“Long time, no siege.”
November 14, 2019 11:00 AM   Subscribe

The best Age of Empires now has a fitting remaster: Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition [PC Gamer] “Age of Empires 2 is being wheeled out again, not quite new, but definitely improved. It wears its two decades well, but the years are still there, hidden beneath polish and new art and myriad tweaks. The Definitive Edition wavers between remaster and remake, updating nearly everything, from the art to the AI, as well as adding a trio of new campaigns and four more civilisations, but reverence for the original means that the changes, though broad and welcome, are somewhat restrained. Much of that reverence is justified, and what made Age of Empires 2 stand out at a time when there was no dearth of excellent real-time strategy games holds it in good stead 20 years on.” [YouTube][Gameplay Trailer]

• What Made Age Of Empires Great [Kotaku]
“Age of Empires and Age of Empires II were great because they played at a snail’s pace in comparison to modern RTS games. The games begin with you expanding a civilian populace, then you build a military force to protect them, expand the civilian populace to support the military, and gradually build your empire over the course of a match. Starcraft 2 and Dawn of War 3 missions might last you 30 minutes. Some Age of Empires skirmishes can last for hours, because the series places more control in your hands by giving you more options, which results in a slower, more considered play style. [...] Part of Age of Empire’s tremendous success is because, instead of appealing to the hardcore strategy players, chasing League of Legends’ extremely competitive player base, and looking for a home on streaming services, it appeals to groups other than average hardcore gamers. Reaching different types of gamers is good strategy.”
• Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition looks great, but still has to compete against itself [Eurogamer]
“"If you look at the old AI, it cheated" Beeckman chuckled. "It totally cheated. It doesn't cheat anymore." "If you put one AI, non-cheating, of the Definitive Edition version against seven of the original that do cheat, it just wipes the floor with them. No problem. Every time. So that's the kind of level we were aiming for here... the new AI is so good that you can watch replays of it to actually learn how to play the game, because it plays the game correctly now... it tries to follow the competitive meta - on the highest [difficulty] level - because we have 20 years of pro players doing tournaments and we tried to get that in the AI as well." You can also talk to the new AI in a more sophisticated way. I didn't see this in action but the example I was given was how, in the past, interactions were limited to things like "do you have any spare Gold you could give me?" whereas now you could ask an AI ally "hey, can you attack, with Knights, that specific player at that time", and they'll go ahead and do it.”
• An Unsolved Game, ‘Age of Empires II’ Still Breeds Obsession 18 20 Years Later [Vice Gaming]
“The endless diversity of having dozens of factions and so many variant strategies also makes this game a joy to watch; you just don't see as many of the same strategy play out over and over again. Each civilization has strategies that it wants to go for—the Britons have their archers, the Franks their knights, the Goths their massed waves of infantry. But all of those strategies have potential weaknesses, counterplay; AoE2 is often a game of trying to push your opponent off their preferred strategy, of improvising around a specific situation. Games become less about pure mechanical execution of established strategies and more about creativity. [...] Modern design might balk at how little of a ramp there is between casual AoE 2 and competitive play. There's no "ladder" button, nor does the campaign much resemble what you'll be doing in skirmish play. But the game's many complications, its instability, works to turn casual interest into obsession.”
posted by Fizz (29 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
oh man AoE2 baby!!!

Wonder if I can still tear up the countrysides with a fast moving squad of trebs and sammies. I think I actually used to be ranked in AoE2 at one point in time.

man it's been AGES.
posted by some loser at 11:11 AM on November 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

Darn it... PC only. [On edit - How about Switch?]
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:12 AM on November 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

posted by odinsdream at 11:18 AM on November 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

There's an 'Enhanced Graphics Pack'. It's 26.8 GB. Just throwing that out there.

I'm currently in the Feudal Age and I've not planned properly for my civilization. My people are always hungry. I fear this shall ruin me.
posted by Fizz at 11:36 AM on November 14, 2019

Also, we're probably going to get some game-play footage of Age of Empires IV later today. XO2019 is happening and it goes live at 3 p.m. EST. Up until now there's just been an announcement of AOEIV. Will be interesting to see how they've modernized their look for current generation of gaming.
posted by Fizz at 11:40 AM on November 14, 2019

Because this is the only game I've worked on that anyone has ever heard of, I can offer that I was one of the QA folks at Microsoft for the original AoE2.
posted by kokaku at 11:46 AM on November 14, 2019 [17 favorites]

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:57 AM on November 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm terrible at these games but I always have fun with them. CIV V is one of the few games of this style that clicked in my brain. CIV VI hasn't clicked just yet, but again, I'm always smiling when I play these games. So it doesn't even matter that I'm constantly dying.
posted by Fizz at 12:02 PM on November 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

And here we go:

Age of Empires 4 trailer shows Relic’s work on updating a classic [Polygon][YouTube][Game Trailer]
“Age of Empires 4 continues this tradition, but today’s trailer shows how much detail Relic is aiming for, both in terms of static items like buildings, and via the number of combat units on screen at any one time. We’ll have more on Age of Empires 4 in the months ahead. ”
posted by Fizz at 1:43 PM on November 14, 2019

It looks beautiful.
posted by Fizz at 1:44 PM on November 14, 2019

I had Age of Empires for the Pocket PC (Remember those?!) in 2004. The enemy AI would just make tons of workers and have no population left over for other units, completely destroying any challenge in the game.

