Microsoft teases Age of Empires IV gameplay at X019
Two years after the initial announcement, Microsoft finally revealed a one-minute gameplay teaser for Age of Empires IV at the X019 event in London. Age of Empires IV is the first new entry in the franchise since 2005's Age of Empires III. The title is being developed by Relic, the studio behind Company of Heroes. There's no clear release date as yet and the scant, 1-minute teaser seems to indicate that we'll be waiting at least a year to actually play the game.
The trailer does answer many questions that've been up in the air since the 2017 announcement. For starters, we now know that the game will be set in the medieval period and not in the present day.
What's changed and what's stayed the same? A closer look tells us that several key gameplay systems, such as unit selection and garrisoning, are set to receive major overhauls. Take the Mongol army, for instance. The evenly-spaced unit formations make it likely that Age of Empires IV uses grouped unit selection a la Total War. And taking a quick look at the English settlement, we see soldiers posted on top of the perimeter wall. In earlier games, garrisoning was only possible with towers and castles. If missile units are able to stand on walls, it'd substantially change defensive play. Not everything's different, though.
Plenty of franchise mainstays mark their return. We spotted trebuchets dealing long-range siege damage, Age of Empires III-style farms, and a monk who looks like he's about to wololo the red team from behind the walls. But there's only so much that can be gleaned from a one minute gameplay snippet.
Important questions still remain. Which civilizations will make it into the game? With the Definitive Edition additions, Age of Empires II's roster now features 35 distinct civs. Will Age of Empires IV feature anywhere near as many? How will combat and economic management play out? And will this be a franchise-definer like Age of Empires II or a costly mistake like Age of Empires III? Does Relic have it in them to resurrect a franchise that dates back to 1997?
We'll keep you posted as Microsoft drip-feeds more information. In the meantime, you might want to check out the next best thing, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition.