Age of Empires IV review

Reviewed by Adam Roffel

It’s great to get another full fledged Age of Empires experience in a long time - while we have been given definitive edition versions of Age of Empires and Age of Empires 2, this marks the first, brand new real-time strategy game in a very long while! 

But has the development team behind one of most iconic franchises found a way to recapture what made Age of Empires 2 so great? Let’s dive in!

Age of Empires 4 Details

  • Platform(s): PC and Xbox Cloud Gaming
  • Reviewed on:  PC
  • Developer(s): Relic Entertainment, World's Edge
  • Publisher(s): Xbox Game Studios
  • Genre(s): Real-time strategy
  • Mode(s): Single-player, online multiplayer 
  • ESRB Rating:  T (Teen)

Beautifully Constructed

There is no doubt that Age of Empires 4 looks absolutely gorgeous. From the cities you build in thick forests or on open plains, to the ships battles on the high seas, everything in this game is stunning. But even more impressive is the array of graphical options that will allow even those playing on non-gaming computers from 2016 to play. 

And yes, I tested it! While the game doesn’t look great dumbing down the graphics to the lowest settings, that classic Age of Empires gameplay is alive and well.

New Elements, Still Familiar 

Slight changes to the gameplay have resulted in slightly new ways to play, like gaining bonuses if all your buildings are touching, or if specific units or buildings fall within the influence of your town centre. But those classic mechanics still exist. Harvest food and wood and other resources and begin building a thriving civilization, working towards defeating your enemies.

While I feel the game still doesn’t capture what made Age of Empires 2 an instant classic, the gameplay doesn’t move too much away from Age Of Empires 3. While building troops in groups is no longer common practice, choosing which enhancements to pick for each age is.

And, it was a mechanic I actually enjoyed in Age of Empires 3 and I’m glad to see it returning here in 4. Adding buildings to improve from age to age is also a nice touch, making age advancements more meaningful. 

Historical Campaigns with Rich Narratives

This time around, the Age of Empires team has knocked it out of the park with campaigns. This is one area of the franchise that I firmly believe has improved from time to time. And this time the campaign has been taken to a whole other level. It all begins with fantastic storylines that are told via both cutscenes and in-game moments. 

My favourite, however, is when the team uses 21st century video of the places where these epic and historical battles actually took place. It's a neat way to portray the historical battles you are engaging in by bringing you to the real-world places where they took place.

And, while it might initially seem odd to have it portrayed this way, it quickly grew on me. For those who have visited these places themselves - whether historical forts, battle fields, etc - these videos will have an extra impact.

Worth the Price of Entry

So how do we sum up the 4 numbered adventure in the series? It's a strong title. It doesn't replace 2 as the top of the heap - at least not in my opinion - but the game does a lot right and provides content and campaigns you cannot play elsewhere. While I don't expect this to be the go-to for online play (two will remain the crown jewel in this regard), there is still a ton of content here to justify a purchase.

Check out the Age of Empires IV pre-launch stream.


  • Moulds new and old mechanics together
  • Fantastic Campaign
  • Varied Civilizations
  • Beautifully recreated


  • Steeper learning curve than past games