Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, despite being the second remaster the iconic RTS game has received in recent years, is still incredibly popular. So popular, in fact, that it recently received an expansion pack that added new civilisations. It’s decisively ahead of the other two Age of Empires remasters at least, and the developers are continuing to devote resources and support towards the strategy game via patches and new initiatives.
One of their new ideas involves rolling out a “public update preview” program, whereby owners of Age of Empires II DE on Steam will be allowed to access a ‘beta’ branch for testing out new tweaks or features the developers have coming down the pipe. This is inspired by feedback they have received from the community regarding keeping them in the loop on upcoming changes.
These new test branches for Age of Empires II DE won’t require a passcode to unlock, and so are publicly available to everyone who has the game installed. New branches will appear as and when they are made live.
This month’s public preview is called “pup_march – Public Update Preview – March”, and all future branches will follow a similar naming convention. The developers are currently testing out changes coming in build #45513 which mainly involves bug-fixes.
There will be an associated forum where people can leave feedback and discuss issues. When a test branch is finished, it will be removed from the beta list, and the forum will also be retired, to be replaced by a new branch and new forum.
If you’ve never accessed a beta branch before, you can do so by right-clicking on the game’s entry in your Steam library, and going to ‘properties’. A small window will pop up; go to ‘betas’, and you’ll be presented with a drop-down menu and a code check field.
The drop-down menu will contain a list of all available beta branches that are open to the public. These can often be earlier versions of the game for people who use mods. The code field is for access codes to hidden branches, like early review code.
Related: Read our Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition review
This is an experiment for the Age of Empires II team, so expect the process to evolve and change over time.