The original Age of Empires turns 20 this year, and Microsoft knows exactly how to celebrate: by releasing it again, in shiny 4K, as Age of Empires: Definitive Edition.
First announced at E3 2017, the Definitive Edition is a full remaster of the original 1997 real-time strategy game, with improved visuals, a re-orchestrated soundtrack, bug fixes, UI tweaks, and a host of other modern enhancements. Read on to find out everything we know so far, including how to sign up for the beta.
When is the release date?
Age of Empires: Definitive Edition is due out some time later in 2017, though we don’t yet know exactly when. Given that the original game arrived in October 1997, and this new release is shooting for the 20th anniversary, we’d hope to see this around October 2017, but we’ll see if the devs can make that date.
As you might expect, the game will be out for PC only.
Where can I pre-order it?
The good news is, Microsoft are sensible enough to realise you probably don’t want to pay full price for a 20-year-old game, and have announced that the game will cost just $20 – so probably £15-20.
The bad news is, it’s not available to pre-order from anywhere yet, so we don’t know the final UK price or any of the pre-order bonuses. Check back here to find out more when we know it.
How can I join the beta?
If you don’t want to wait months to get your hands on the game, you can play it early – if you’re lucky.
There’s a closed beta running for the game as part of the Age of Empires Insider Program, which you can sign up for from the game’s official site.
That will give you access to the latest news about the game before anyone else, and potentially access to the beta program so that you can play and test the game over the summer.
What are the features?
So, what does the Definitive Edition offer that you can’t get from the original game?
Well, the biggest change is visual, as the game will feature entirely new assets to provide 4K graphics, meaning that the game will look sharper than ever before – though still very much in that recognisable Age of Empires style.
The enhancements aren’t just visual though. Developer Forgotten Empires is also re-orchestrating and re-recording the whole score, modernising the UI, and fixing a host of gameplay bugs.
There’ll even be a variety of tweaks to the actual gameplay, but we don’t yet have the details exactly what gameplay changes players should expect.
Online multiplayer support and achievements are also being added through Xbox Live, and the game will include the Rise of Rome expansion pack, giving players a total of 16 civilisations to play as and 10 campaigns to conquer.