When you've hit Post-Imperial, and there are hundreds of units to manage, these small changes make a huge difference. Time-gating mechanics stagger the fun, but there's simply so much to do that they're almost welcomed. Now, with Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition (AoEII:DE) — developed by Forgotten Empires, Tantalus Media, and Wicked Witch and published by Xbox Game Studios — fans of the series are getting an impressive graphics overhaul with new animations and 4K support, three new campaigns with four new civilizations, remastered audio, new units and technologies, plenty of QoL changes, and an improved multiplayer experience with leaderboards, ladders, matchmaking, and improved spectator mode. It was, in essence, a nostalgia play. The Definitive Edition has attempted to balance out some key aspects of the game — including making the Barracks infantry line more feasible with new technology — but there's still a way to go. New AI has been implemented, as well as a ton of new commands for allied AI players. Path-finding is much better too; units generally go where I want them to go. This wasn't the case every time, and more often than not, units figured out what they should do to ensure a long life, but I did have a laugh a couple of times as I watched my units pass by the enemy to attack something completely non-threatening. A zoom feature has been implemented, so you can now pull back to get a broader look at the map or punch right in to see your workers toiling. We were told that this option will be available as a download on launch day for those who purchase the retail version. No more having to click an individual item to see how much remains. Ever since I played my first round of the original game, I wanted to see castles and town centers crumble into dust, and that's now a reality. Once the optional campaigns are completed, you can jump into singleplayer skirmishes against AI or into multiplayer against other humans. I immediately changed graphics settings to my liking — disabled bloom, disabled animated fog, and cranked everything else up — and set resolution to 1440p. I've been playing AoEII:DE for about a week to check out whether or not it's worth a buy for long-time veterans and newcomers to the series. All the old campaigns have been included, with updates, as well as a new campaign based on the waning days of the Khanate. Finally, no doubt because of the cross-play feature between Microsoft and Steam, mods will be collected at the Age of Empires website instead of the Steam Workshop. Sign up now to get the latest news, deals & more from Windows Central! Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition, Remaster, which was released in November 2019 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the original title, is about to receive its first official expansion. This is also present in the game’s review build which I played. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition looks beautiful, but you'll need a beefy PC to take full advantage. I’m especially taken by the way buildings crumble to the ground when they finally succumb to siege. Age of Empires II isn't a game that needed any major mechanics reworked, and that's been honored here in the Definitive Edition. When it first came out in 1999, I played a lot of Age of Empires 2. I had to click the ground next to the castle to get the villagers to go through the deleted wall portion, then click the castle foundation again to have them start work. Much-needed game-control improvements have also been added. Age of Empires II: HD Edition spawned its own collection of expansion packs, including The Forgotten, The African Kingdoms, and Rise of the Rajas, complete with a bunch of new civilizations, campaigns and a graphics reworks that better suited modern hardware and displays. Each building in Age of Empires games builds multiple types of units. The old peer-to-peer servers are gone in favor of dedicated servers spread out across global regions. Stables, for example, can build light cavalry, heavy cavalry, scouts, camel riders, and more. For all the effort that’s gone into this, it’s kind of insane to get all this game for a mere $20. The new missions are expertly voice acted, and the older campaigns have also been reworked with new voice acting. In single-player mode, the game’s AI has been spruced up. Review: Hivebusters is a welcome addition to the excellent Gears 5, You should definitely play Borderlands 3 on Xbox Series X, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands review — Endgame o' plenty, If you want FreeSync for your Xbox One games, you have few options, Includes all previous expansions and one new expansion, Reworked AI that puts up a far better challenge without cheating, Factory graphics settings are not ideal for returning players, Requires a considerable amount of PC power for best experience. Unit management becomes more difficult as the enemy takes out my seriously vulnerable bombardment units, leaving me unable to destroy the city’s last citadel. Learn more. The patrol command for troops, ideal for sending battalions into battle, seemed, in some cases, to be off. AI has come a long way in the last two decades, and Definitive Edition’s improvements in this area really show. Playing online is a totally different experience than playing computer-controlled opponents, almost to the point of being a different game. For example, you can tell allies to attack with certain troops, you can choose where to fortify with walls, and you can ask them to focus on certain aspects of the game to better complement your playstyle. Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition is out now on Windows PC. There's an old joke with Age of Empires II fans that the game taught more history than any class in high school, and that's more valid than ever with three new campaigns. Altogether, you're getting more than 200 hours of singleplayer gameplay before even breaking into skirmishes and multiplayer action. I played a lot of the original and HD versions, and I was able to jump into a Definitive Edition skirmish and play without having to make many adjustments. It's a quicker way to get into the action and offers something new for returning players. 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