Winners have been contacted for our Twitch.tv, Twitter, and Blog giveaways. Our thanks go out to everyone who joined us for a great evening. We hope you’ll join us for more fun in the future.
Update: Our ‘NEW’ Age of Empires Online REVIEW is available here.
Age of Empires Online is still offline for a scheduled 36 hour maintenance to receive its massive Summer Update. I played AoEO when it was in beta, and had a decent experience. The game was polished and fun with its mission-based gameplay, but I felt that something was missing. The free-to-play model wasn’t really free-to-play because too much of the game required real money to unlock. I didn’t sense the traditional Age of Empires RTS gameplay, or something unique enough to justify the game going in a different direction.
I was contacted by someone on the community team for AoEO and asked to give the game another look now that the summer patch is here. Over the past few months, AoEO has received several updates in a move to make the game more polished, more like a RTS, and to prepare for the Summer Update. Graev and I decided to play quite a bit over the past week to get a feel for these changes and to prepare for the coming update. Not only did we have a good time playing with some of the already-implemented improvements, we’re both actually anxiously awaiting the update. Here are some of the improvements AoEO is getting in the update:
- End-game Alliance Wars – Choose a faction and contribute. The video below explains the Alliance Wars well. These wars function as a way for players to contribute to an alliance and win challenges, battles, quests, and ultimately earn Empire Points.
- Overhauled tech trees – Enough points to unlock a whole tree, revised choices and a focus on versatility instead of flat out bonuses.
- Completely revisited the unit tuning for each civilization.
- Champion Tech – Introduces new strategies by altering unit costs, damage, and can shift the direction of gameplay.
- Vanity Upgrades – Customize the way your units look in battle with new vanity items.
- Each civilization should feel sufficiently different and units within each should feel specialized.
Perhaps the most important change to potential new players is the shift in focus towards a more “free-to-play” model. Everything (Skirmish pack, Premium Civs, etc.) can now be purchased with Empire Points, and you can earn EP while simply playing the game. If you don’t want to invest the time, you can also purchase EP with real money and unlock them the quick way.
How much of a time investment does it take to earn enough EP to get a premium civ or buy things you want in-game? That’s the main question I want to answer for myself when I play over the coming days. I’ll also be paying close attention to the new balance changes, the overhauled tech tree, and the other improvements to form my own conclusions about whether or not Age of Empires Online is a game that RTS fans should be playing. Watch for our review coming soon.
We’re giving away Premium Civ codes and goodies!
The AoEO Community team was kind enough to give us a bunch of keys for premium civilizations and ‘goodies’ for your city. We’ll be giving these keys away TODAY at our Twitch.tv channel while we check out the new patch. To be eligible for a key you must follow our Twitch.tv channel and be present in the chat. We’re also giving them out via Twitter (Follow!) and in a blog post I’ll be putting up later today.
UPDATE: Giveaways are over.
A mixed bag of stuff tonight.
I’ve been having some great games today in DOTA 2. I played a couple solo, some with Graev, and some with 3 other guys from the community. I’m getting better — I can actually tell that my skill is increasing for the first time in a while. I remember being terrible with certain heroes from the Warcraft 3 days of DOTA… and some things never change. Valve added Naix (Lifestealer) to the game yesterday, and no matter how hard I try it feels like I’m never as good with him as others are when I face Naix.
A few lessons for anyone thinking about getting into DOTA 2.
- Have confidence because you never know what your team can accomplish if you work together without fear. Slink back or not move as one, and your opponents will surround you like sharks.
- Keep the offensive momentum.
- Don’t give up -too- early. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it’s over, but tonight reminded me why it’s important to keep trying. I was playing Earthshaker and couldn’t get any gold early on — I thought we should give up. We were facing two pairs of Chinese friends and couldn’t get early momentum. We persevered, despite my despair, and a couple of us got blink daggers + our ults, roam ganked together, and it was a solid victory.
I made a new Imperial Agent last night and he’s now approximately level 8. I have a few videos you can watch. The newest patch (or two, now) definitely increased my performance. I was getting some sluggish play a few weeks ago but each patch has made it much more tolerable. In fact, today I had zero complaints. An interesting point I want to get across is SWTOR’s replayability. I’ve played Hutta a few times now and each time I try to go about it differently. I still enjoyed the story and the quests, despite having played them several times already. I still recommend people give SWTOR a chance if they’re on the fence.
I’ve been really getting into StarCraft 2 the past week. I watched the NASL grand finals, never miss a Day9.tv daily, and watch streams on a regular basis on the second monitor while playing. Admittedly, I played SC2 about a tenth as much as I planned when it came out. Some RL crap last summer, going off to a new college, and the release of so many other games really put SC2 on the back burner. I’ve always been a 2v2 player. Something about 2v2 sits well with me. Today I decided it was the day to play some 1v1 and see where I can land in the ladder.
I queued up as Zerg (my favorite) and began my placement match. I was feeling good about my timing and where I was at for having not played a 1v1 in so, so long… when suddenly not even 8 min in I was obliterated. I think I killed 2 of the enemy’s units and ended up being destroyed. When the match ended, it announced that I was placed in the PLATINUM LEAGUE. Platinum?! How? I got into Diamond 2v2 in season 1 and I know I’m not horrible at the game but how on earth does it take a crushing defeat and give me PLATINUM league? Rolling with the punches I’ve since queued for a dozen games and lost every single one. They’re not even close. I queue 2v2′s and I fail there too. I may have been really, really good at Warcraft 3 and pretty good at SC1, but SC2 just kicks my noob pants.
The placement match thing must be broken. If I were placed in the Silver or maybe even Gold league I can see winning a few matches… maybe. But where I stand now I lose every single time. It really gets me down and makes me want to stop playing entirely until ~July 18th when season 3 starts up and ladders are reset. Maybe then I can completely throw the match by drone rushing my opponent with my starting drones or something.
So until then, I sit at having won zero games in the past 30 weeks of SC2. I think they need to make a mud league just for me.