If a thread on Reddit is to be believed, then the development of the new AOE game was initiated by Bill Gates after an optimistic AOE fan requested him in 2016 for a new game from the series. A year later, the first announcement trailer came out.
The announcement trailer for the Age of Empires IV was revealed in August 2017, narrated in the iconic voice of Charles Dance and presented in the form of paintings depicting various clashes of civilizations in human history. The teaser promised the fans the coming of a new age. It promised the rise of empires and the fall of kingdoms. It reminded the fans how the adventures, explorations, discoveries, and conquests of civilizations have stood the test of time. It also promised fire and blood!
Fans could have been forgiven for being disappointed by the pre-alpha footage of the gameplay trailer visualizing a siege of an English city by a Mongol horde, set in the AOE II based medieval timeline. But the response to the release of the gameplay trailer has been very positive, regardless of the fact that the AOE II reboot, too, was released at the same time, at X019, as the gameplay footage reveals of Age of Empires IV. Most fans have managed to ignore the repetition of the medieval theme of the gameplay trailer and focused on the improvements from the remastered versions of the previous games.
The gameplay trailer begins with the clearing of the fog of war, showing an English fortified city, preparing for a siege by the Mongols, with patrols of units inside and outside the city. The next shot shows some cavalry units descending from a hill and charging at the city, while trebuchets bombard the city walls. In the next shot, the English army units are hurrying outside the city walls to combat the charge of the horsemen, and as the trailer comes to a close, the city walls crumble while the army is surrounded by the horsemen.
The details in the trailer are pretty revealing; units can now patrol on the walls and can be stationed there to attack enemies from the walls, as opposed to from behind the walls. Military units will have special defense mechanisms; infantry units like archers or pikemen will form stakes to hinder the charge of cavalry. The villagers will be able to carry the resources they are collecting, for example, a villager collecting wood will be physically carrying wood on the shoulder.
The game visuals presented to the fans so far are stunning. They highlight small details of the map and, unlike previous games, are much similar to real-time objects. The game is developed to be played in 4K resolution making objects more real; trees, rivers, water, and rocks will have a much more natural feel to them.
The game is being developed by Relic Studios in collaboration with Xbox Game Studios. According to the Adam Isgreen, creative director for Xbox Game Studios, the featured civilizations in the game will be non-identical and will behave uniquely. Every map in the game is different, and every civilization will need to navigate it differently. According to game director Quinn Duffy, the AI will behave according to its civilization characteristics, attacking player units in case of an aggressive civilization or defending itself within its city walls in case of a defensive civilization. The two civilizations shown in the trailer are the British and the Mongols.
In addition to the new visuals, the new game will have more varied terrains such as hills and mountains as compared to flat, less variable terrains in the earlier games. This will encourage players to test the different tactical maneuvers to outsmart their opponents, which may be more useful when dealing with more powerful units. The players will also be able to build roads in their cities. The basic key resources will remain the same; wood, food, gold, and stone.
No Micro-transactions or In-game Purchases
It was announced at X019 that the game wouldn’t include micro-transactions or in-game purchases but will explore the possibility of DLCs. According to the game directors, the DLCs will not feature new civilizations but instead explore the possibility of adding new features to the existing games.
No release date has yet been announced for the Age of Empires IV, but it is expected to be released by late 2020.
The gameplay trailer looks very appealing, especially considering it contains pre-alpha gameplay footage. The visuals are very beautiful, and by the looks of things, the gameplay will equip the players with good tactical mechanisms to overpower their opponents. Very little has been revealed as yet, but a lot will depend on what is revealed and done between now and the release of the game!