Sharpen your spears and saddle up your soldiers; Age of Empires IV has arrived to conquer your console. The latest instalment of our iconic strategy series arrived as a surprise announcement during Gamescom’s Opening Night Live and is available to play on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One from today. And I’ve been lucky enough to play it in advance – here’s what you need to know.
Following massive demand from the dedicated Age of Empires community, Age of Empires IV: Anniversary Edition brings the classic RTS experience to your living room, so you can conquer in comfort. It also joins Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, which landed on Xbox consoles back in January.
If you’re a console player eager to step onto the battlefield for the first time, or returning after a long time away like I am, Age of Empires IV: Anniversary Edition on Xbox consoles is a perfect place to start. The new tutorial will take you through the basics of building up a settlement, gathering resources such as wood and food, and amassing an army before allowing you to lay siege to your enemies. This step-by-step introduction eased me right back into the mechanics, and before I knew it, I was back on the war horse.
Armed with this fresh knowledge, you’ll be ready to take on 10 different historical civilizations found between the High Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance, as well as battle through four single-player campaigns based on historical wars from those periods. The tutorial levels allowed me to get acquainted with the English and French civilizations as part of the Norman Conquest, and left off at just the right point to encourage me to get stuck into the main campaign.
While I was initially overwhelmed by the idea of managing my armies with thumbsticks, there’s really nothing to worry about. The controls have been finely tuned by the strategy experts at World’s Edge, Climax Studios and Relic Entertainment to deftly condense all those keyboard shortcuts into an intuitive controller-friendly interface, and it feels absolutely wonderful. Switching between building tools, villager actions and military commands is a breeze via a new radial menu, handcrafted for the console experience.
There’s a new Villager Priority System too, which allows you to set your villagers off doing certain tasks at the click of a button. This is a great system for me, as someone that frequently forgets to check up on my population, only to find a handful of them standing around idly awaiting my command. With this new, efficient system, no berry will go unpicked, no gold unmined.
There’s nothing quite like enjoying the fruits of your labor as your cavalry barges through a palisade, while a strategically placed group of archers picks off a group of unsuspecting spearmen, and the controls ensured that I didn’t miss a single arrow. I could flip between units with ease, click right back into the action with a single button, and take advantage of the selection tools to quickly bring in reinforcements when the battle got tough. Nothing about it feels sluggish; which is an incredibly refreshing experience with a controller.
Seasoned Age of Empires IV players will also feel right at home with these new console controls, but if you’d prefer to stick with your trusty keyboard and mouse, do not fear – those inputs are also supported inside the console version of the game as well.
Much like the conquerors of old, Age of Empires IV: Anniversary Edition has confidently planted its flag on Xbox consoles and it’s here to stay, and I daresay it is now stronger than ever.
Pick up Age of Empires IV: Anniversary Edition on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One right now, or play it via Game Pass.
Age of Empires IV: Anniversary Edition
Xbox Game Studios