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.