Celebrating Age of Empires’ 25th anniversary Microsoft has announced Age of Empires II and IV are coming to Xbox One plus Xbox Series X/S consoles, alongside a remastered Age of Mythology for PC.
Age of Empires II (AOE2) will be available on January 31, 2023, while Age of Empires IV is planned for later that year. These Xbox versions will support gamepads in addition to mice and keyboards inputs. The game will also receive an optional crossplay multiplayer for those looking for a challenge. Finally, an xCloud version will also be offered allowing you to continue conquests while on commute.
AOE II has 42 civilisations going from ancient Aztecs and Mayans all the way to Franks with their Axeman, Japanese with their Samurai, and Britons with Longbowman. The community behind it is so active that 14,000 mods have been created and published.
AOE IV is still new, thus we’re still to see the entire civilisation roster. For the time being, 10 civilisations are present, the Abbasid Dynasty, Chinese, Delhi Sultanate, French, English, Holy Roman Empire, Mongols, Rus, Ottomans, and Malians… alongside four campaign stories.
Both console versions will be available through the Microsoft Store, Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and xCloud.
But that’s not all, Age of Mythology (AOM) is getting a remaster called Retold. For those who are unfamiliar, AOM takes the gameplay of AOE II and blends it with Greek, Egyptian and Norse mythology to create a fantastic world with divine powers and mythic creatures. Apart from the basic units and buildings, you’ll have the power to summon titans, cast spells, start earthquakes, or drop meteor showers on opponents’ cities.
I regard both games as some of the best I ever played. Why is that? Well, for starters, I played hours and hours of AOE2 without ever getting tired of it. After each match, I was eager to launch another battle the next day after school. There was always a way to improve tactics – a blast from the past where you didn’t need the blessing of an anti-cheat to play.
Now, whether the console experience is going to be good or not is another question. These old games are built from the ground up with keyboards and mice in mind, so translating that into a controller may be complicated, but not impossible, since Microsoft has RTS games like the Halo Wars series on Xbox.
Optimisation is another important point. While RTS gameplay style doesn’t require super high framerates, a good 60+ FPS would make animations much more pleasant to look at. And obviously, the number-one priority should be online stability, as no one wants to see units teleporting all over the place; bad unit-sync would ruin the game.
If they turn out at least as good as the Halo Wars games, some great times are ahead of us. Extra points for the inclusion inside Xbox Game Pass and xCloud.