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Age of Empires 4 Graphic Review: Embracing the New Era

In the era when Real-Time Strategy Games were thriving in China, games such as Red Alert, Empire, StarCraft, and Warcraft were considered standard in domestic internet cafes and many gamers’ computers. However, with the rise of traditional MMORPGs and MOBA games, the entire Real-Time Strategy Game genre began to decline. Nowadays, it is difficult to add sequels to classic series that have accompanied a generation. Therefore, when Microsoft announced the news of “Age of Empires 4”, many veteran players were excited.

Age of Empires 4 is developed by the veteran real-time strategy developer Relic Entertainment, also known as Mine Society, which developed Company of Heroes , Homeland, and Dawn of War. The game retains many unique elements of the series, and the overall experience is still very close to the previous “Age of Empires” series.

Continuing the series’ characteristic system mode

As the 2021 Real-Time Strategy Game, the improvement of image quality in Age of Empires 4 is obvious. In the game, units have added richer action designs. For example, when infantry charges, there are obvious jumping or stabbing movements; when shield warriors confront spear soldiers, they use shields to push their spears away, and so on. The clothing of other units such as villagers, scouts, and some special units will also change significantly with the passage of time. It can be said that this game has put some effort into the details of the visual performance.

The art of the game is closer to the cartoon style of Civilization 6

On the other hand, the User Interface Design of the game is relatively simple, and various units, including leaders, do not have corresponding portrait avatars. At the same time, some units also lack a certain degree of recognition. When I was playing English Civilization in the early stage, I mistook the villagers holding bows for long archers several times. Without paying attention to the formation numbers, the same color scheme and similar soldier models can easily confuse people.

Perhaps because the changes in the third generation were too “radical”, the development design of “Age of Empires 4” in the system was obviously more conservative. This game largely adopts the gameplay mechanism of the previous two games, from resource collection, facility construction to production units, replacement era… The experience of these elements is very familiar to veteran players, and the overall performance of the game is more like a super power-enhanced version of the previous two generations.

In the operation process of Age of Empires 4, there are also four eras: darkness, feudalism, castle, and emperor. The game uses an upgrade system similar to the third generation. After meeting the resource conditions, players can build “landmark buildings” to push their own civilization to the next era.

The “landmark buildings” of different periods can provide different benefits in the fields of military, economy, defense, and religion. For example, the “Meinvik Palace” of Shinra has the function of a blacksmith shop, and the cost of technological research conducted here will be reduced by 25%. As a defensive landmark, China’s “Great Wall Gate Tower” needs to be built with stone walls, which not only increases the durability of the stone walls but also provides additional damage bonuses for the stationed troops on the walls. This is undoubtedly the first choice for tower defense players.

After reaching a certain amount of food and money resources, you can choose to build landmarks. However, there seems to be no obvious prompt in the game when the conditions are met.

When it comes to stone walls, this is a significant element that has changed significantly in Age of Empires 4. In addition to having high durability and better blocking effect, stone walls can now also send walking units to stand on them. Troops stationed on stone walls can gain defensive bonuses, and archers can shoot farther.

Players can build a large castle and set up layers of defense inside as a “tower defense” game to play. They can also boldly try to build stone walls into enemy territory, launch a tower rush, and use the range and defense advantages brought by the stone walls to eliminate the enemy from a high position.

A unique stone wall tower can be built outside the stone wall. After upgrading the castle network technology, the stone wall tower can sound an alarm when the enemy approaches, and increase the shooting speed of nearby troops and defense facilities during the alarm period.

The large arrow tower in the 4th generation is equivalent to a military fortress. Players can also upgrade the boiling oil and install artillery for the large arrow tower. Although the damage and attack speed of the large arrow tower are high, the arrows fired by the arrow tower can only target individual enemies. When facing groups of enemies, the performance of the large arrow tower is relatively limited.

As for the “influence” system in the fourth generation, simply put, there are some buildings with halo effects in each civilization, which can provide production, collection, or scientific research bonuses for facility units within the scope. For example, Mongolia’s Aobao can enhance the unit production and research effects of buildings within the scope. However, Aobao can only be built on stone mines, so this factor needs to be taken into account in the early layout planning.

The influence mechanism will to some extent affect the development path of various civilizations. Combined with landmark buildings and new stone wall mechanisms, this part of the design is quite enjoyable for players who love “farming” and “tower defense”.

The military units in Age of Empires 4 largely continue the previous characteristics. There is a basic triangular restraint relationship between spearmen, archers, and cavalry. At the same time, the game adds a charge mechanism for cavalry. When moving, cavalry will accelerate towards the enemy and carry additional damage bonuses. Correspondingly, spearmen will automatically line up and raise their spears to resist the charge when they are on standby. In the siege weapons, the chariot and siege tower need to be built by infantry units.

English longbows now have the ability to resist horses and can withstand cavalry.

As can be seen in the picture, large ships are now attacking from the side.

However, there are still many bugs and details in the game, such as AI’s automated pathfinding and attack, shortcut failure caused by input method, blood display of troops, tapping feel of unit objects, and lack of patrol and map switching display functions, etc.

Without personally controlling the selection of targets, the automatic AI of remote units will prioritize attacking enemy buildings rather than the military.

[Battle and Force Mechanism]

One of the characteristics of this campaign is the inclusion of a large number of cutscenes that combine ancient and modern elements. In addition to the historical background of the campaign, there are also special content introductions such as castles, catapults, the Great Wall, Mongolian horses, etc. If you are interested in this type of theme, it is still worth enjoying slowly.

Welcome to Age of Empires 4 History Discovery Channel

The battles of Empire 2 are biographies of heroes and leaders, Empire 3 depicts the fate of families and individuals under the historical torrent, while the battles of Empire 4 can be said to be chronicles of various civilizations. Each battle in the game selects a period of historical content. For example, the “Hundred Years’ War” campaign began with the “Thirty Warriors’ Battle” in 1351 and continued until the crucial battle of Kumini in 1450, which determined the victory or defeat of Britain and France.

Overall, the level experience of the campaign is highly repetitive. The mode of defending the city and counterattacking or clearing the stronghold to attack the main target accounts for the majority, and the process is basically the same. Of course, the city defense battle in this game is still quite fun to play, and I personally do not dislike playing more levels. The level of fighting more with less, such as the Calega River in the Mongolian Campaign, is just a formality, and it is difficult to reflect the strategy and operability. In addition, the current four campaigns do not involve naval warfare content.

The tactical objectives in some campaign levels are relatively rich, but the overall performance cannot be concealed.

The differences between the current 8 civilization forces in the game mainly lie in unique units, landmark buildings, influence, and civilization bonuses. For example, Mongolian facilities can be relocated, and troops destroying enemy buildings can plunder gold and food resources. In the Sudan civilization, learners are quite important units. Sudan’s technology can be upgraded for free, but the research speed is very slow, and only scholars can speed up the research speed. In addition, scholars can also be stationed in all military production buildings to speed up the production of troops…

As for the differences in the technology trees of each civilization, there is not much difference, except for a small amount of proprietary technology, most of them are similar. Overall, the content of the current battles and civilizations in Age of Empires 4 is still relatively small, and needs to be supplemented by subsequent DLCs.

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