• Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

Age of Empires IV: our impressions of the revival of a cult license

Byeditorial

Oct 26, 2021

6

After more than fifteen years of absence, the new Age of Empires will be released on October 28, the opportunity to present the main features of this episode IV which goes back to the Middle Ages to conquer fans of the past as well as future players.

Age of Empires, it is a classic among the classics which rocked the youth of the PC gamers of the 90s. This series of RTS (or RTS in French for “real time strategy”) declined in three episodes marked the history of the video game through its campaigns, its cheat codes which is still remembered almost 25 years later (from “PEPPERONI PIZZA” for a food bonus to “how do you turn this on” to spawn a car equipped with machine guns) which have helped the craziest of us, the “Wololo” of his priests which resonates even in today’s memes and of course a solid multiplayer, still place of friendly and professional competitions.

Having an army of cars was a bit of a cheat.

Suffice to say that the fan community is impatiently awaiting this new opus, hoping that the experience offered by Microsoft, World’s Edge and Relic Entertainment will be there. In any case, we were able to take control of the game and test the different modes for many hours in order to give you our impressions. For a complete test of the game from all angles, we can only advise you to read that of our colleagues from Gamekult to be published very soon.

Game preview

After a little basic tutorial, we find ourselves in known land on a menu which obviously offers an online multiplayer mode and various single player modes, namely skirmishes against the AI, campaigns, and the art of war. The latter is a welcome novelty which aims to teach neophytes the basics of competitive play through challenges in order to become effective in building its economy or for combat. Enough to avoid stinging defeats online even if the countless internet and YouTube tutorials allow us to go much further in general.

The Art of War mode allows you to acquire the basics of the game.

In total, eight factions are proposed, from the English to the Chinese via the Sultanate of Delhi and… the French (honor is safe!). Each people obviously has its own characteristics and strengths that will orient the gameplay very differently. Those who know Age of Empires will therefore not be disoriented.

The campaign is limited to four historical periods and associated factions throughout the Middle Ages and we therefore find an experience similar to Age of Empire II: The Age of Kings. Each campaign is made up of a series of scenarios that make us relive the history of the Mongol Empire, the Normans, the Hundred Years War or the Russians through major battles of varying degrees of success.

“Age of Empires” meets Arte

In this fourth opus, the publisher has gone much further than before to understand certain historical aspects of the different campaigns, by offering at the beginning of each scenario a context and a very interesting narration, interspersed with very interesting explanatory videos.

Some videos mix real images and animations.

These mini documentaries sometimes return to the geopolitics of the moment, to major battles that have taken place here and there, or to technical processes on the manufacture or use of certain weapons. These videos unlocked by successfully completing missions are sometimes accompanied by some additional explanatory texts. A real research work has been carried out by the studios and the quality of the rendering is at the rendezvous – not bad to cultivate in a playful way between two sacking of innocent cities.

Of the usefulness of chain mail.

We welcome in any case this originality which should appeal to the curious and which will give children a good excuse for their parents to buy them the game under the guise of history lessons.

Nice graphics, but …

We were expecting a good visual slap for a game coming out in late 2021 – especially with the work that has gone into the past few years to remaster the old ones. Age of Empires – unfortunately we won’t have to turn the other cheek. Yes Age of Empires IV is not missed (far from it), the quality of the graphics could have been better. We can undoubtedly see the desire to offer a game accessible to as many hardware configurations as possible, but the choice could have been left to the players.

A small battle on the outskirts of a fort.

Besides problems of clipping very present – which should be corrected soon, we hope -, the quality of the textures of the environment and of the units would almost make us go back 10 years if we do not push the “hidden” setting of the quality of the geometric details to the maximum (it remains by default on “high”). A small disappointment, especially when we compare the game to the Definitive Edition of its predecessor which appears to be more successful in some respects … Fortunately, great care has been taken with the soundtrack and the sound design, which adapt in particular according to the faction played and reinforce the immersion in the game.

What configuration to play?

The configuration recommended by Microsoft consists of a 3.6 GHz 6-core processor (Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 1600), 16 GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce 970 GPU or AMD Radeon RX graphics card. 570. We carried out most of our test on a laptop PC equipped with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 (the Lenovo Legion 7s) and that is obviously sufficient.

We have, however, also installed the game on the Huawei MateBook 14s, a computer without a dedicated graphics card, running the integrated GPU of an Intel Core i7-11370H processor, and it is quite possible to play with lowering the quality of graphics. at least. We were able to maintain an average of 107 fps by setting the game to low; perfectly fluid, but not very pleasant to watch. It is possible to play with the graphics in “medium”, but the fluidity of the game takes a hit (around 32 fps on the same stage).

We will not dwell on the gameplay elements which ultimately differ quite a bit fromAge of Empire II, and we’ll leave it to Gamekult to give you all the details about the game before you can get your hands on it on October 28. In any case, despite some pitfalls, the latter came in the series of Age of Empires is fun to play, and is likely to endure over time. The single player campaigns are successful and the history lessons particularly interesting, it remains to be seen if the multiplayer will be well balanced and popular with fans of strategy.