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Age of Empires: Fan Preview Recap – Everything Revealed at Today’s Global Community Event

Age of Empires: Fan Preview


  • Today, we got our first look at new gameplay footage for the upcoming Age of Empires IV.
  • The Definitive Editions will receive new updates, including the Dawn of the Dukes expansion for Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition and the United States civilization for Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition.
  • Visit the Virtual Village to explore the buildings, experiences, learn more about Age of Empires IV, and enjoy exclusive video content.

A new Age is here! Today, we got our first look at new gameplay footage for the upcoming Age of Empires IV during the Age of Empires: Fan Preview event that showcased the wonderful Age of Empires community, as well as celebrated the many games that have made this franchise a mainstay in the strategy space for two decades. Let’s dive in.

An in-depth look at Age of Empires IV

The preview event kicked off with a detailed look at one of the new playable civilizations in Age of Empires IV, the Delhi Sultanate, and showed off one of their most iconic units in action: the War Elephant. Mixed in with gameplay of archers firing down from above on castle walls, spearmen engaging in combat, Sultanate Scholars capturing sacred sites and supporting War Elephant assaults – it all looks very Age of Empires and we couldn’t be happier to see it in action.

The global show continued with a peek into the Norman campaign, which also gave us our first look at the new presentation style for Age of Empires IV’s campaigns. Drawing inspiration from gilded manuscripts of the time, the “golden soldiers” project historical events over present-day real-world locations, giving us a realistic sense of place in how events unfolded hundreds of years ago.  It’s very BBC documentary styled-inspired, and it looks great. Get ready for more of this throughout the three other campaigns in Age of Empires IV.

The Norman campaign will tell the story of Duke William of Normandy as he wrestles control of England from King Harold, starting at the Battle of Hastings, then later following his descendants Robert, William II, and Henry I as they continue to fight for what would become modern day England. All the classic medieval units were shown here in action, from knights on horseback engaging with pikemen across large fields of battle capped off with a great looking castle siege.

It all looks very epic with many units on the field and the game engine itself displaying well detailed grass on the fields, intricate stone textures on the castle walls, and detailed features of units from their shields, spears, and armor all help to bring an authentic look and feel to this strategy game.

A look through the Ages: Medieval, Feudal, Castle, and Imperial

Following that reveal, we were treated to an even deeper dive into gameplay in Age of Empires IV, starting off with the High Medieval Ages and a battle between the English and the Delhi Sultanate, as we were about to be guided through the game’s four Ages. It started off showcasing English villagers gathering resources to start building up their Town Center, with scouts hunting deer and villagers collecting meat from sheep. Soon a lone scout comes across an enemy fortification, and from there you can guess what comes next: war. It’s not long until we see spearmen, archers, and more combat-oriented construction developing as the civilizations start to age-up and skirmishes escalate to war as each continues their battle for control of the map.

On the other side of the world, the Feudal Age featured the Mongols and the Chinese civilizations, a great contrast to the castles and knights shown earlier. The Chinese identity is immediately apparent, with unique architecture and costuming, period-accurate language, and military units clad in traditional garb wielding intimidating weaponry.

Contrasting them were the Mongols and the heavy use of tent-like structures, which suits their playstyle and allows them to pack up their entire village and relocate to different sections of the map in search of resources. With their focus on the stone resources and being able to move their entire city at will, many new tactics and strategies become possible.

Speaking of novel strategies, we got a look at the new stealth forest mechanic, which are unique patches of forest that units can hide within to set up ambushes. Sight into and within these forest areas is severely limited, meaning armies could move right past each other and never see the other! You’ll know that your units are in stealth woods by the blue outline around them and their whispered responses.

Next was a preview of The Castle Age, now featuring an advanced Delhi Sultanate and English civilization battle – this was full on War Elephants taking on giant castles, siege towers creeping their way forward, soldiers clashing swords along castle walls… it was all very epic.

Finally, the gameplay video returned to the Imperial Age as the Chinese and Mongols, now with huge epic keeps, multiple unit structures like barracks and stables, and more refined architecture as they prepare for a Mongol invasion. Massive units took to the field of battle, full of trebuchets hurling rocks at the castle walls, soldiers sprinting across the field on horseback, nests of bees volleying explosives, signal fireworks being shot into the air to boost morale, and more.

Everything we’ve seen so far illustrates just how well Relic Entertainment has been able to capture the look and feel of classic Age of Empires gameplay (gather, build, age-up, and explore) that has made the series so unique. I’m very interested to see more of how distinct each civilization will play out as we get closer to launch later this year.

A look behind the scenes at Relic Entertainment

After the first look gameplay, we went behind the scenes at Relic Entertainment. It’s always great to put a human face to the creation of a game, especially during a global pandemic. Despite the challenges of working through the pandemic, mainly by working from home, the team was still able to collaborate remotely to  build Age of Empires IV.

One of the things we learned was how much the team relied on working with their “Community Council,” a group of dedicated Age of Empires community members that has helped with playtesting and providing valuable feedback to shape the game. It’s great to see this recognition and trust to bring them into the fold.. After all, it’s the community that will be playing this game long after release and getting their input early on will only help improve its potential with the strategy gaming community.

We also got a look at some of the work being put into capturing the historical accuracy of the game, from consultants to attending reenactment events, all designed to help make the game as authentic as possible — every sound and unit in the game is informed by history. Just from this brief look, it’s clear the team has done a great job of not only capturing the essence of the original games, but also of history.

Updates to Age of Empires: Definitive Editions

The Definitive Editions will receive some new updates as well, starting with the Dawn of the Dukes expansion this Summer for Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition that takes players to Eastern Europe with new campaigns and much more. Also, later this year, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition will launch Co-Op Historical Battles which will feature handpicked campaign missions and historical battles to play with friends.

Then on April 13, Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition will release its first major update, the United States civilization. This new civ will feature a new home city, nine new units, a new age-up mechanic, and more. The U.S. civilization will be free for a limited time for those who complete a 50 State Challenge. All players need to do is complete up to 3 challenges per day and unlock the civ on the completion of the last challenge. Alternatively, the U.S. civilization can also be purchased directly via Steam or the Windows Store for $4.99 USD. Age of Empires III: DE will also have another update planned for later this year featuring African civilizations; we’ll have more details to share here later this year.

Age of Empires IV closed beta and Alienware sweepstakes

Capping off all the news were the first details of the upcoming Age of Empires IV closed beta that will be open to Age Insider members who sign up on Age Insiders can also enter a sweepstakes to win a one-of-a-kind Alienware battlestation, featuring a custom-skinned Age of Empires Alienware Aurora R11 Desktop setup, an Alienware 7.1 Gaming Headset, an Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor, and more! The sweepstakes runs through April 24. Click here for more details.

Visit the Virtual Village

Now the show has wrapped, further your celebration of all things Age of Empires by visiting the Virtual Village! Explore the buildings, experiences, learn more about Age of Empires IV and enjoy exclusive video content. Get creative by producing your own avatar medallion, a village postcard or even your own Coat of Arms. There’s plenty more to discover so why not pay a visit?

We’ll have more to share about Age of Empires IV in the coming months as we march closer to launch this Fall. Be sure to stay tuned here to Xbox Wire for all the latest news and updates for your favorite games on Xbox and Windows 10 PC.

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