The grand return of one of the most famous PC strategy games gets bigger very soon, as Age of Empires 4 developer Relic Entertainment reveals its first expansion for the 2021 RTS. Age of Empires 4 DLC The Sultans Ascend is set to arrive in mid-November, and it will bring two of the top-requested civilizations into the fold, along with two biomes, ten maps, four variant civs, an all-new campaign, and a wealth of additional unlockable content. Let’s take a look.
Our Age of Empires 4 review heralds Relic Entertainment’s latest as the “return of the king,” a remarkably traditionalist offering that nonetheless brings a well-rounded and polished package that incorporates just about everything you’d expect from the best strategy games. Now, the first Age of Empires 4 expansion The Sultans Ascend is nearly ready to add a big helping of additional stuff to dig into.
Top of the list is the two new civilizations, which Relic says are among the most requested by players. First is the Byzantines, who bring those iconic Roman aqueducts into play, along with a new resource, olive oil. They love to hire mercenaries from other civilizations into their empire and make use of deadly Greek Fire in combat. They get access to the unique Mangonel Emplacement for their defensive structures, offering excellent defense against tightly packed enemy forces, and also benefit from additional stone whenever you construct a building.
The second new civ is the Japanese. With their powerhouse units including the Samurai, Shinobi, Bnnermen, and the Onna-Musha, they’re certainly a force to be reckoned with. They also gain access to several dual-purpose buildings and powerful Daimyo upgrades for the town center, while upon reaching the Imperial age they can build unique Castles boasting deadly rocket emplacements. The Japanese also get a fantastic economic bonus: when gathering either gold or stone, they’ll also get 20% of the other resource as an additional benefit – even if you only have mining access to just one of them.
Alongside this pair are four ‘variant civilizations,’ adding new ways to adapt existing civs. The Ayyubids put a more camel-centric spin on the Abbasid Dynasty. Jeanne d’Arc joins the French as a powerful hero unit, trading her abilities in exchange for some of France’s usual civ bonuses. The Holy Roman Empire becomes The Order of the Dragon – a force with elite, but more expensive, ‘gilded’ units. And Zhu Xi’s Legacy alters China’s Dynasty bonuses and landmarks for a focus on long-term economic efficiency over rapid expansion.
The Sultans Ascend also includes ten new map types to change up your conflicts, along with two new biomes. The gorgeous Japanese Spring biome offers you the chance to build among stunning forests filled with the rich pink hues of blooming cherry blossom trees. Conversely, the Savanna brings the grassy plains and Acacia trees of Africa to the table.
Of course, there’s also the eponymous new single-player campaign. In The Sultans Ascend, you’ll be at the helm of the Muslim resistance in the Middle East during the European Crusades, following the tale of its historic leaders in the fight against the Holy Templars, Hospitallers, Teutons, and the Mongols. To wrap things up, Relic promises a wealth of new achievements and masteries, primarily focused on the newcomers of the Byzantines and Japanese.
Age of Empires 4 The Sultans Ascend releases Tuesday, November 14 on Steam and the Xbox store. It’s priced at $14.99 / £12.49, although subscribers to Microsoft’s PC Game Pass service (which also lets you play the base game as part of its included library) get a 10% discount on the Xbox storefront.
If you love the thrill of managing your armies in the heat of the moment, you can’t beat the best RTS games. We’ve also got the lowdown on all the essential Age of Empires 4 hotkeys and keyboard shortcuts to stay one step ahead of the competition.