As expected, Age of Empires IV took center stage during yesterday’s Inside Xbox XO19 broadcast with a brand new game play trailer. Well, game play might not be the right term – a scripted in-engine trailer.
Regardless, we got our first in-the-flesh look at the game. The Age of Empires community breathed a sigh of relief as it became apparent it was set during the medieval period.
Many feared Xbox would transport Age of Empires IV into the modern era, or worse, offer a botched history-spanning aberration. But that’s not the case. Xbox seems to have rightfully gauged that the time-period most representative of the franchise as a whole (and, arguably, the best entry, Age of Empires II), was that of gallant knights and towering trebuchets. There’s not a musket in sight, and that’s a good thing.
However, we may not be in the clear quite yet. In a post Inside Xbox interview with IGN, creative director Adam Isgreen revealed Age of Empires IV would offer a broader historical time-span than Age of Empires II. He said the time-period starts earlier than many will expect and ends around the start of the Renaissance. Nevertheless, it’s still within acceptable limits for a firmly medieval title.
The interview also dives into the first two confirmed civilizations, the Mongols and the English.
Despite hitting the mark with the historical time-period, the Age of Empires IV trailer raises a few red flags. Notably, the art style. It wavers between the chunky, cartoonish, almost mobile game aesthetic of the buildings and units, to the over-saturated color scheme.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it all comes down to execution. There’s a risk Xbox will favor simplified game play to draw in a broader player base rather than tap into the complex systems and strategy that defined Age of Empires II in particular.
Another piece of good news surfacing from last night’s event is the announcement of a brand new studio dedicated to the Age of Empires IP, known as World’s Edge. It will led by former head of the Xbox Game Studios Global Publishing group, Shannon Loftis.
There’s a sense that Microsoft has long overlooked the franchise despite its cult status. It’s a pleasant surprise to see that alongside a slew of Definitive Editions for existing games and Age of Empires IV, Xbox is eager to propel the IP forward for the foreseeable future. Whether it can do so tactfully and to the standard that the community expects is a whole other kettle of fish.
Last modified: September 23, 2020 1:16 PM