26 Feb

Age of Empires IV Review: Did the Legendary Series Get a Decent Continuation?

13:23 December 1, 2021 0 2432
Author: Denis Malinka
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Considering that large-budget RTS projects have practically died out over the past 10 years, the long-awaited Age of Empires 4 became a pleasant surprise for all fans of the genre. Even though Microsoft has released the second game’s Definitive Edition relatively recently, it has done an excellent job to please all virtual strategists. The new release took place on October 28, 2021 and generated quite a lot of hype among the players.

Age of Empires IV Review: Did the Legendary Series Get a Decent Continuation?

    This gaming franchise’s admirers have been waiting for a new part of the legendary RTS for almost 20 years, and in this review, we will tell you what features this game has in store. You will find out what aspects the developers revised in the fourth part of the series and whether they improved the core gameplay or not. 

    What is Age of Empires’ Key Concept? 

    Contrary to many misleading Reddit comments, this RTS has its own unique characteristics that set it apart from other recognizable titles in the genre. Yes, the project shares the core concept with numerous other strategy games. You will need to build your base, search for resources, create peaceful or military units, etc. But at the same time, Age of Empires emphasizes the gameplay’s economic aspect and settlement development much more than games like Warcraft. 

    There are multiple factors to consider if you want your empire to flourish. Besides the constant resources mining and the competent workforce distribution, you will have to discover new time periods and learn revolutionary technologies. On top of that, you will surely face enemy nations that will rely on any tricks to wipe your state off the map. 

    Since the developers slightly deviated from the general concept with Age of Empires 3, this game received much less sales than previous projects. The gaming community did not appreciate all the changes and gameplay simplifications back then, so Relic Entertainment decided to return the series to its roots in the fourth instalment of the series. Of course, the new team added some quality-of-life updates to the game; however, these innovations do not harm the traditional gameplay in any way. 

    If you are used to the fact that all factions have their own asymmetric features, you clearly will not be disappointed. Every nation has basic needs like food, wood or stone. However, when you play as the Russians who cannot build stone walls, you do not need to emphasize the stone mining. On the other hand, wood is an extremely valuable resource for this faction, as it can use improved wood fortifications. At the same time, you can choose the Mongolian nation that does not rely on defensive structures at all. And although you do not have to build walls in this case, the rapid summoning of units will also require a huge amount of stone from you. 

    Regardless of which faction you prefer, new Age of Empires 4 will allow you to vary your gameplay drastically. For example, if you can create a lot of cavalry, it does not mean that your army should include these units exclusively. The thing is that your opponents may have similar warriors with higher stats, and your army will not be able to handle them in relatively equal battles.  

    Your strategy may seem genius to you at first glance, however, there are numerous non-obvious tricks that can break it. For instance, English archers can fortify their positions with a picket fence. And such defensive skills make them less vulnerable to cavalry attacks than other range units. 

    This PC exclusive title will constantly test your strategic skills by creating unexpected situations. Today, you resist the frequent attacks of Mongolian cavalry archers, and tomorrow, you try to negotiate an armistice with China, using gunpowder artillery during sieges. In other words, this virtual universe can provide you with endless scenarios for fun, engaging and strategic gameplay. 

    Age of Empires 4 from the Campaign Perspective 

    After the Definitive Edition’s release in 2019, many players hoped that the developers would make the fourth game just as diverse in terms of the available factions. Unfortunately, instead of 35 unique nations, we got 8 in the new title. And only four of them will allow you to participate in the story campaign and dive into the historical milestones of your chosen state. 

    Almost every mission has a similar concept - you either attack an enemy or defend a significant area or point. Yes, such tasks can hardly be called creative but they are pretty standard for the RTS genre. At the same time, it is worth highlighting that the developers cover too many historical events in the campaigns that last no longer than 5 hours. So, given the fast narrative and rapidly changing eras, you are unlikely to grasp the essence of each conflict mentioned. 

    That being said, you should understand that the Age of Empires series has won millions of fans not through the storyline campaign. It's all key engaging elements are hidden in the multiplayer mode, which showcases the game to its fullest. The developers realized that the new project could attract numerous newcomers to the franchise who are not familiar with the genre yet. With this in mind, they created an effective learning mode with several helpful challenges for all ambitious strategists. 

    Another way to become an outstanding general is by training with AI enemies. While the medium difficulty level may seem pretty easy to you, the high and very high one will surely surprise you. Your opponents will act more aggressively and more deliberately at these levels. They will send scouts into your area, adapt their army to your defensive tactics and disrupt your economy with sudden attacks. 

    Considering all the factors mentioned above, even if you have never heard of this franchise before, you will be able to start your first battle with a great understanding of the gameplay’s meaningful nuances. You will learn to control your resources properly, improve vital technologies and manage your combat units to effectively confront other players. 

    Remember that the first minutes of your match can make a difference between an all-out defeat and a crushing victory. Experienced players are familiar with multiple tricky strategies that can provide them with serious gameplay advantages. And if you take decisions too slowly, your multiplayer battle will surely not end in your favour. 

    The developers have not implemented ranked matchmaking in the new game yet; however, they can use the algorithm from the Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition. Since this system has performed well in the past, Relic Entertainment has every reason to add it to the fourth instalment of the series. 

    What Hardware Do You Need to Play Age of Empires 4?

    Minimum Requirements: 

    Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system 

    • OS: Windows 10 64 bit, or Windows 11
    • Processor: Intel Core i5-6300U or AMD Ryzen 5 2400G
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Intel HD 520 or AMD Radeon RX Vega 11
    • DirectX: Version 12
    • Storage: 50 GB available space *
    • Additional Notes: CPU with AVX support required 


    Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system 

    • OS: Windows 10 64 bit, or Windows 11
    • Processor: 3.6 GHz 6-core (Intel i5) or AMD Ryzen 5 1600
    • Memory: 16 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 970 GPU or AMD Radeon RX 570 GPU with 4GB of VRAM
    • VRAM: 4GB
    • DirectX: Version 12
    • Storage: 50 GB available space *
    • Additional Notes: CPU with AVX support required 

    Age of Empires 4’s Key Pros and Cons

    Pros Cons
    Asymmetric factions Lack of available nations
    Convenient interface Weak story campaign
    Effective training modes The game could be better from a visual perspective
    Excellent additions to the traditional gameplay High price for standard and deluxe editions - $59,99 and $79,99 respectively
    You can play the game for free via Game Pass  

    Age of Empires 4 - Final Verdict 

    Even though the Microsoft’s new project has certain flaws, it has proven to be pretty successful, and for a good reason. The developers skilfully freshened up the traditional gameplay mechanics, revised the interface, the available factions and got an impressive result. So, whether you have been playing this series for the past 10 years or want to try it for the first time, the fourth game will undoubtedly provide you with a quality RTS experience.


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