Originally announced in 2017, Age of Empires IV has had series fans waiting in anticipation for its release. After all, Age of Empires hasn’t seen a new entry in the series since 2005. However, that is set to change when Age of Empires IV launches this fall, an event for which Xbox is building anticipation.
Last week, Xbox revealed a lot of new information about the game, clarifying how it will exceed the ambitions of the previous entry. From brand new campaigns to an expanded list of civilizations to command, here are five reasons you should be excited for Age of Empires IV.
Four Full Campaigns
One of the most vital ways in which IV diverges from past Age of Empires games is in its approach to campaigns. Previous games tended to feature only one campaign focusing on a single character, with additional campaigns introduced via DLC expansions. In stark contrast, Age of Empires IV will offer four full-length campaigns, each divided into chapters and following family lines across generations. People need only look at the campaigns offered to see how Age of Empires IV appears primed to deliver an experience as compelling as it is different.
For example, one of the featured campaigns focuses on the Normans. Beginning in 1066 with the Battle of Hastings, the Norman campaign will spotlight the famous conquest that laid the foundations for the formation of England. Players will experience these events from the perspective of William the Conqueror, as well as taking part in the conflict between Henry I and Duke Robert over the title of King. If the Norman campaign’s premise is any indication, the game as a whole has the potential to showcase spectacular depictions of certain moments in time.
New War Strategies
Among the new strategic options available to players, an increased emphasis on using and combatting stealth proves especially intriguing. Players will be able to set up ambushes without fear of enemies knowing where units are hiding. Meanwhile, scouts have been given the ability to see enemies preparing an ambush of their own. Of course, more robust stealth mechanics aren’t the only addition of interest in Age of Empires IV.
The process of defending and raiding castles has also seen improvement, thanks to the introduction of wall combat. Warriors can now be placed in front of, or atop, their castle’s walls to defend it from foes. On top of that, siege weapons and units will also be at a given army’s disposal. Whether players are attacking or defending, this addition could very well present them with a compelling challenge.
Continuing the tradition of having multiple civilizations to choose from in combat, Age of Empires IV will feature eight civilizations. Though four have yet to be announced, it is known that the Mongols, the Chinese, and the English will be playable. In addition, the Delhi Sultanate will be featured here, marking their first appearance in an Age of Empires game.
While each civilization features different abilities and traits, only a handful have been disclosed in any detail. For instance, it was revealed that the Delhi Sultanate will get access to elephant units. We also learned that the Mongols will have the ability to pack up and move their buildings to places safe from combat.
Going along with the multiple civilizations, the development team created randomly generated maps to keep each battle fresh and different. Having the random maps should, in theory, entice players to plan their moves with care and make use of their chosen civilization’s abilities.
To help drive home that people are playing through stories based on real events, each campaign will feature documentary footage and narration. Filmed on location, this footage is intended to provide context as to why the player’s chosen civilization ended up in a given situation.
That extra layer of real-world details gets downright incredible when one considers how it evolves over the course of a campaign. As the player watches the footage, the narration for a given civilization changes over time. Earlier narration is delivered in the ancient version of a civilization’s language, while later footage sounds more modern to account for the player’s progress.
The Little, Big Things
Big changes are all well and good, but it’s the gradual shifts in audio-visual cues that make a world of difference. Each civilization will feature its own soundtrack and aesthetic that grow more complex alongside the society in question. The slow and steady nature of such elements feel appropriate here, particularly when paired with the game’s approach to architecture.
Age of Empires IV will use the changing design of buildings and structures to illustrate a civilization’s evolution throughout the ages. Players controlling the English, for example, will be able to witness thatched roofs give way to medieval designs over the course of play. Even the textures on buildings change from era to era. It’s this attention to detail, meant to convey the passage of time and the progress of cultures, that makes us believe the final game will deliver on its promises.