4X strategy games put a lot of emphasis on four core goals: Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate. We’re talking about the sort of game where a humble group of villagers works together to gradually build up a sprawling empire over several millennia. One of the longest-running and most popular franchises in the subgenre will soon get another mainline sequel with Age of Empires IV.
Originally announced at Gamescom 2017 during a celebration of the franchise’s 20-year anniversary, Age of Empires IV is being developed by Relic Entertainment. The game had been mostly MIA in recent years until an April 2021 fan preview event lifted the curtain on what’s coming next. Previous entries focused on different eras, but Game Director Quinn Duffy has already confirmed that the next entry is a “spiritual successor” to Age of Empires 2, which focused heavily on the Middle Ages of human civilization, allowing players to duke it out in procedurally generated maps or experience pivotal historical battles during the campaign.
Here’s everything you need to know about Age of Empires IV.
When is the Age of Empires 4 release date?
Thus far, there is no confirmed release date for Age of Empires 4, but the official Steam page lists “Fall 2021” as the planned release window.
Is there an Age of Empires 4 Xbox or PlayStation release date?
Currently, the game will only be released on PC, and while developers haven’t ruled out a console version just yet, it doesn’t seem likely. Because Xbox Game Studios is the publisher, it’s even more unlikely that the game would ever come to Sony platforms. If anything, it might come to Xbox Series X|S at some point.
Will Age of Empires 4 be on Xbox Game Pass for PC?
Yes! Happy news for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. Not only will Age of Empires 4 be available on PC via Steam, but it will also be included as part of Xbox Game Pass for PC at launch.
Is there an Age of Empires 4 trailer?
The very first Age of Empires IV gameplay trailer debuted in November 2019 at X019, Microsoft’s global celebration of all things Xbox-related. It should look familiar to any fans of the series, albeit with much more advanced graphics in this latest entry.
During the April 2021 fan preview livestream (which itself is over 26 minutes), we got a further look at a nearly 6-minute gameplay trailer:
The trailer progresses through each major time period of the Middle Ages, namely the Dark Age, Feudal Age, Castle Age, and Imperial Age. Each new epoch brings with it specific upgrades and technologies to explore. It also offers a sneak peak at some of the civilizations that will be playable in the upcoming game. Different societies have unique units and strengths that define the experience for the player, so emphasizing those characteristics is often half the fun.
What is Age of Empires 4 gameplay like?
Despite some spiffy updated graphics, the fourth mainline title looks like it’ll closely resemble the core gameplay of previous entries. In this real-time strategy game, players control entire civilizations at the micro and macro level, commanding individual or groups of people to a task, be it harvesting a vital resource or skewering some invaders.
Villagers collect resources like wood, food, gold, and stone. Different types of army troops are more effective against others (think rocks, paper, scissors but for ranged, mounted, and foot soldiers). It’s also necessary to invest in the culture and technology for your people as time progresses. The real bread and butter, of course, has everything to do with coming directly into conflict with other civilizations.
Age of Empires 4 takes a somewhat unique approach by incorporating documentary footage shot in real-world locations to provide historical context to campaign missions and battles. An April 2021 Polygon report makes it clear that developers want players to learn about actual history while playing. The Norman Campaign is one of them that begins with William of Normandy’s battle for the English throne in 1066.
What is the Age of Empire 4 fan preview Virtual Village?
Over at fanpreview.ageofempires.com, anyone can visit a “Virtual Village” to learn more about the game. Here’s the official word from developers about the interesting tie-in site:
You can head to our Virtual Village to catch more exclusive content, learn more about the Age of Empires IV civilizations we've revealed thus far, and take part in some activities built exclusively for this celebration.
You can play mini-games, design a coat of arms, make a postcard, unlock some Instagram filters, or make a portrait medallion. But the real draw of exploring the Virtual Village is in learning more about the Civilizations included in the game — or perhaps the handful of fun Easter eggs to discover.
What are the Age of Empires 4 civilizations?
Thus far, four unique civilizations have been revealed:
- The Chinese
- The Delhi Sultanate
- The Mongols
- The English
The Fan Preview Virtual Village offers fairly exhaustive descriptions for each of these, but the more traditional website for the game also breaks down all four to a lesser extent. The Chinese focus on “impressive constructions, gunpowder strength, and a Dynasty System that provides unique benefits and varied strategies to overcome the opponent.” Meanwhile, the Delhi Sultanate is at “the forefront of technological innovation,” but this civilization also has access to the iconic War Elephant army unit.
The English specialize in a network of castles, which makes for a more robust defense that’s augmented by archers and a dependable food economy. Lastly, the Mongols put much of their focus on agile military power as a nomadic civilization.
Is there an Age of Empires 4 beta?
Yes. During the April 2021 preview events, developers shared the first details about the game’s upcoming closed beta that’ll be open to any “Age Insider” members who sign up on the official website. You’ll need an Xbox Live / Microsoft Account to do so. Only those over the age of 18 can participate, and they’ll have to complete a brief survey to be considered.
Age of Empires IV is currently in development.