Microsoft’s 1999 real-time strategy game Age of Empires II gets a new lease on life later this month with Rise of the Rajas, an all-new expansion developed in collaboration with studios Forgotten Empires and Skybox Labs.
The upcoming expansion will be available exclusively within the game’s 2013 remake, Age of Empires II: HD Edition, and will add a collection of new units, technologies, and civilizations across four new campaigns.
Age of Empires II remains a favorite among RTS buffs for its unique gameplay that challenges players to balance resource-gathering, town-raising, and military strategy throughout a series of included campaigns. The original game later saw a single expansion release, The Conquerors, before creator Ensemble Studios moved on to its next project, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds.
Nearly 15 years after Age of Empires II was originally released, Hidden Path Entertainment resurrected the experience with the 2013 launch of Age of Empires II: HD Edition. Boasting remastered graphics and Steam Workshop support, it has enjoyed newfound popularity in recent years, leading its porting studio to pursue new expansions.
Following up on a pair of expansions — Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten and 2015’s Age of Empires II HD: The African Kingdoms — the upcoming Rise of the Rajas expansion will take place in southeast Asia, and give players control over new units including Battle Elephants and Imperial Skirmishers. RTS fans can also expect to see a new map type, along with improved AI and a spectator mode.
Developers SkyBox Labs and Forgotten Empires have also rolled out improvements to Age of Empires II HD‘s core multiplayer mode in preparation for the next expansion release.
“We’ve had an open beta over the past few months to identify and correct a few performance issues,” Joe Homes, community coordinator, said.
“With today’s announcement of Rise of the Rajas, we’re also pushing these performance upgrades live to all of our players for free. Among other things, this makes multiplayer matches much more stable, and we’ve added multiplayer restore back in, so if you ever do lose a match in progress to a desync, you can get it back and pick up where you left off!”
Rise of the Rajas launches digitally on December 19.