Title: Age of Empires: Definitive Edition
Developer: Forgotten Empires
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Genre: Real-time strategy (RTS)
Available For: PC
Official Site: https://www.ageofempires.com/games/aoe/
Release Date: February 20th, 2018
Where to Buy It: Microsoft Store
My impressions on the Age of Empires: Definitive Edition closed multiplayer beta didn’t cover all of what makes this game such an excellent RTS title to encounter. Even after the 20+ years since the original title’s release, the Definitive Edition is a beautiful rendition of a classic that has influenced so many others in the process. The remastered version uses the recipe that made the original so successful, to the point where you may ask yourself why Microsoft didn’t build onto the game to give its fans a wider scope when playing.
Like the original, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition has a multiplayer mode, one where you can challenge other RTS fanatics online for glory and fame. Unfortunately, the multiplayer mode still suffers from the same issues that the beta and the original struggled to overcome: problems with lag, communication between players, and the overall comparison to single player. It was cool to play against others from around the world, but I could never stay for long… The remastered campaign continued to beckon me forth to battle.
In the original Age of Empires, you were only given the Egyption, Greek, Babylonian, and Yamato civilizations to choose from when doing the campaign mode, but in Age of Empires: Definitive Edition you’re given all the available campaigns, specifically those from the expansion, The Rise of Rome. All of the campaigns are organized in chronological order and ready for you to tackle. That’s the real pearl hiding inside the clam. Despite it being recycled material, trying to play the campaigns of every nation is like attempting to complete every quest in Skyrim: it ain’t gonna happen, bud, so give it up. Okay, I may have exaggerated a little bit. With Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, there’s only a certain amount of quests you can play because of the limited number of nations to choose from. That’s not technically a bad thing. The title presents you with an end point, while allowing you the opportunity to take your time elsewhere when finished.
If you aren’t a fan of battling it out online, then you can immerse yourself in a variety of custom matches against some tough computers. It may not be the same as having an objective and completing it, as you would do through the campaigns, but achieving victory against a bot on the hardest difficulty will be just as satisfying. I guarantee you that. There’s also the “create your own scenario” mode, which, even after 20 years, is still an excellent way to boost your creativity. It showed me that, despite being a remastered game, some recycled material will never go out of date. Allowing you the chance to build upon what you’ve learned from the campaign mode–historically and strategically speaking–lets you dictate the course of history in your own customized fashion.
In all that makes Age of Empires: Definitive Edition a game worth purchasing (especially since it’s only $19.99), there’s still the problem with variety. There’s nothing actually new about the game besides the updated graphics, soundtrack, and improved zoom levels, making this title perfect for anyone looking to play the original without having to endure the struggle of finding a working CD-ROM. Yet, the lack of new material for you to grind your way through creates a void of sorts. Sure, it’s fun to play and look at when comparing it to the original, but Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, doesn’t do anything to add to your overall experience. A new expansion based on one of the current or a newly added civilization(s) would’ve helped remedy this problem.
I don’t blame Microsoft for keeping it simple, though. I think that they wanted to preserve the greatness of the original by simply generating a better looking game without introducing any new ideas. With Age of Empires IV being released in the near future, I understand this move. The next installment will most likely capture the histories of a variety of different civilizations, and, in the process, overcome the problems of diversity that the Definitive Edition struggles with. So, why would Microsoft force new material into a game that doesn’t really need it?
Verdict: Age of Empires: Definitive Edition boasts updated graphics, a remastered soundtrack, and improved zoom levels, while maintaining the classic feel that the original brought players all those years ago. Online multiplayer doesn’t feel as sophisticated as it should; it’s as if Microsoft and Forgotten Empires took what they had from the original and attempted to translate it into the Definitive Edition without really fixing what was wrong with it in the first place. Players may also feel underwhelmed due to the lack of new material but shouldn’t spend too many nights awake because of it: Age of Empires IV will be out sooner rather than later, after all.
- Wonderful update of a RTS classic
- Having the campaigns from expansions all in one place
- New graphics, soundtrack, zoom levels help in overall immersion
- Historically engaging
- No new material
- Multiplayer mode still has issues