It sounds like civilisations in Age of Empires 4 will be both new and familiar, with some behaving as series veterans would expect in terms of their tech trees and unique bonuses, while others will take a very different approach. That’s according to Age of Empires creative director Adam Isgreen, who spoke to PCGamesN at X019 about the upcoming game.
“We’ve got a host of civilisations in the game, and one of the things that’s different about Age 4 than previous Age games is […] a lot of the civs were similar – they had unique units and differences in tech – but they were all kind of similar. That’s not the case in Age 4 anymore,” Isgreen explains.
In previous Age games, all civs shared common tech, building, and unit trees, but no one civ could access every node on those trees – the Britons in Age 2 got every archery unit, but their cavalry tree stopped just short of the top tier, for instance. Each civ also got a unique unit and a set of bonuses (e.g. the Goths got a higher population cap and cheaper infantry), and that would be the extent of their differences. It was enough to make for some really diverse strategies in multiplayer, but – as Isgreen says – “they were all kind of similar.”
It sounds like Age 4 is mixing this familiar approach to civ design with something a little more radical. Isgreen elaborated with reference to the two civs confirmed in the Age 4 gameplay trailer (below) – the English and the Mongols.
“Intentionally, the English play very much like what you might experience from the Britons in Age 2,” Isgreen says. “There are differences, obviously, because we’ve changed the gameplay somewhat, but it’s still pretty much like ‘oh, ok, this feels familiar.’ The Mongols do not play anything like the English.
“We have this wide spectrum of civilisations that go from very understandable if you’ve played a previous Age game, to ‘you need to learn a lot to really play these ones well,'” he adds, explaining that while there are rules of RTS games and the Age series that haven’t been changed, the studio is exploring new areas with the game to really make the civilisations “stand on their own.”
Isgreen also adds that, in a wider sense, there will be some pretty big surprises in store for players. “There are several big things that we have done that people have never experienced before in an Age game or in an RTS, and so I’m very excited.”
Sadly, he couldn’t tell us too much more about this just yet, but it looks like Age of Empires 4 is trying to give series veterans more of what they like while also throwing out a few curveballs at the same time. If you’re excited to hear more, keep checking back as we’ll be posting our full Age of Empires 4 X019 interview very soon.