Age of Empires IV Review – The Once And Possibly Future King

Age of Empires IV allows players to discover eight distinct civilizations in real-time multiplayer strategy. Multiplayer encounters are the best way to enjoy the campaign, which spans many civilizations. If multiplayer isn’t your thing, you do miss out on a hefty chunk of the game, but there are always skirmishes to take on A.I. at a comfortable difficulty level if you don’t feel like taking on other players.

Age of Empires IV has a very safe execution. Many of the systems, mechanics and features are reminiscent of Age of Empires II. While the divisive Age of Empires III hit 16 years ago, it’s a bit of a dulling anesthetic seeing IV play things so close to Age of Empires II.

There’s a meaty campaign in which the first segment functions as an extensive tutorial that can teach even an RTS neophyte to harvest resources, form control groups, and learn how to break down walled fortifications. The campaign offers are heavily rooted within classical RTS. They mostly consist of building up resources and forces, and then taking out your adversaries. But there are also some great surprises. The campaign features a lot of interesting stuff beyond the usual. Many historical figures are involved in leading troops with special abilities that add flair and zest to the mundane.

However, the most enjoyable aspect of the campaigns wasn’t the gameplay. Instead, I had a blast nerding out during History-channel-style videos and segments between missions. I haven’t had a Magna Carta refresher like this since high school. The videos are sometimes filmed in an unusual way, where historical battles and histories are superimposed over modern settings. It works regardless of the circumstances. I was motivated to finish each war that involved William the Conqueror and King John to uncover the next layer in edutainment. The video vignettes and bonus history content keep things interesting among many traditional “resource up and go” missions.


You can find a lot of different gameplay options within each civilization. You feel the need to be aggressive? Choose the Mongols to expand your territory and put pressure on your enemy. Do you want to destroy your enemy from a long distance? Add some English longbowmen to your ranks. If nothing else will work, grab the Delhi Sultanate. This allows you to smash through any fortifications. You can explore other elements, such as a culture that doesn’t require any research resources. This provides a lot of depth.. There’s a lot to learn and experiment with each faction’s unique buildings, units, and game mechanics, and it’s fun to try out different build orders and routes to victory.

Even if you don’t want to play against other players in multiplayer, you can team up with them and take on co-op vs. AI encounters. Pretty much any game you play will give you experience points, which you can use to unlock cosmetics like portraits, coats of arms, or town monuments. These don’t force you to play any way you don’t want to but offer those that choose to master a faction some visual flair to take into their matches.

Real-time strategy is still relevant thanks to a handful of big games every once in awhile. While Age of Empires IV lacks any ambition to even gently jostle the standards set by Age of Empires II decades earlier, it’s a good way to play a classic-feeling RTS today with some slick polish and panache.

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