They Killed Joan of Arc, Age of Empires IV Review

Sachses in AOE IV

Age of Empires is an important game series. In the 90s, it, along with Command and Conquer and WarCraft, defined the development of the RTS genre.

“Age of Empires” became my gateway into the world of gaming. Oh, how many hours I spent on endless skirmishes and attempts to complete another mission. AoE II has been with me throughout my conscious life and has always been installed on every computer.

Fog of War

I have never been an active player in multiplayer. Competing with bots alongside my comrades was my way of gaming. This review is dedicated to players like me – ordinary enthusiasts who occasionally indulge in memories of the genre’s former glory. But I suspect that the multiplayer community is still alive, so you should also check it out.

I couldn’t shake off my anxiety from the announcement of Age of Empires IV until its release. Relic Entertainment was entrusted with continuing the glorious dynasty. I don’t diminish their achievements in any way, but their entire portfolio can be divided into two stages: before Warhammer 40k Dawn of War and after. The studio’s games released after DoW were based on the “framework” of the space marine firstborn.

transition in the next era

Exhale – there is no need to fight for supply points. We are dealing with a classic RTS. The gameplay has carefully preserved all the legacy of the series: we create peasants, enrich the treasury with four resources, and wisely invest them in military power and various upgrades.

The choice of nations is currently limited – only 8 civilizations. It is likely that in the future this list will be expanded, as we can see from the example of remastered games in the series. However, the sides of the conflict now have much more differences.

  • Yes, Mongolians do not think about population limits (immediately maximum) and can move the entire base to the other side of the map at any moment.
  • Gentlemen from the Delhi Sultanate receive free upgrades at the expense of scientists.
  • The Rusichi receive gold for hunting wild animals, which makes it difficult to resist the temptation to send their spearmen on a crusade against deer and wolves in the early stages of the game.


The battle is taking place according to the classic rules of “rock-paper-scissors”. The cavalry skillfully breaks through the ranks of the archers, the archers shower the infantry with arrows, and so on.

The conditions for victory are preserved – the Age of Empires series has always cared not only for fans of Zerg rushes but also gave a chance to builders of impregnable defenses. Therefore, in addition to completely wiping out the enemy forces, the player is free to build and preserve a wonder of the world or maintain control over all the shrines on the map.

Army and walls

The maps are generated randomly, according to one of the pre-set biomes. You can save a liked generation by its number and play on it again.

The generator itself is capable of playing with the terrain in an interesting way. In one of the 2v2 matches, both teams were surrounded by walls, each preparing for decisive siege maneuvers, until a narrow passageway was discovered among the mountains. As a result, a major battle took place on this narrow path.

passage in the rocks

I like the gameplay, but the problem with Age of Empires IV is that it has embraced the latest trends in the gaming industry: it was released unfinished and with a lot of bugs. The main menu features a window with a list of daily quests that only give experience points. The actual level doesn’t mean anything. The same goes for multiplayer achievements, as the ranking system is not yet ready. And this is in a game where the online component is presented as the main dish.

Elite archers
Zunok profile

In the field warrior

The single-player part is quite limited. The campaigns are short-lived and resemble more of a themed game from the Discovery Channel. The missions do not challenge the player and rarely offer unusual situations. It’s either a scripted large-scale battle (for a game with a limit of 200 units) or a fortress siege.

During gameplay, a narrator’s voice reads historical excerpts. Between missions, you can enjoy truly magnificent videos about past events or peculiarities of everyday life.

The skirmish mode is sabotaged by the local artificial intelligence. I understand that quality AI in strategies is generally rare, but they managed to do it in Age of Empires II! Here, however… the computer often lazily acts, attacks with half its strength, just to avoid breaking our defense, and even deploys a huge army if it suddenly doubts that it can easily wipe out your troops. Because of this, after a couple of matches, even a dedicated offline player will start looking at the “online” tab.

protect the city from further attack of the Mongols


We get an interesting, but unpolished product that was released too early. It seems that the trend of finishing games after release is becoming the norm. The game has great potential, as evidenced by its lively (within the genre) online presence on Steam and interest from esports players.

One wants to believe that Relic knows what they’re doing and won’t abandon their creation. After all, earning recognition from long-time fans of the series is no easy task. Will they succeed, or will everyone go back to playing AoE II together?

Age of Empires IV
Real-Time, Strategy
Relic Entertainment
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



More Reviews