Age Of Empires Online Online In Autumn

By Alec Meer on May 11th, 2011 at 8:23 am.

Is that concept art or a screenshot? I can't even tell anymore.

Just a morning quickie for you, dearie. Microsoft’s free to play, levelling up-based resurrection of its mysteriously-killed RTS franchise Age of Empires now bears a more-or-less release date, and that is this Autumn, or Tumble, or whatever it is that the colonies insist on calling it. The Gas Powered Games co-developed Age of Empires Online is a free to play jobbie, funded by paid-for DLC – primarily in the form of extra playable civs, modes and willy-waving cosmetic upgrades for units.

At launch, you get the Greek and Egyptian Empires to play with before you splash out, and the first add-on will be a wave-survival mode called the Defense Of Crete. Oh, and if you’re a silvery plastic fetishist, there’ll also be a paid retail version of the game which includes a bunch of the DLC from the off. More details on the DLC and stuff over on Eurogamer.

I’ve got an AoEO key somewhere – must swallow my distaste for all things microtransacted, take a sober look at how it works in this instance and report back soon. Meanwhile, here’s some guy’s in-game footage to give you a sense of things:

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35 Comments »

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  1. MrMud says:

    I have played the open beta for a few hours and im qurious if it ever becomes challanging (other than multiplayer)?
    Because right now it feels more like an MMO grind than a challanging strategy game but that might be because im still early. But I dont really want to continue unless there is actually some meat to be had.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Nero says:

    I also saw TotalBiscuit’s preview of the beta recently which goes into some more detail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0t8xbAR_UQ

    • Kilrathi says:

      Somehow that guy manages to keep me interested all throughout his 30-40 min. game reviews. I guess he has a good radio voice plus he’s informative without getting overly technical. Made me actually want to check out the game.

    • Hirmetrium says:

      TB is generally good at commentary all around, for any game. Pity, one of my friends has worked with him and he never shuts up about Youtube views :P

    • Kilrathi says:

      Haha! I guess it comes with the territory seeing as he calls himself The Cynical Brit. I checked and he has over 100 million views on his account. He must have unlocked the Bragging Rights achievement.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      @Hirmetrium – interested to know who that might be

  3. HexagonalBolts says:

    The music in that video really irritates me, a sort of vague grand orchestral tune like that in Age of Empires 3, I much preferred the music of the first two games. I’d prefer most of all if that actually did music that reflected the culture you were playing.

    • Defiant Badger says:

      Yes, Age of Mythology did that pretty well I recall.

  4. TheSaddestSort says:

    I’m not sure what to make of this online iteration nonsense, though I know that Age of Empires (2) will always be a game I look back on fondly and with a great deal of nostalgia.

  5. Betamax says:

    Tried this recently and while I was surprised at the quality (it was originally slated to be a Facebook game I believe) I still can’t get over the Free2play MMO refitting of one of the games that made me. I even loved Mythology, although I never got into AoE3.

    I do get the feeling this could be a whole lot of fun for people new to AoE or RTS in general, or just aren’t as bothered by the differences. A lot of the core AoE gameplay and even some of the charm is intact so it is definitely worth trying out, but I don’t see myself ever giving it a serious go.

  6. GenBanks says:

    Someone please call me when they release a f2p mmo version of Rise of Nations… now there’s a game I’m shocked hasn’t been immitated/sequelified (other than the disappointing dumbed down Rise of Legends).
    It would also be suitable to the MMO thing because it’s already on a more ‘macro’ scale than Age of Empires.

  7. Zogtee says:

    The sad thing is that I would very likely buy and play this, if it was a regular game and not this almost-an-MMO nonsense. I guess I’m in a minority, though.

    • Defiant Badger says:

      You will very much be the minority for buying for it because it’s free to play!

  8. Heliocentric says:

    I’ll give this a chance, but the moment I can pay for +1 archer damage I will never play a Microsoft free2play MMO again.

    Its not “free to play” when its “free to be a payers bitch”..

  9. Premium User Badge

    MonkeyMonster says:

    this is very very dangerous. too much time will be lost. i better start planning my early retirement now – won’t pay for anything but the idea of it being there is too much too resist. wonder if it will run on my htc…

    • Tams80 says:

      I’m sorry, but WHAT?! What on earth are you on about?!

    • Premium User Badge

      MonkeyMonster says:

      its free and based in a browser – ie playable anywhere with a screen… it has no finishing point as it were so why stop playing, work, pah, hence retirement

      it will eat time and my life.

      and htc is a smart phone – with a browser… see connection above to playing it lots.

