Age of Empires II’s HD remaster continues to flourish on Steam, with a brand new expansion - the third for the remaster, and the fourth overall - now announced. Entitled Rise of the Rajas, the expansion takes players to the far east, adding four new civilisations and four new campaigns.
I've just learned that Age of Empires II isn't on our list of the best strategy games on PC, so I'm off to have a word with someone.
The new civilisations are:
- Burmese – Assemble the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia through a legion of Battle Elephants that can demolish the most powerful of defenses. The Burmese unique unit is the Arambai, a ranged cavalry unit with a deadly but low accuracy attack.
- Khmer – Construct the largest religious monument in the world and amass an immortal army of devastating siege weapons. The Khmer unique unit is the Ballista Elephant, a mounted scorpion that can be upgraded to fire two bolts simultaneously.
- Malay – Conquer Southeast Asia with the vast island empire of Malay and upgrade your docks to harbours which can shoot arrows. The Malay unique unit is the Karambit Warrior, an extremely cheap infantry unit that can quickly overwhelm its foes.
- Vietnamese – Lead your people to independence and wage guerilla warfare with an extremely powerful arsenal of ranged units. The Vietnamese unique unit is the Rattan Archer, a heavily-armored ranged unit that is effectively impervious to enemy archer attacks.
The new campaigns - all fully voiced - are:
- Gajah Mada: On the island of Java, a new power is rising. Gajah Mada, prime minister of Majapahit, conspires to build an empire to rule the waves and islands of the Archipelago. Will he be able to balance his unquestioned loyalty to the king with his growing ambitions?
- Suryavarman I: It is the early 11th century and the Khmer Empire is in turmoil, torn apart by competing factions and surrounded by hostile neighbors. Only one prince, Suryavarman, has the courage and cunning to defeat his rivals and restore the Khmer to their former glory. Seizing the throne, however, is just the first of many tasks. Will Suryavarman muster the strength to expand his domain, overcome adversity, and create a timeless legacy as the king who attained Nirvana?
- Bayinnaung: A warrior king seeks to unite a divided land. But when he is betrayed, only his devoted servant can continue his legacy. Can a mere commoner ascend the Burmese throne and build the largest empire in Southeast Asian history?
- Lê Lợi: When a civil war plunged Dai Viet into chaos, the Ming Emperor intervened and seized control. Now, the only hope for freedom from oppression lies with one man: a minor noble named Le Loi. Will he be able to unite feuding factions, defeat the Chinese, and regain Vietnamese independence?
There are also a few bug fixes, five new random maps, five new special maps, five new real world maps, two new units (the battle elephant and the imperial skirmisher), and new environmental features, such as rainforests and shallows. This terrain is shown alongside the new civs in a series of truly luscious screenshots on Steam.
For fans of the original, it’s an oddly thrilling thing to see this 90s classic treated with the games-as-service model and getting regular fresh content. Rise of the Rajas will release in just five days’ time on December 19th. Pre-orders are not live at time of writing, but if it costs the same as previous expansions it’ll be £6.99 ($9.99 US). Check out the Steam page for more.