Do you remember what you did in October 1997? If you were a real-time strategy player back then, chances are you played the first Age of Empires. 24 years later Relic Entertainment (Company of Heroes) and World’s Edge are working on the completion of the fourth part of the series. The real-time strategy game should be on the market in 2021 – as a renewed sign of life, the creators unceremoniously put the Fan Preview 2021 on the plan for April 10, 2021. Also in the pack: fresh gameplay material, new civilizations and lots of detailed information.
In the run-up to the event, we were able to take a detailed look at Age of Empires 4 and also spoke to the team behind it. Age of Empires 4 (buy now ) shows himself to be a conservative, downright sovereign successor. But while we might chalk this up as a disadvantage in other games, Age of Empires 4 only arouses the desire to build and fight big battles.
The staging of the single player campaign differs significantly from that of its predecessor: Relic Entertainment transforms Age of Empires 4 into a digital history lesson and for this purpose mixes real films with game graphics. The result is a presentation that is reminiscent of a documentation and is intended to contribute strongly to the atmosphere of the campaign.
Philippe Boulle, co-responsible for the implementation of the story as the narrative lead, continues this point: “We want to celebrate history, but also humanize it. The documentaries serve as a bridge to the player. A narrator provides them with the context that it needs to to understand the context. We explain the motives and abandonment that drove Wilhelm the Conqueror or Heinrich I. ” Then the game releases you onto the battlefield and lets you make your own decisions.
After the missions, in turn, you will learn what has grown out of it and how history has changed. “We want to bring history to life and we use modern narrative techniques such as drone recordings of the original locations,” explains Boulle.
Relic Entertainment incorporates golden soldiers and other units into these recordings to simulate the transition from story to game. “These scenes are kind of the stage for what the player will experience in a few moments,” adds Emma Bridle, Director of Customer Voice at World’s Edge. Incidentally, the narrator is not only used here, but is also responsible for the little things and explanations. At the beginning of the campaign, for example, he guides you through tasks such as chopping and collecting wood, before the big missions await you later.
Heroes, Battles & Conquests
Age of Empires 4 tells its campaign in chapters. The first takes you to the year 1066: Harald II, King of the Anglo-Saxons, ruled England. But a new challenger is already waiting for him in the background: Wilhelm, Duke of Normandy. While Harald II grapples with Vikings in the north, Wilhelm seizes the opportunity and attacks from the south. The result of this conflict is the legendary Battle of Hastings. The Normans win and William becomes the new King of England and is henceforth William the Conqueror. However, this resulted in a peasant revolt against the new monarch. Very exciting: this is only the first chapter. Age of Empires 4 continues to tell its story even after Wilhelm’s death.
Not surprisingly, hero units also appear in the campaign in the new Age of Empires. In the Battle of Hastings you control Duke Wilhelm, while King Harald takes to the field on the other side. Philippe Boulle emphasized again during the presentation that these troops were exclusive to the campaign and that they wanted to create identifying figures for the player.
The first gameplay scenes of the Normans campaign show, on the one hand, huge armies armed with spears, swords and shields, but also on horseback. The differences in altitude in the terrain and the light fog that wafts over the battlefield are particularly noticeable here. Other tactical tricks such as hiding in the woods are new in Age of Empires 4 and promise more dynamism, especially in multiplayer mode.
A clear escalation of the warfare can be seen in the siege scenes. When storming the fortress of the city of Bayeux in northern France, we see heavy walls and defensive towers. It takes ramming to conquer the city. For those you need on the one hand a blacksmith, on the other hand an upgrade for the production of these aids. And apparently it is the job of the infantry to assemble these war implements in battle.
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