement from the third game and offers a great campaign and coop adventure.
A Strong and Lengthy Campaign
If there’s anything that stands out the most in this game, it’s definitely the 40 mission long campaign filled with sword-clashing drama. The story jumps into different periods of history, leading off with the English squaring up with the French during the Middle Ages. Each chapter of the missions offers not only a tutorial in the beginning, but challenging and fun objectives to overcome the enemy. Whether its storming a castle with the Mongols or fighting off the French advance the game keeps players invested in the story and provides oppertunities to practice different strategies. While the game does not provide the same cut throat feeling and ESport vibes that Age of Empires 2 offers, it does feel like a more relaxed version due to the story campaign. It also gives more narration to the trials that the English, Mongols, Rus, and Normals face with footage of landscapes and battlefields from the different Eras.
Classic AOE Gameplay with Spice
Every race provides their unique traits with different difficulty ratings, providing vanilla players a great starting experience to warm up to the more challenging playstyles. For example, while the English are a great starting point with a higher defense and agricultural playstyle making them easier to manage, the Rus being a higher difficulty rating gains bonuses for hunting and trade. The Chinese act as a production powerhouse and gain bonuses on landmark discovery, while the Holy Roman Empire is more religious and gains bonuses on buildings placed near their central structures. Every Empire is so unique and has such a different playstyle making location and set up essential even against AIs (which are just as brutal as before). There is also more control in picking your map for coop, for while it’s randomized still in your location and layout players get a choice in overall setting such as the trees and mountains in Europe or Asia. This can also make or break the race you decide to play for sometimes you can end up in an area with little forest or animals, cutting down on important resources for your trait bonuses.
Brutal AI and New Formulas
While many players will fall into the same routines laid out by previous entries, there are some new notable changes. Age advancement choices are different, allowing more room for new strategies. Winning conditions are also different in the fact that they leave room for matches to be more paced. For example, conquest requires killing only landmarks that increases each age. Religious wins requirements are to hold on to all Sacred Sites for 10 minutes leading to more cut throat strategies. There is also of course the classic Wonder Victory which pretty much feels the same as the Religious in which you guard your World Wonder for 10 minutes. Management has also never been better when creating and laying out your troops and setting commands. Rotating between groups is also more convenient compared to before, providing a cleaner way to manage troops than the previous games. Everything is laid out for players seamlessly in a nice and neat environment. Overall the game is mostly the same, other than making it more up to date and easier to manage.
While the game is not as competitive as the legendary AOE 2, it is still a great entry to the series. While the game felt safe and lacking in some areas, it offers a great campaign mode and coop experience. Age of Empires IV is a more relaxed and modern version that provides players a relaxing escape and a good starting point for the series.
Veteran gamer, tech nerd, comic addict, anime lover, and just your average introverted weeb.