Last week, Microsoft announced that Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition was getting a new expansion bringing – surprisingly – two brand-new civs to the RTS game. Called the Lords of the West DLC, the pack’s set to bring the Burgundians and Sicilians to AoE2 in late January. Previously, the strategy game’s devs told us they were “done adding civs”, so we reached out to ask what’s changed – and it turns out there could be even more to come in the future, too.
“When we launched Age of Empires II: DE, we genuinely didn’t think we’d be expanding the game further,” Bert Beeckman, co-founder and lead designer at Forgotten Empires tells us. “The Definitive Edition provides over 200 hours of just single-player content before even diving into skirmish games or multiplayer – people will never run out of things to do in Age of Empires II, right? Well, Age of Empires II and its community are a phenomenon; it has been so for the past 20 years and continues to [be] so.”
The dev tells us that the community’s reception of the DE, which was launched in November last year, “has been great”, and that, “with a growing player base, the demand for new content started to rise”.
Highlighting the bunch of free content that’s dropped into the title since launch – for example, new units (“flaming camels!”), challenge missions, and that recent Age of Empires 2 battle royale mode – Beeckman says there was still “demand for more” from players. So, the devs “went back to the drawing board and looked where [they] could add new content”.
“First, we looked at the stories we still wanted to tell,” he explains. “We noticed, for example, that the Britons, despite being the most popular civilisation in the game, did not have a dedicated story campaign. At the same time, civilisations have always been the most anticipated pieces of content for the community, so with the temptation of telling a story about the Britons, we looked at what else we could do in the region. As we looked for other stories to tell, we considered new civilisations, to tell these stories. And gradually we just got to the point where we should go all-in and create a pair of brand-new civilisations.”
Additionally, series creative designer at Microsoft Adam Isgreen tells us: “As one of the people that said we think we’re done adding civilisations, I really thought we would be at the time!” He adds that the devs’ goal, as Beeckman has explained, “is to listen to all the Age fans, and what we were hearing from them was they wanted more, so we decided we’d go for it and create two new civilisations for players in addition to the new campaigns we wanted to create”.
As for whether there’ll be even more new civs headed to Age of Empires 2 going forward isn’t fully clear just yet – however, it looks like devs are leaving the door open, with player demand being a key factor in the possibility of more. “Much like with Lords of the West, we’ll see what the community wants,” Beeckman tells us following our question about the chance of more civs. “The Age of Empires II community has been as alive as it has ever been; if there’s appetite for more, why not expand the menu?”
The Age of Empires 2 Lords of the West DLC pack launches on January 26, 2021 for $9.99 / £7.99, and is available for pre-order right now.