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Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is an Even Better Version of an Amazing RTS

Age of Empires II was already an amazing RTS, but Microsoft plans on making the whole package even better with Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition this year.

June 16, 2019

I was less than a year old when the original Age of Empires II came out but the game has still managed to leave an impact on me. While my only memories of the original were from watching others play, I jumped on board with 2013’s Age of Empires II: HD Edition and haven’t looked back since. Even though that game already seemed like a vast improvement upon the original release, Microsoft has still managed to turn things up a notch with Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition.

I was not only impressed by its gorgeous visual makeover, but also how the developers have faithfully maintained the core elements people love while doing so. In an E3 full of interesting strategy games like Age of Wonders: Planetfall, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Empire of Sin, this 20 year old game still manages to stand out just as much as the others due to the aforementioned improvements and the insane amount of content players will get with Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition.

Let’s get visuals out of the way first – Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition looks great in action. Any weariness I had about presentation was wiped away as soon as I got the chance to try the game on a 4K monitor for myself. While it remains to be seen if the game will run smoothly when at release, if Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition can keep up a stable frame rate at launch it will be worth picking up for the improved look alone.

“Microsoft has still managed to turn things up a notch with Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition.”

At its core, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is the same game as the original. While some UI things have been streamlined to be more user friendly, the developers made sure that this Definitive Edition is as faithful as possible. The developers of the game really stressed that one of the biggest requests from the community for this massive remaster was that the core gameplay that makes Age of Empires II what it is shouldn’t be touched. While Microsoft and the other developers on this project are taking that feedback to heart, they are still improving some ancillary parts of the game to improve the user experience.

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One major frustration of Age of Empires II is that players have to constantly click on buildings to see what they are, what they are doing, and what they are producing. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition wipes away that issue with several quality-of-life changes that make players more aware of what buildings are doing and making, what forces are at the player’s disposal, and more. Overall, improvements have been made to ensure that this entry feels good to use and is on par with its RTS contemporaries.

All of these improvements are impressive, but some Age of Empires II purest may just pick this up for the updated visuals and nothing else. The developers are making sure to appeal to those players too, as almost all the changes added to new versions of the game can be toggled on and off by the player. With the exception of the some balancing and the updated visuals, players can create a game that is nearly identical to how a match was in 1999. Even those looking to modify the game should find Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition appealing as the game will have mod support from launch through the series’ official website. Mods have been an integral part of the game and its community since 1999, so the developer ensured that they were faithful and supported it with Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition.

They are also adding a few other features to the game to encourage community growth. Not only can players stream from Mixer right from the game, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition will allow players to be a spectator in any match they want without taking up a player slot thanks to some Age of Empires IV tech being applied to this game. The tutorial will be in-depth and teach newcomers mechanics and strategies professional players use as well, so it is clear that Microsoft is really hoping to jump start Age of Empire II”s competitive community again.

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is poised to be the best jumping on point for the series ever.”

Overall, the accessibility and appeal to players old and new seems to be one of this game’s biggest draws. That, and the fact that will probably be one of the best deals content-wise in the genre this year. With The Last Khans, 3 new campaigns are being added and 35 different civilization from around the world will be playable in Age of Empires II. That is not even touching the game’s multiplayer and competitive scene, and at launch it will only cost $19.99 for newcomers and $14.99 for those who own Age of Empires II: HD Edition. If you are looking for a new RTS and have somehow missed out on this gem over the past 20 years, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is poised to be the best jumping on point for the series ever.

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is currently poised to come to PC through both Steam and the Windows Store sometimes this fall. Players of HD Edition do not have to worry though, as that game will not be removed from Steam after Definitive Edition releases. For fans who are sick of Age of Empires II, Microsoft is promising to talk about Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition and Age of Empires IV later this year.

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Tomas Franzese

Tomas Franzese is a News Editor at DualShockers, writing a variety of reviews and shedding light on upcoming games for both PC and consoles. While he has been a gamer most of his life, he began writing for DualShockers in 2016 and has almost never put his computer or a controller down since.

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