For many gamers, the announcement came out of the blue, and jubilant celebrations have erupted ever since. One of the most beloved strategy gaming franchises of all time, Age of Empires, quietly dropped a trailer for the fourth installment of the game yesterday. Let’s take a look at what the trailer tells us about the game:

Many Eras

The most important takeaway is that the action won’t be limited to a single era, but will encompass vast swathes of history. The trailer gives us glimpses of gorgeously painted scenes from some of the most famous wars of the last few centuries, across many different regions. We catch sight of Roman Legionnaires engaged in pitched battle. We see Spaniards attacking a city whose fortifications are on its last legs. Red Indians surge over their ancestral land in fierce rebellion against foreign invaders. Across the seas, a bedraggled samurai warrior leads an army against an unknown enemy.

While the painted animation moves from scenes of one battle to the next, an ominous voice ponders the constantly evolving nature of civilization, with each powerful empire giving way for the next great kingdom to build atop its ruins. The voice-over invites the viewer to look beyond steely armor and wickedly curved swords towards the human element of warfare, with thousands of soldiers slaughtering each other through the ages to create the next great empire.

A Relic Studio Product

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Relic Entertainment has established a solid reputation as creators of engaging strategy games. One of their most popular offerings is the Company of Heroes series. It remains to be seen whether the rich variety of armies featured in the trailer will have to be individually purchased in the game, a strategy that Relic followed for Company of Heroes 2.

This is the first time that Relic is going to be creating a game for any other company besides Sega. From the comments they have made on the topic so far on their blog, it’s clear that the company feels the weight of carrying on the rich legacy of AoE, and are looking to pour all their resources into developing a classic new addition to the franchise.

Exclusive to Microsoft 10

Now comes the news that may dampen the enthusiasm of many fans. Age of Empires 4 is going to be exclusive to Windows 10. There are a lot of fans who are not going to be happy about this. Similar strategies in the past have found Windows being accused of strong-arming fans of their games into upgrading to the latest version of windows even if they don’t want to, just to be able to play the game.

Windows 10 has proven itself to be a popular choice among Microsoft patrons since it offers greater functionality over most previous versions, so upgrading to 10 will probably be a move that most AoE fans will be willing to make to play the game. But there will also inevitably be a section of the fanbase that will have strong words to say on the topic in the months leading up to the game’s release.

Uncertain Release Date

Speaking of release, we don’t really know when Age of Empires 4 will be available to play. The trailer only offers concept art from the game, which means the actual product is only just starting to be developed. The end result will most probably look significantly different from the placeholder art in the trailer. Considering how aware Relic is about the legacy entrusted to them with the series, they will probably want to take their time coming up with a series that doesn’t disappoint their fans, and their first client outside of Sega.

A Reddit Offering?

One of the most amusing aspects of Age of Empires 4 is that it may owe its very existence to a random encounter between Bill Gates and a Reddit user. The frequently cited ‘Richest Man in the World’ and owner of Microsoft was conducting an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on Reddit when one of the readers decided to use the chance to make a plea for a new addition to Age of Empires. Soon other users joined in to bump the question to the top to catch Gate’s attention. And it did!

age of empires 4

Of course, it’s entirely possible that this little chance encounter is not the actual reason behind the creation of Age of Empires 4, but it’s amusing to think that that random request provided an impetus to bring out another sequel for the classic game.

Since Age of Empires 4 is going to be a while, you can get your fix for the franchise with Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, which is a 4K remaster of the original Age of Empires. The Definitive Edition will be available on the Windows Store for Windows 10 from October 19.

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