It was still a ton of fun. Age of Empires is a fantastic game, and AoE 2 even moreso.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:25 PM on November 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

The best Age of Empires now has a fitting remaster
Huh, I guess it is 14 years old now. Maybe it is time to dust it off and --
Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition
--Oh, we're being wrong today.
posted by miguelcervantes at 2:47 PM on November 14, 2019

:::enters code, makes 2 dozen priests, converts your entire civilization:::
posted by sara is disenchanted at 3:50 PM on November 14, 2019 [4 favorites]

Aaaand that theme song is stuck in my head. Brainwashed at a young age, I was.
posted by Wretch729 at 4:00 PM on November 14, 2019

This is SO relevant to my interests.

I’m disappointed it’s only on a PC, but them’s the breaks, I guess.

posted by darkstar at 8:15 PM on November 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Never any good at RTS games like this or SM's Antietam. Always grabbed the wrong dudes and sent them into the weeds. SC2 at least had handy keystrokes I learned to use, but. So many things to keep track of at the same time!!!
posted by Windopaene at 8:45 PM on November 14, 2019

I guess I should assume that online play isn't compatible with the remaster that came out in 2013. Otherwise I'd definitely challenge someone to a match, and rapidly lose, because as a teenager I was more interested in building densely populated cities than waging war.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:50 PM on November 14, 2019

I'm still frustrated by the missed opportunity that was Age of Empires III. Step up in terms of graphics and engine, but completely abandoned the historical storytelling and real life figures that made AOEII so interesting to me as a kid. Could have been an interesting, even potentially boundary pushing take on the colonisation of the Americans, and instead turned it into some sub-Assassin's Creed, fountain of life bullshit.
posted by usr2047 at 10:55 PM on November 14, 2019

Still play the enhanced HD edition with a few friends and my girlfriend, its a really good, cheap, low spec game for playing while you have a chat and a catch up with friends who now live all over the country. Tunnelling through the black forest with mangonels and into enemy bases was great fun.

I used to make custom maps with choke points, set us up on one side with infinite resources and battle crazy difficulty enemies until we were either crushed or broke through, or got bored and cheated in a bunch of cobras.
posted by Chaffinch at 12:40 AM on November 15, 2019

how do you turn this on
posted by lesser weasel at 1:00 AM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


The fact that you didn't find a way to inject some custom CSS to turn the site background red after that is deeply disappointing to me.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:30 AM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I first encountered this game at a place where I dogsat and was welcome to use the computer. So one time when the person came back, I told her how much fun I had had playing Age of Empires (which her son had on the computer), and she thought I said "Ancient Vampires".

tl;dr now I forever after must call it Ancient Vampires.

Also: I was so sad when my copy of AoEII stopped working on my newer Mac, until I discovered that some genius had come up with a way to allow a Mac user to log in to Steam as if they are a Windows user. I instantly bought AoEII on Steam, and have been replaying it ever since.

Vikings 4eva! *toooooooot*
posted by theatro at 6:15 AM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

I use the hard drive leave behind of AoE for the hour long random scenario games at low stress settings as a relaxing evening a couple of times a month at least, even now.
posted by Mrs Potato at 7:07 AM on November 15, 2019

In a sense Starcraft 2 ruined RTS. It was so good there was no room for competitors. And there were so many just FUN games. I really fondly remember Total Annihilation and Dark Reign and "Z" all back in my days of professional game reviewing.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:58 AM on November 15, 2019

Ah, I do look forward to this.

I was more of a Rise of Nations player. Lately, Civ V for light fun.
posted by doctornemo at 9:15 AM on November 15, 2019

Okay, this is a dumb question, but can someone explain the difference between AoE:Definitive and AoEII:Definitive? I used to play the very first AoE a million years ago (mostly single player because my friends got bored with how easy it was to defeat me), and when looking at descriptions on Steam last night I couldn't tell.

Is it just different empires/cultures, or is the gameplay significantly different, or what?
posted by queensissy at 11:34 AM on November 15, 2019

Age of Empires: Definitive Edition was released in 2018 and celebrates the 20th anniversary of the original Age of Empires game. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition was released Thursday and celebrates the 20th anniversary of the sequel to the original game.
Both games had very similar gameplay, and the graphics have been updated in similar ways. AoE covered the stone age through the classical period, AoE 2 covers (vaguely) from the 1200s to about 1600, or Dark Age to the Imperial Age as the game calls it.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:08 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thank you, Wretch729!
posted by queensissy at 11:19 AM on November 16, 2019

I was planning to resist temptation, but this thread put me over the edge.

First game, figured I'd go against one of the easier AIs while I'm relearning* and figuring out hotkeys. Rolled Aztecs on a random civilization. Everything was going well, I had hit Castle Age ahead of my opponent and after a short housing delay was about to start growing and sending eagle warriors to raid; then, boom--crash to desktop. Kind of an anticlimactic start, I must say.

(I'll get you next time, Standard AI)

*as if I had actually learned to play well at the age of 12 back in the day
posted by egregious theorem at 5:44 PM on November 16, 2019

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