Age of Empires 4 fans were treated to their first extended look at gameplay from the upcoming strategy game, with the videos shared during today's Fan Preview event revealing a title that's well aware of its past but also unafraid to change some things.
The Age of Empires 4' gameplay footage covered all four in-game ages, alternating between a match that saw the English facing the Delhi Sultanate and another in which the Chinese battled the Mongols. Immediately, the modern visuals stand out, and not just because of the cinematic introduction in which a lone rider crosses a sprawling, beautiful map with mountains, forests, grasslands, and rivers.
Age of Empires 4 Gameplay and Ages
Each civilization's units and buildings are easy to distinguish between thanks to detailed models that stay true to the uniforms, weapons, and architecture of their respective cultures. Art Director Zach Schläppi confirmed in a Q&A session, which we attended, that building visuals also change as players progress through ages.
There's a lot that feels instantly recognizable in the first Age of Empires IV gameplay footage. Starting with the Dark Ages, berry bushes return, as do single buildings placed down next to resources to make gathering faster. Scouts can round up sheep as they explore the map, bringing them back to base for an extra food source.
The Castle Age enables you to build impressive stone walls to guard your base. The buildings that give the age its name return, ready to fire arrows down upon attackers. But while there's a lot that's familiar, there's quite a bit that's new. Siege Towers unload troops directly on walls rather than magically teleporting them into the enemy's base. Forests act as hiding spots and your soldiers will whisper while in them, which is a neat little touch as far as immersion goes.
Where the Delhi Sultanate fields powerful War Elephants, the Chinese bring rocket batteries and gunpowder to the field. England will feel quite similar to playing the Britons in Age of Empires 2, according to the developers, while Mongols have access to a sheep pen for an additional source of food. More importantly, they can also can pack up their base and relocate to a different spot on the map.
At the climax of the footage, we saw a priest-type unit able to convert an entire mass of enemies with one Wololo by using a relic. In closing, a set of ships – possibly Japanese – were also teased.
Age of Empires 4 Unit Cap
This stems from the developers' desire to introduce asymmetrical factions that have their own distinct mechanics and unique units. But while they will all play differently, the asymmetry isn't total, as there will still be a pool of shared core units.
In terms of the scale, Game Director Quinn Duffy said that when development started, the target was for 4v4 matches with 200 units for each player, leading up to a total of 1600 units taking to the field with slaughter in mind.
Another interesting detail, although perhaps having more to do with immersion, was confirmed by Narrative Lead Philippe Boulle, who revealed that each civilization has its own musical theme.
In addition, their language also evolves as they move through the four ages so, in England's case, you'll hear Old English morphing into Middle English.
Today's Fan Preview event also shed light on Age of Empires 4's first single player AoE 2 and .and the historical period it's set in, while also revealing what's next for the Definitive Editions of
Age of Empires 4 is expected to launch at some point in Fall 2021.
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