It is since its release that I have enjoyed playing Age Of Empires 4 (from now on Aoe4) and, at the same time, keeping an eye on the community to intercept interesting problems and news. While much of the discussion revolved around gaming strategies, others centered around much more interesting and sensitive topics, such as development strategies, marketing, event coverage, and more. Today we will talk about all these topics and the phantom release of Season 1.

Small alert: the article, by structure itself, presents numerous references to the world of RTS (Real Time Strategy) and the world of Age of Empires. Although I realize that it is not easy to use for the layman, I have tried to dilute the technical side as much as possible.

Is Age of Empires 4 the new Age of Empires 2?

Simply No., and it never will be.

One of the hottest and most frequent topics about the various Age of Empires 4 communities is its popularity: is AoE4 more popular than AoE2? And, more generally, is the RTS genre decaying? Is there a future for the Age of Empires saga if this title fails to mesh, as happened with Age of Empires 3? The pessimism, I do not hide it, is high in some posts. The situation, data in hand, does not seem to be promising.

As the steam cards Regarding the game's popularity, Age of Empires 4 literally stands bleeding. In just over six months, his regular user base has gone from 27 players to 6. The title, on Steam, boasts fewer players than the same Age of Empires 2, which has about 13 thousand players but beats the most "disgusted" chapter, Age of Empires 3, which barely reaches 2 thousand. A shameful result, if you think of a game that took years to come out: and this is probably the biggest problem. When a latest generation game fails to beat one from twenty years ago, something is wrong.

Age of Empires 4

What went wrong with Age of Empires 4

Having followed the game since its release I have been able to see a lot of the problems that plague the game and, I don't deny it, most of them are stark. To date, a few days after the release of Season 1, I have seen many errors. Going in order:

  • For a long time the game was influenced by the numerous bugs present at its release, solved with bugfixes after a few weeks / months but which, in the long run, destroyed a large part of the less loyal community. We are talking about siege weapons capable of winning the game on their own, markets that independently produced gold, upgrades that could be searched several times and so on. If every week I have to expect something that breaks the game, obviously, I don't play.
  • The aquatic part of the game is complex for most players; Some characteristics of civilizations make some of them predominant over others and, over time, a hostility towards maps that contained water has been built, which has led to frequent abandonment. Starting looking for a game, finding it, seeing there is water, and having an immediate drop out and back in line is frustrating.
  • The absence of the scenario editor, an interesting tool for modders and creators, was horrible. Though in a recent video it was possible to admire all the power of the game system, not having the editor at the exit caused many diatribes. It probably also removed part of the user, who poured into Age of Empires 2, from the old but still used editor.
  • The presence of only 4 campaigns (most of this boring one) has broken those who only played for the single-player. There are eight game civilizations, only 4 campaigns: a sad lack of vision that has punished the developers. Other modes such as co-op and arcade, already present in other RTS games, obviously made the situation worse.
  • A banal but basic thing: the impossibility of choosing your own color or casualizing the civilization with which you play. A 2022 game without a similar tool frankly makes you laugh.
Age of Empires 4: some details introduced to Ranked with Season 1
Age of Empires 4: some details introduced to Ranked with Season 1

The developer response to the complaints, the N4C question and the BeastQT response

Obviously, it cannot be said that the response of the developers was clear and immediate. While some of these problems have been resolved over time (siege weapons, markets, doubled relics, etc.) others are still present. The delay in the answers regarding the doubts and protests of the community have obviously fueled the general acrimony regarding the game. The few times something has been resolved, something else has been demolished, with obviously comical results.

In addition to what is already in the pot, at the end of the N4C tournament something else happened. At the end of the tournament, he saw BeastyQT, Serbian player, win the $ 100 grand prize against TheMista Nili, caster and celebrated AoE player took the floor. The speech, which you find in very large lines in this answer di Age of Noob, it was very heartfelt and particularly serious. In this the presenter (tournament director) said he was sorry for the lack of spectators for such an expensive tournament (just 6000 spectators) and expressed some doubts towards Microsoft e Relic. In addition to supporting the part of the community that speaks of AoE4 as a game already dead, having overshadowed the victory of BeasyQT to express regret about the game situation is serious and obviously not a good sign.

The answer of BeastyQT is not failure, obviously. He was a video of the sample released later, however, to shed light on a problem concerning the problem of the genre. It is undeniable, in fact, that the RTS is collapsing, slow. And the problem is the current state of the videogame world made mainly of microtransactions and the impossibility of the RTS genre to change and follow this market. It is complex to sell skins in an Age of Empires expecting the game to remain faithful to the historical period in which it is set. There popularity of a game is vital to its market and, you know, today i MOBA, FPS or Card Games, with skins, emotes and icons.

I money, Its popularity and in general the videogame capitalism they are killing RTS games. And it is at this juncture that Season 1 comes into play.

Age of Empires 4: the road map with Season 1 and Season 2

Season 1 of Age of Empires 4 is critical to the success of the game

As we have already mentioned, Season 1 will introduce a ranked mode for competitive players. This means milestones with prizes in every league; right now we only know that there will be icons around the names and any changes to the monuments in the city center. However, there is ample room for maneuver, so Age of Empires 4 can be turned into an interesting game even for today's audiences.

Speaking of the editor, the work of some willing modders could patch up the gaps in the game. New homemade campaigns could get as interesting as on Company of Heroes 2, where modders literally created a new game from the ashes of the old. New scenarios and historical battles could provide material for more casual players who are not looking to the competitive. In general, the community could save the game from the poor vision of the majors; a voluntary effort, almost on the basis of those who believe in the game and do not just follow mere profit.

In addition to this, numerous bug fixes and strategy changes could mark a good kick-off for Age of Empires 4. Almost six months after its release, we could talk about an almost complete game (although there are many games to come out incomplete, nowadays). The cost of € 60 (price of the game to date) for an RTS of 2022, released practically empty and in beta and today almost decent today, could therefore be justified.

In addition to this, the addition of single-player missions, albeit few, and other new features (coming in the next few days) could help consolidate those who the multi-player does not want to see it even from a distance.

What to work on next?

Obviously the future is inscrutable; you can only make a prediction and try to understand what might happen and react accordingly.

Surely you should focus on the popularity of the RTS genre: certainly not an easy genre. If, in fact, many other genres are more relaxing to play, RTS require constant effort (often lasting for twenty to thirty minutes). Not really something easy to digest for a mass of gamers trained in instant gratification.

The DLCs will surely help bring new life (and money, of course) to the game: looking at interesting results such as the Paradox video games, with hundreds of DLCs that enrich an otherwise empty game, you can take inspiration and improve the starting product. DLCs ​​that include campaigns, profile customization packs and civilizations could definitely help keep the game varied (as happened with AoE2).

Last but not least: the casual player base. Though Starcraft, Age of Empires, Company of Heroes have their focus on competitive play they must not forget about the players who play to pass the time with friends. We need co-op campaigns, with enjoyable missions and hours of entertainment, fun maps and more variety.

These should be the goals of Relic and Microsoft not to let go of time, which has slowed down to date, concerning one of the most famous sagas in the history of video games. Waiting, in addition to failure, is the oblivion of the saga itself, or of the whole genre - for those who want to be pessimistic to the core.