First Impressions: Age of Empires IV

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My “Age of” experience comes mostly from mythology, so I approached Age of Empires IV as a new player. It quickly taught me that I had been arrogant in choosing “Intermediate” as the difficulty level, when I stumbled upon “Easy” and then – oh, shame – on “History”, but it was my fault; I had gone straight into skirmishes and campaigns without taking advantage of the wonderful Art of War missions of Age of Empire IV. After being outright beaten by my enemies in two separate campaigns, I fled the scene and loaded straight into Art of War for a few more lessons. After ten hours of play, I’m still as invested as I started out with – and to be honest, I’m still losing as much.
The first thing I noticed was the level of detail. The world of Age of Empires IV is beautiful to watch, but I think it’s those extra details that really sell it – the way the outline of the building fills in as it is built, the gradual destruction, and the ‘resulting collapse of buildings and walls as they’ come under attack; it all serves to add another layer of immersion to an already immersive game. There are also animations for the agony of your enemies – instead of instantly collapsing, they scramble to the ground, clench their bellies, or pull away from battle before ultimately perishing. It certainly adds more realism to the game, but it also makes you feel a little more guilty when walking the path to world domination, especially if you hurt their horse as well.

If you are a new player like me, I recommend going straight to the Art of War missions after completing the tutorial. The tutorial is great for the basics, but the Art of War missions are more in-depth and train you in strategy and tactics for moves you might have otherwise missed. For example, my usual strategy once I’ve built my army is to carefully collect it, carefully divide it into factions – then panic and throw them all together in a jumbled heap on the enemy. One of the first Art of War missions, however, was a reminder of which units are best against which type of enemy, and made me rethink my approach. It also reminded me that my archers can build palisades: watching enemy cavalry smash to pieces against these palisades, with your small group of archers taking out the rest, is extremely satisfying.

Art of War missions cover tactics like placing your units – gaining the advantage of heights, for example, or using a forest to launch a stealth ambush. They then move on to using siege weapons in the later stages of the game, teaching you which units can build what and which siege weapons work best against buildings, walls, or enemies. The ram was one of my favorites, as it both protected the soldiers inside that would otherwise have been shot by enemy archers on the walls above, and served as a useful tool for breaking through city gates. enemies. The Trebuchet was another favorite – I hadn’t bothered too much with building them, as they are slow and can only shoot in certain trajectories, but seeing the impact that a single trebuchet made made me quickly change. notice. Plus, the animation for setting up and firing a trebuchet is just fantastic.

Age of Empires IV Norman Campaign

A few changes and additions to Age of Empire IV surprised me. The stone is back as a resource, which caused me a little problem when I reached the last stages of my game and looked to build siege weapons, only to find that I forgot to instruct my villagers to collect stones. This is a fun addition, as it gives you another resource to manage and adds an additional challenge as you work to protect your villagers in their separate resource gathering groups. Wall combat, meanwhile, is one of the biggest and best changes to Age of Empire IV, and its effects impact your strategy, gameplay, and the flow of the battle itself. Watching trebuchets approach enemy walls as archers attempt to take them down never gets old, and so does using siege towers to free soldiers atop the wall. One of my favorite ways to play in Age of Mythology was to wall myself, invest heavily in towers and archers to take out enemies as they attacked while keeping the main body of my army safe behind them. . In Age of Empires IV, my archers can line up walls, giving them clear fire to take down enemies as they approach.

age of empires 4 naval combat

I tried to play as much as possible of everything Age of Empires IV had to offer, but skirmishes remain my favorite way to play – picking your map and your civilization, starting from scratch and building an empire, this is simply not possible. old. I have known both the campaign of the Normans, from the Battle of Hastings to the wars of Normandy, and also the campaign of the Mongol Empire (these Mangudai archers, who can shoot while moving, are one of my favorite units – they can trick an enemy into pursuing them and then eliminating them at will.) I was two-minded about the campaign narrative; on the one hand, the live-action elements are a great addition to the story, with images of Mongolian soldiers crossing the plains, for example; but it seems like an omission for the narrator to read the story to you rather than having it act out like in Age of Mythology. Having a narrator and looking at current footage of castles and places in history is fascinating, but it takes a bit away from the immersion of the experience. This is only my opinion, however, and it’s more of a nitpick than anything else! A weird addition that also interrupted the immersion somewhat was the giant size of the arrows and other weapons, but again, that’s just a small jarring note in an otherwise enjoyable game.

gameplay aoe 4

I am determined to return to Age of Empires IV to defeat my enemies, and I can already say that I will waste a lot of hours in this game. I never tire of playing Age of Mythology, and even if it does capture not quite the same magic, I hope the same is true for Age of Empires IV – from what I’ve played so far, things are looking very upbeat.


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