The Age of Empires franchise is considered a true classic of its genre and PC gaming in general, but it hasn’t maintained its relevance quite like some of its contemporaries. Its fans’ enduring love, however, has maintained it throughout the collapse of the original developer behind the series, Ensemble Studios, and now Microsoft is looking to bring it back to the fore.
Following the announcement of a “Definitive Edition” of the very first Age of Empires, we learned that both Age of Empires II and III would be remastered (thanks Kotaku). That will take things much further than the AOEII “HD Edition” that is currently available, but we should note that Age of Empires IV is an entirely new game.
Discounting some of the mobile titles released over the past decade, it will be the first main Age of Empires game since 2005. The new release looks set to potentially span more eras of history than its predecessors, with lots of different technological epochs shown in its announcement trailer.
Fan response has been overwhelmingly positive. In just 24 hours the trailer has drummed up more than two million views and the like to dislike ratio is very one-sided — in a good way.
Pulling in Charles Dance to provide the voice-over to the epic-sounding trailer was a smart move on Microsoft’s part, but many will now turn to Relic Entertainment to see what it can do. The developer has a very strong pedigree for real-time strategy games, having developed the Homeworld games, and the Dawn of War and Company of Heroes franchises, over the past two decades. Although it was sold off to Sega as part of the THQ collapse, it has continued to find success since.
Time will tell as to whether Age of Empires IV can live up to its predecessors. It has big shoes to fill, but even at this early stage, it has a lot of fan momentum behind it.
No release date has yet been set for the new game.
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