Microsoft is bringing back the Age of Empires series, and it is starting with an updated version of the original game for $20 on February 20. This celebrates the 20th anniversary of the real-time strategy hit, and it also should prepare fans for the upcoming Age of Empires sequel that Microsoft has in the works.
I’ve spent some time with Age of Empires: Definitive Edition on Windows 10, and Microsoft has delivered on its promise to update the game for modern audiences without stripping away what made Age of Empires so popular in the first place. Microsoft has previously reworked the sequels, and now, it is giving a more thorough makeover to the first game. Most noticeably, this includes major improvements to the visuals, but it also includes a number of quality-of-life improvements. The only thing that is completely intact is the underlying core gameplay.
When you first boot into an Age of Empires match, you’ll see that Microsoft redid all of the art and animations. It has also rerecorded the soundtrack, introduced new voice acting, improved multiplayer features, and revised the user interface.
One change that I think serves as an example of how Age of Empires: Definitive Edition has changed is build queues. That concept wasn’t in the original version, so you had to do a lot more babysitting of your buildings. Definitive Edition integrates that improvement so well that it ends up feeling like something that was always a part of the game.
I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend with Age of Empires: Definitive Edition going forward. It’s nice to enjoy a throwback like this without having to struggle to get it working on a modern system, but RTS games have come a long way. And I’m more interested in learning what Age of Empires does next.