Overnight, Microsoft’s Age of Empires Fan Preview event dropped a whole lot of new information and footage—mostly focused on the upcoming Age of Empires IV, as you’d expect, but with a few looks at new updates for the Definitive Editions of Age of Empires II and III, too.
An in-depth look at Age of Empires IV
Much of the show focused on an in-depth look at Age of Empires IV. We got a look at the new Delhi Sultunate civilization with its unique War Elephant and Sultunate Scholar units; it’s similar-ish to the Indian civilization from Age of Empires III, but based on an earlier period of Indian history. The Chinese civilization also returns for IV; coupled with the English and Mongols revealed previously, we now know four of the eight civs that will be part of the game at launch.
The preview also showed off the Norman Campaign, and with it, the documentary-style approach Microsoft is taking with campaigns in Age of Empires IV. The Norman Campaign is the first of four campaigns planned for the game, and tells the story of William the Conqueror and his descendants as they fight for control of the English throne.
A deep dive into Age of Empires IV gameplay offered a look at the four ages players will work through this time around: Medieval, Feudal, Castle, and Imperial. The preview also introduced the new stealth forest mechanic, letting players hide units and set up ambushes from forested areas where visibility is severely limited, as well as the Mongol civilization’s unique ability to pack up and move its villages—in keeping with nomadic tradition.
Finally, there was a behind the scenes look at Age of Empires IV developer Relic Entertainment, and a teaser for the naval combat that will feature in the new game.
New content for Age of Empires Definitive Editions
Not everything was Age of Empires IV-focused, though. Microsoft also used the Fan Preview to show off some new additions on the way for the Definitive Editions of both Age of Empires II and Age of Empires III, including some new civilizations and a whole new expansion.
Dawn of the Dukes is a new expansion coming to Age of Empires II Definitive Edition this northern summer / southern winter. It’s focus is on Eastern Europe, and though details are sparse at this stage, the reveal mentioned new campaigns “and much more”. Separate to this expansion, Age of Empires II will also get Co-op Historical Battles later this year.
New content for Age of Empires III Definitive Edition is much closer: the first major update for the game arrives on April 13, bringing with it the new United States civilization. The new civ will be free for a limited time for those who complete the “50 State Challenge”—a series of daily challenges, with up to three per day—and will also be available to buy for USD $4.99. Microsoft also teased another update planned for later this year, featuring African civilizations.
Between Age of Empires IV and the continued support for the Definitive Editions, it’s an exciting time to be an Age of Empires fan, that’s for sure. Age of Empires IV comes out later this year; Age of Empires II Definitive Edition and Age of Empires III Definitive Edition are available now on Steam, Windows Store, and Xbox Game Pass for PC.