Age of Empires is all set to come back stronger than ever before in the next few years, with the release of Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, and Age of Empires 4 currently in development.
There are some however, who would argue the series can’t “come back”, since it never actually went away in the first place. Ask most people who actually own a high-end gaming PC and they’ll probably tell you that even in 2019, the original Age of Empires will still get more of a look-in than the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in 4K at 120fps.
There’s something inherently attractive and additive about the games, in the same way that the original Tetris still holds a certain mysterious charm.
Age of Empires Creative Director Adam Isgreen certainly agrees, and has the numbers to back it up. He revealed to PCGamesN that the franchise is still being played by over one million people a month, and the “numbers keep going up.”
Isgreen reckons that a big part of Age of Empires’ longevity as a real-time strategy game is down to more than just nostalgia. The developer argues that there’s a demand for games that require the player to do a little bit more thinking.
It can’t just be nostalgia, right? There are new people coming into the franchise and playing it, and I think the interesting thing is that for a lot of RTS games, I think there is a pent-up demand – and the numbers seem to back this – for more ‘thinking games,’ the games that require you to plan and strategise and think.
Age of Empires has been around for 20 years now, and has seen various spinoffs and sequels. Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition is due for release this Autumn, while the remaster of AoE 3 has also been announced, but is yet to receive a release window.
Both remasters are being worked on by an internal team at Microsoft dedicated to Age of Empires, with help from indie studio Forgotten Empires, who previously worked on a few AoE remasters – including 2014’s Age of Mythology: Extended Edition.
Speaking of Age of Mythology, Isgreen recently revealed that the team hasn’t forgotten about the fantastical spinoff, and said that he’ll “figure out” what to do with it after the current batch of Age games are finished and out in the wild.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.