Age of Empires 4 Review - 16 Years of Anticipation Was Worth It
Now I'm desperately waiting for a campaign DLC!
Age of Empires 4
Relic Entertainment + World's Edge
Xbox Game Studios
Review copy provided by the publisher
It’s finally here. You’ve waited for 16 years, and I’m not going to keep you waiting anymore. So, if you are seeking a one-line review, Age of Empires 4 is worth the wait.
When Age of Empires 3 was released back in 2005, no one would imagine it wasn’t going to receive a sequel in a decade. The game was incredible. A huge step forward since Age of Empires 2, and a remarkable achievement in delivering a story-driven real-time strategy.
With such a strong predecessor, it might seem difficult for Relic Entertainment and World’s Edge to exceed the expectations, but they nail it with one of the most epic campaign modes ever seen in a real-time strategy game.
What Age of Empires 4 does in delivering a high-quality campaign mode, sets a new standard for historical strategy games. Similar to the previous instalment, the game offers different storylines for different kingdoms across the world. From the rise of Normans in England to the Mongol invasion in Easter Europe. All based on real-world events.
Each story gives you a compelling insight into the challenges that each dynasty faced in order to secure its dominance. Not only you can re-visit all the historical locations in documentary videos with a well-written narrative but also the game rewards curious players with even more info about the technological or cultural achievements of each kingdom during its dominance.
The amount of effort that the developers have put into the campaign mode of Age of Empires 4 really pays off. Every mission and every battle feels epic as if you are re-living the history. And you never get tired of playing more. Each storyline could take over 13 hours to complete in Intermediate difficulty and the whole campaign provides over 50 hours of gameplay. And then you have the Skirmish and Multiplayer modes with infinite replayability.
When it comes to gameplay, campaign missions are all objective-based. It’s either about defending or attacking or a combination of both. Completing multi-objective missions in higher difficulties (Intermediate or higher) could take hours. Similar to the previous entries of the series, resource management plays a key role in the game. And this time around, you have four resources.
Stone is the new resource in Age of Empires 4 and it brings a lot of new features to the game in reinforcing your base. The ability to build stone walls and outposts changes the gameplay a lot. Invading an enemy castle is now almost impossible without having the right Siege Engines in the army. The evolution of Siege equipment in Age of Empires 4 is one of the focal points of the development team.
While you progress through the ages and improve your military knowledge, you gain access to more advanced Siege Engines to crush enemy structures. Even some kingdoms have their own special Siege Engines, like Dehli Sultanate who uses elephants to destroy stone walls.
Featuring 8 different kingdoms, each with its unique weaknesses and strengths, Age of Empires 4 is a game that you barely get tired from playing.
Generally speaking, combat and tactical options in Age of Empires 4 have made significant progress. In special places on the map, you can hide your army and use camouflage to ambush the enemies. As a result, having Scouts in the army would be crucial to avoid any surprises.
The game, also, allows more control over units. So, you can tell them in which order to stand, or whether to leave or hold their position when the opposite army arrives. For instance, if your enemy is going to use mangonels against your infantry, you can order them to stand in distance between each other to take less damage.
Furthermore, your infantry can build some Siege equipment on the battlefield like Battering Rams to destroy any kind of structures or Siege Towers to deploy your melee warriors on top of stone walls and give enemy archers a lesson to remember. However, with all these new tactics and equipment, invading castles is still full of risks if you don’t have a proper plan.
Maybe the only part that in Age of Empires 4 that doesn’t show any sign of progress is naval wars. It’s basically the same experience that we had in Age of Empires 3.
Featuring 8 different kingdoms, each with its unique weaknesses and strengths, Age of Empires 4 is a game that you barely get tired from playing. There are always new plans to follow and new strategies to take into account. This game is definitely worth every penny you pay for, and you will get to my point once you begin your very first adventure in the campaign mode.
Regardless of whether you are an old-school fan of Age of Empires or a rookie, Age of Empires 4 is satisfying enough for both groups of audience. And it continues Xbox Game Studios’ great year after the incredible success of Psychonauts 2.