Age of Empires Online

Age of Empires is a game that had a large part in shaping the real time strategy genre.  I can remember playing one, two, three, and their expansions; many of which I played while still a kid.  AoE is actually one of the only games that I could convince my Mom to try.  Why?  She enjoys history and for some reason became attached to the idea of creating an empire and sieging others.  It was rather easy for her to pick up and enjoy and was very fulfilling since it allowed you to progress from practically nothing to this full blown empire.

Microsoft announced Age of Empires Online today.  It’s going to be a “persistent” RTS game where your empire continues to grow while you’re offline.  Just how much is persistent? No clue — probably just that it doesn’t disappear when you log out. I have this idea floating around in my head of an actual RTS game that allows you to travel with your troops and siege other players like you would in a real RTS game — just imagine the world being enormous.  Clearly it’s not going to be that, but there’s still a lot that they can do with it even if it’s just you in your own little world but capable of taking armies and troops that you’ve trained into battle.

AoEO is going to have familiar AoE gameplay, resource management, the ability to go on quests with friends, battle friends, and team up with others to battle.  The game’s art style and direction have changed.  It’s more cartoony now, but I don’t see anything wrong with it.  Stylized graphics age well and they play the feel of the game into a much less serious nature.  I’m getting a Battlefield Heroes vibe which is both good and bad (BF:Heroes was great before they messed up the microtransactions).

It’s not my ideal direction for the Age of Empire franchise.  I would have loved to see a fully realized RTS game.  The trailer shows gameplay that I definitely want to play though.  So far this is something I’m looking forward to, with the only trepidation being mention of social gaming and free-to-play experiences being their motivation to go this direction with the franchise.  At least they’re sticking solely to PC on this one as a digital download.

Oh, and my Mom thinks the idea of Age of Empires Online “sounds neat”.

  • Wow what a surprise, another MMO gone squishy, cuddly and cute. I hope all you fan-girls enjoy it.

  • This is an interesting find, Keen. Of all the strategy titles, AoE series was by far my favorite. Ive wondered if they would ever release something again. I am not sure how having a persistent world would work for me. What I loved about AoE was that you can sit down and play a match and then it was done, win or loss. I am not really excited about having the same town every time I log in. Cool that they are doing something with the IP though.

  • I can’t imagine how this will work as a “persistent world”. You can build all the buildings and upgrades within 10 minutes in the old version, and just about any RTS really. Making it longer to build and upgrade would…well, make it longer, but not really any more fun. Signed up for the beta, looks interesting at least.

  • Oh, and the graphics look a lot like Age Of Mythology, if anybody played that except for me. First game with the branching god/general powers, I do believe.

  • Whenever our regular group starts talking about other games to play, Age of Kings comes up.

    I will be interested to see what the dynamics of this game will end up being, but since I think Microsoft canned most of the Ensemble Studios team (and since I haven’t really liked any of their games since Age of Kings in any case) you can tag me as “lukewarm” on the idea until I see more details.

  • @Tim: I think the only thing persistent means in this case is that whatever you log in and do will be there when you get back and that you’ll continue to build armies and upgrade units, go on quests, research tech, that kind of stuff.

  • I’m not clear from the trailer whether they imply that the persistence will be like you surmise, Keen, or if it will work similar to the old browser-based strategy games where you’d log in every 8 hours to upgrade your level 2 field to level 3. It must be like you’ve described it – based on how they portray the combat, I can’t imagine that you’d log in to find that you’d been attacked and lost 80% of your army…

    I can deal with the graphics, I suppose, they seem competent enough, if sort of irritating. On the other hand, Games for Windows live pretty much sinks this one for me. What works fairly well on the 360 just feels like a train wreck on the PC, especially next to services like Steam. Add to that quests and leveling (in my RTS? No thanks), and I’m just sort of meh on this one.

    I’m open to them surprising me, though. I get this niggling impression it might actually wind up turning out better than I expect.

  • I loved the old Age of Empires. I played it all the time. I’ve just registered here to partake in the beta because it looked like it could be interesting.

  • It’ll play alot like “lord of ultima”. If you’ve ever seen games like that, calling it an MMO is a stretch. Upgrading buildings will take real-time days, 8 hours to finish an attack which you can check in on during a lunch break, stuff like that.

  • @iLKRehp: It looked pretty instant to me. I’m betting that it’s just about creating a village and upgrading things and instantly going out to do battle.

  • I was pleasantly surprised by this. When I saw the announcement, I assumed it was going to be yet another evony clone with an age of empires skin (So…Evony with a different name), but an actual real time strategy game: Awesome.

  • Yeah maybe this will be Evony done right & without the shady banner ads. I loved the first two Age of Empires games but thought the third one was a bit disappointing.

  • Is it me or was that the worst choice for a commentator ever. He sounds like the announcer for Disney movies that suck and go straight to dvd.

  • The graphics were hard enough to handle, but games for windows certainly makes for no question that I won’t be playing this.

  • yeah… the Games For Windows Live (GFWL) part is the only thing i don’t like… i’m not a big fan of blizz with their either… but at least i know that blizz has some experience in that area and will do things (mostly) right…. i don’t have that same faith in microsoft.

  • Honestly it’s like they took all the cliche features from a MMO and just stapled them on their game. It seems like a good idea on paper but seeing the video has done nothing to impress me.

  • AoE2-The Conquerors is hands down my alltime favorite RTS. I have so many fun memories of playing 2-6 players games with friends.

    Age of Mythology felt like a step down, but had some neat stuff, and then AoE3 was just completely terrible.

    I know there’s really no market for this, but I would love it so much if they would just redo AoE2 with the same exact graphics, but increase the resolutions for modern monitor sizes as a webgame or something.