    • jamesgecko says:

      It’s not a browser game.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    I’ve played an hour with it this weekend.

    And above all it felt way too slow. First a tutorial to show me how to gather food. Then one to show me how to cut wood. Then one to use fishing. Then one to… And each time you have to restart from scratch.

    Just show us a small tutorial on one map where you do all that. I don’t want to spend an entire day just playing your tutorial.

    Besides that it actually looked and felt like Age of Empires which surprised me. It might end up being a fun game.

    • Dominic White says:

      There definitely needs to be a ‘skip tutorials’ button, but doing things slowly and step-by-step is generally a good idea. If you can even think that far back, try and remember your first ever experience with a strategy game. You need to slowly introduce new players to each element.

    • MrMud says:

      But you also need to retain the attention of strategy gamers who fall asleep on their keyboards when doing these things.

      Like I mentioned before I have already played several hours of this game and there is nothing even remotely challanging yet so chances are I wont play any more. Im just to bored with it already.

    • Tams80 says:

      For players new to the series there does need to be a good, thorough tutorial, although the past games managed that pretty quickly. With a skip tutorial button, these players may choose to just skip all the tutorials and the go on to complain: “tis gam iz to hard! i dont kno how to do anythng!” Of course this will be entirely their fault, but even just a few bad but misunderstood/plain stupid reviews may be really bad for the game. People more accustomed with the game on the other hand may find it really annoying to do the tutorials, but are more likely to stick around.

      The best option may be to have the skip tutorial option not be obvious. Maybe buried (not too deeply) in some option menu.

  11. frenz0rz says:

    Got to say, I’m a little disheartened with the state of free-to-play games recently. Following a beta stint in the pleasant yet extraordinarily tedious BSG Online, I’ve recently started playing the just-released World of Tanks.

    Dont get me wrong, the first few hours were very fun, and I’ve sunk a decent amount of time into it over the last week or so. But the one design decision I absolutely cannot fathom is that, to play with friends in a group, you are force to pay for a FULL one-month subscription. What if you dont want any of the extra premium tanks, items or experience bonuses? Tough. And we’re not even talking clan-based stuff here, that I could understand. If you want to form a ‘platoon’, or a temporary group of up to 3 (?!) people, you must be a full premium member, and since the only current xp-giving mode is ‘random’ battles, to play with a friend you are forced to verbally sound off a “3… 2… 1…” on ventrilo, click the ‘Battle’ button at the same time, and pray you are randomly sorted into the same battle, and the same team. With 30,000 people playing simultaneously. Utterly, utterly rediculous.

    To be honest, the only free to play game I’ve ever consistently enjoyed is Quake Live, and thats only because… well, because its Quake 3.

  12. Coffeespoons says:

    Would you mind me asking where people snagged keys for the beta?

    • MrMud says:

      Beta is open. Just open the Games for Windows Marketplace (yea i know) and download it.

  13. roy7 says:

    Sadly no matter what I try (turning off all firewall/virus software, bypassing my router, etc) I cannot get GFWL to connect. So no AOEO, and no $1 AOE2 I bought on sale a while back. Just won’t work. :/

  14. Rii says:

    I’m only *watching* the game and the delayed UI response – courtesy of cutesy ‘pop’ effects – is vexing in the extreme.

    I’m always up for a morning quickie though.

  15. SirKicksalot says:

    What this game needs most is a save function. If you’re disconnected during a SP mission, you have to restart it.
    Other than that I like it a lot.

  16. omicron1 says:

    Well. I own every single game in the Age of Empires series to date (including having gone to some effort to acquire an original boxed copy of AoE 1), so I might well pick up the CD version… depending on what it comes with. I want a manual, Microsoft – a proper thick manual like the old games came with; and a tech tree foldout. And you might as well have the decency to throw in an artbook, too; maybe a soundtrack; or even a copy of AoE 1; it’s essentially the “collector’s edition.”

    But I do agree that the game’s a bit slow. All the units have (or at least had, when I played the beta seriously) more health, and deal less damage, at starting levels than in any Age game before, and the result is battles that take approximately 1.5 times as long to play out. Needless to say, this slows everything else down by a similar amount, and the result is a game that, while not plodding, is definitely less agile than I’d prefer.

    • jamesgecko says:

      It is a bit slow-paced. I’m not sure how much of that is to make it easier for casual gamers and how much of it is to mask lag. