At one time, real-time strategy was one of the most popular genres. They came out often, with a single player campaign, advanced multiplayer and a map editor. Straightaway. It was at the beginning of the 2000s. And then the genre suddenly went out of fashion, but the publishers learned to release AAA products in a semi-finished state with the promise of finalizing and fixing everything. Just be patient and hope the project doesn’t die on its way to a brighter future (hello Anthem).
Age of Empires 4 is a great game. Relic Entertainment (creators of Company of Heroes 1-2, Warhammer 40k Dawn of War 1-3, and Homeworld 1-2) has managed to strike a striking balance between the classic rules of Age of Empires and WarCraft. They made the control scheme more convenient (troops can be sent into battle through the “A” button, this is important), they focused on the construction of large-scale fortifications and sieges. And also, they changed the concept familiar to the series, when the factions differed from each other in a couple of technologies and a unique unit.
Who is fighting
The eight factions presented in multiplayer are seriously different from each other. Only the British and French are immediately clear – they have hardly changed since Age of Empires 2. On the other hand, the Mongols have learned to quickly fold tent camps, they immediately have a maximum limit on the construction of warriors, they refuse to mine stone and sow fields. And of course their emphasis is on cavalry and horse archers.
Russia is calmer. The economy of the Russians depends on how much game they fill, and wooden fortresses serve as a reliable shelter in the early stages of the game. The Holy Roman Empire is proud of its prelates – these guys inspire the peasants to work hard, plus they immediately take relics scattered across the world map to the base. The Chinese adore fireworks, rapid-fire crossbows and walls. They also have tax inspectors, which is good passive income.
The most difficult nations are the Delhi Sultanate and the Abbasid Dynasty . At the first, all research is free, but it is carried out slowly. So they have to constantly hire scientists and build universities. They also have war elephants. The Abbasid dynasty benefits from the construction of anthill cities. Houses must be placed right next to each other in order to receive bonuses to the collection of resources and the speed of research.
Of course, these are not all the unique features of the factions. When you start to master them in multiplayer, each time you have to learn to play again. The old ease of Age of Empires 2 is not here, but the training is also comfortable. The game will tell you what and why to build.
Age of Empires
As before, we are moving from the dark era to the feudal, then to the castle and imperial. This opens up new technologies, buildings, warriors and improvements. Soldiers with wooden spears turn into mighty knights, clad in shining armor. It is a pleasure to watch such a gradual transformation.
The economy is an important component of Age of Empires 4. Peasants must be hired non-stop, sent to extract stone and gold, cut down trees and sow fields (does not apply to the Mongols). Gradually, the tiny town grows and becomes vulnerable to sudden attacks. One successful enemy raid with the destruction of part of your peasants is already serious damage. So you have to use another feature of the game – to build stone walls and raise archers on them. But you shouldn’t relax. The enemy can easily surround you with the same walls and Donjons (defensive-type castle complexes).
Multiplayer battles always take place on randomly generated maps, so scouting is a must. It is necessary to understand where the enemy is, what he is doing, where his rear is open. It is also important to locate resource deposits and Shrines. Capturing and holding the latter is one of the conditions for victory. You can also win by rebuilding and holding the Wonder of the World – a very expensive structure. Or, simply by destroying the enemy. Trivial, but effective.
Unfortunately, while “Rating Games” are not included, there is no support for mods, a map editor and a set of static maps important for esports, if championships are ever held on this game. Some of the above, the developers promise to implement “soon”. Let’s see what they mean by this word.
Now you can just fight in 1-on-1, 2-on-2, 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 multiplayer.
The game has daily tasks, players are assigned levels depending on the amount of experience gained. Why this is necessary is not entirely clear, given the absence of rating tables and corresponding awards.
For the sake of obtaining cosmetic emblems and icons, you can pass the “Tests of Mastery” – they must be completed separately for each faction, gradually, one after another. And they are perceived as an insult to fans of the strategy genre. You can successfully fight in multiplayer, play hundreds of matches in different ways, but until you defeat the AI of the minimum level … Yes, for the game you are not an expert and there is no name for you. By the way, about artificial intelligence.
The computer is stupid here, even by the standards of classic strategies from the 90s. He somehow portrays activity, builds something, develops and sends small groups of soldiers to you to “devour”, that’s all. The problem is, your soldiers aren’t smarter. By sending your army to the enemy settlement, you will watch with eyes widening in amazement as half of your army rushes to catch up with the two peasants, another third in a frenzy will pound the left house, and only the rest will enter the battle with the enemy forces. The soldiers here are small, you can forget about microcontrol, so you have to redirect the defeated deserters to the path of war with curses. Through the attack button (“A”). And they will again rush somewhere and do something of their own! Annoys.
As for players who prefer a single player game, the developers offer them four scenarios in the campaign: “Normans”, “Hundred Years War”, “Mongol Empire” and “Rise of Moscow” (ironic, since only subtitles have been translated into Russian, full Russian localization is not provided) …
The first two scenarios are lazy, devoted mostly to taking and holding fortresses. Such long missions are passed long and depressingly. But playing for the Mongols and the Russians is much more interesting. There you already need to control the map, and tasks change, and you rarely have to sit outside the city walls (especially by the Mongols).
And so that the passage of the scenarios was not to come off, the developers provided the game with some incredible number of videos. There are many of them, they are of excellent quality and tell not only the stories of conquests, but also about the creation of weapons and the construction of castles – professional documentary chronicles. The creators of this miracle have a direct road to Hollywood, to create historical films (otherwise they forgot how to do it, and how important attention to detail is).
Technical partThe graphics in the game are simple. There is nothing to admire. If we compare forehead to forehead, then Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition looks much more attractive and slows down less. Age of Empires 4 is overwhelming with poor detail and optimization (frame rate sags from simple camera movement: along, across, or when changing the tilt angle). From a functional point of view, everything is acceptable. Soldiers and buildings are easily distinguishable.
Sound and music are good. Here are just the same type of shouts and ringing of weapons when creating a soldier, calluses on the ears. If there is only one barracks, you can still endure. But if there are several of them, and several spearmen jump out of them at once, and after them more and more … You get tired of the clang. But over time, you get used to it.
A good basis for a great (future) game. Special thanks for the eight different factions to Relic Entertainment. Over time, the developers promise to add to Age of Empires 4 all inactive options marked “soon”. We will have rating games, mods, static maps. Perhaps, over time, they will finalize the AI (first of all, controlled soldiers, so that they do not rush behind the skirts of peasant women, but pay more attention to their opponents). Probably (but not certain), they will improve the optimization, tweak the graphics and sound design.
If all this is carried out, it will be an almost perfect strategy. The grand return of Age of Empires and our definitive recommendation. Now you can run through scenarios in the campaign, admire the cutscenes and get used to multiplayer with random opponents on random maps.
Let’s hope the developers will not be delayed with the implementation of plans in the game. The roadmaps scheduled for 10 years in advance are already nauseous.
- Great videos in the campaign
- Good scripts in the campaign for the Russians and the Mongols
- Eight fundamentally different nations in multiplayer
- Emphasis on the construction of fortifications and sieges
- Exciting multiplayer confrontations
- Comfortable learning and chewing basics for beginners
- Convenient control circuit
- Dumb AI
- Many options are expected in the future (we are waiting for “Rating games”, static maps and support for mods)
- Inexpressive graphics, poor optimization, long downloads
- Sound design travels over the ears with frequent sounds of the same type
- Pointless Daily Quests, Challenges of Mastery, and Level-Up Rewards