Total War Vs Age Of Empires

Is Age of Empires Still Worth Playing?

The history of a classic RTS series

Trey Griffeth

Written by for Opinions on


Last month,
Age of Empires 4
released for PC and it marks the kickoff full installment of the franchise since
Historic period of Empires III
back in 2005. I spent a proficient clamper of time on it and had a adequately good fourth dimension only before I get-go booted it up, a couple questions kept entering my mind: does
Age of Empires
take a identify in gaming anymore and is the franchise on the whole
all the same worth playing?

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Age of Empires II screenshot
Piece of work, ye maggots; this gilt own’t gonna mine itself! (Age of Empires II)

For those who may not be enlightened,
Age of Empires
is a serial of real-time strategy games that were very popular in the late 90s and early 2000s. The first game was released dorsum in 1997 and it spanned from the Stone Historic period to the Roman Empire period. The post-obit game,
Age of Empires II, enjoyed a lot more mainstream success and was a must-accept PC game at the time. A spin-off called
Age of Mythology
would release ii years later and it remains one of my all-time favorite games and it represented the peak of the franchise.
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The gameplay in every installment is almost the same as you gather food, golden, wood, and another resource to build up your towns, erect defenses, field an army, upgrade that army, advance through the ages, and defeat the opposing factions. Combat is substantially a giant rock-paper-scissors friction match with infantry usually existence potent confronting cavalry, cavalry stiff against archers, archers strong against infantry, and there are a number of other counter units and siege weapons thrown in to milk shake things upwardly. Other games similar StarCraft and Warcraft featured similar styles and for a time, the mechanics were the definition of “if it own’t broke, don’t fix information technology” just as it turned out, the
Age of Empires
games had a rival that would eventually come to boss the RTS genre.

Age of Empires IV screenshot
Oh, darn; hither we go again… (Age of Empires IV)

While the
Historic period of Empires
games continued to impress, another development team known as Creative Assembly was taking its ain shot at the RTS genre. In 2000, the team made its first big franchise debut with Shogun: Total War and so followed it up with Medieval: Total War. The series wouldn’t attain mainstream recognition for some other 2 years until the release of Rome: Full War which effectively redefined the genre by asking a very simple question: what if we implemented realistic kingdom management and military tactics?

The main gameplay mechanics of the Total State of war franchise is a bit complicated but unlike Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis, it was at least accessible. You beginning equally a faction that is usually on the smaller side. Y’all then use currency not just to build an army but to build infrastructure in your cities and provinces. For every coin yous spend on your war machine, you’re going to want to spend just as much edifice roads, sewers, and other things to bring in money via trading posts, mines, and farms. In improver, you lot need to consider the well-being of your citizens who volition anarchism and kicking you out of your ain cities if they are not satisfied with your rule. This added an entirely new angle to the genre that normally boils the civilian population downwards to workers with no purpose other than to fuel your faction’southward war car.

Rome: Total War screenshot 1
We built this city on rock and scroll (Rome: Total War)

The big show stealer was of course, the use of actual military tactics in combat. It’s not only about overwhelming with sheer numbers every bit yous can strategize with troop types, terrain, and flanking maneuvers which may turn the tide of battle. Every victory makes you feel similar a general and every loss can be a burdensome tragedy which is more than satisfying overall than anything the
Historic period of Empires
games ever did.

One twelvemonth after Rome: Total War debuted, the
Age of Empires
franchise released its third installment which we idea would be the concluding. The time period jumped ahead over again; stretching from the colonial era to the industrial revolution. While
Age of Empires III
wasn’t bad by any means, it definitely lacked the same magic that its predecessors had and felt flat-out archaic when compared to Rome: Full War. The mechanics only weren’t as innovative or every bit satisfying when at that place was a far more sophisticated option that had been released a year prior. As it turned out, the companies backside these games seemed to hold with this as the genre soon started to dwindle.

Rome: Total War screenshot 2
Diplomatic immunity for the win! (Rome: Total War)

After the release of
Age of Empires III, this style of real-time strategy game had roughly five more mainstream releases in the side by side 16 years. These were of course, the couple of Visitor of Heroes games, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, and the ii Halo Wars games. The first Company of Heroes and StarCraft Two were both well-received past gamers and critics but this type of RTS refused to grab on once more.

Following their work on the first Halo Wars game,
Age of Empires
programmer Ensemble Studios closed in 2009 while seemingly taking the
Age of Empires
franchise with it. The Company of Heroes games failed to achieve the same level of recognition equally
Age of Empires II
and faded abroad for some time. The apparent swan song of the entire genre seems to come in the class of Halo Wars 2 dorsum in 2017 which besides failed to wow fans or critics. That was until last month when
Historic period of Empires IV
was finally released.

For me,
Age of Empires IV
is a game that falls squarely into the category of skilful but non groovy and in many ways, feels similar a remake of
Age of Empires 2. Its graphics have been modernized and the gameplay engine speeds things up so the experience is a bit faster-paced. However, the core gameplay is nearly unchanged with the simply notable difference beingness the enhanced effectiveness of archers which makes it experience more than like a throwback title than a modernistic installment. Even some of the campaigns like The Hundred Years’ War and The Mongol Horde are remakes of campaigns from the second game. In fact, information technology almost feels similar an indie game that was originally made as some kind of tribute or spiritual successor then was somehow turned into a full sequel. While I certainly had my fun playing it, it’s hard for me to fully recommend
Age of Empires Iv
to gamers who didn’t play the starting time few games at the turn of the millennium.

Rome: Total War screenshot 3
Diplomatic immunity has just been revoked (Rome: Total State of war)

This brings usa back to our original questions:
is Age of Empires worth playing
and does the franchise still have a place when games like the Total War franchise exists? My answer to both questions would exist “yes” but in a somewhat express chapters. At the time of its release,
Age of Empires IV
apace became a top seller on Steam and has received generally positive reviews on the platform while disquisitional reviews are likewise mostly positive. At the same time, I have difficulty seeing whatsoever new
Historic period of Empires
gain traction with audiences exterior of those who grew upwardly with it. This is specially true when you have games like the Total State of war franchise out there which offers a far more sophisticated experience only for at present, at least
Historic period of Empires
still has a place; even if their seat at the tabular array may non be there forever.

Let's Play video for Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition thumbnail