Age of Empires is surely one of PC gaming’s most celebrated franchises. The original inspired many like it, but none that could quite match its deft mix of planning, resource management, strategic combat, and historical relevance. Now, the game is coming to Windows 10 PC in a new format, building upon the successful Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8 and iOS title of the same name: Age of Empires: Castle Siege.
“Many staff members at the studio have fond memories of playing the original Age of Empires,” said David Dubord, whose studio Smoking Gun Interactive is responsible for the upcoming Windows 10 PC release of Age of Empires: Castle Siege, hitting the Windows Store today. The game makes use of many of the civilizations, units, and historical advancements found in previous Age of Empires titles, so longtime fans should find plenty of nostalgic value here.
Indeed, the team at Smoking Gun is composed of many of the people responsible for PC classic Company of Heroes, and Age of Empires was certainly an influential title at the time. “A lot of us spent many late nights playing Age of Empires,” Dubord recalled. “We were very excited to get a chance to work on this iteration of the franchise.”
Players will see plenty of familiar elements, such as aging up through history, building/fortifying castles, using heroes, and – of course – training armies and fighting enemies. Unlike a lot of similar mobile-only titles, Castle Siege gives player direct control over their units in battle.
The Windows 10 version supports many of the improvements that Windows 10 brings with it, such as live tiles, hero stats, and challenges. Players will have a huge amount of information about their match at their fingertips on the desktop. “We’ve tried to incorporate as many of the Windows 10 features we can to make it easy to track your game progress, check your in-game status, and earn bragging rights for your gameplay achievements,” said Dubord.
And no matter the platform you play on, players’ data is always saved to the cloud, making it easy to pick-up-and-play Castle Siege across Windows 8, 8.1, 10 and iOS devices. Even better, fans who upgrade to the Windows 10 PC version of Castle Siege will get a special Richard the Lionheart statue to place in their city. Players can also link their Microsoft ID with their Gamecenter ID to collect Xbox Achievements. Windows users will be prompted to upgrade Castle Siege to the Windows 10 version once they have installed Windows 10.
Because the game is playable on both mobile and PC, there are multiple entry points for players. If you build an army on your Windows Phone or iOS device while riding home on the bus, for instance, that army will be ready and waiting when you load the game on your Windows 10 PC at home. The game is fully cross-platform, including achievements and all your progression.
What players of the original franchise may find different is that Castle Siege is not meant to be finished in a single sitting; rather, the world is persistent. Players still attack in real-time, controlling their units as they would in other more traditional strategy games. They are not, however, playing against another player in real-time, but rather attacking their opponent’s expertly fortified castle.
Because of this, players can tackle as much or as little as they like in a single sitting. “Some people log in for a short period of time to fight one battle or upgrade one tower, and others settle in for a longer session,” said Dubord. “Battles last no more than six minutes, but you can fight many of them.” Indeed, the persistent nature of the world allows players to indulge as well; Dubord said that some of his players are currently staying online for up to eight hours.
As mentioned, many of the familiar Age of Empires units and civilizations make an appearance in Castle Siege. Players choose from the Britons, Francs, Kievan Rus, Tuetons, Saracens, or Byzantines. The Barracks, Archery Range, Siege Workshop, and Stables are all there, along with many of the units that fans of the franchise are familiar with.
“One feature that we wanted to hold true to was building something that had a lot of depth in tactics and strategy,” Dubord explained. “Allowing players to control their units and heroes at all times during battle was an important decision that we made to stay true to the franchise, and allow for a much deeper gameplay experience.”
Castle Siege’s mix of actual history and creative alternatives should make for some heady, entertaining scenarios. In addition to nonfiction sources, the epic castle assaults in films like “Iron Clad” and “The Lord of the Rings” also served as inspiration. “The truth is sometimes stranger than fiction,” said Dubord. “That said, the game is rooted in history, and we wanted to be as accurate as we could… but fun gameplay was always the end goal.”
You can get your hands on Age of Empires: Castle Siege today on Windows 10 PC.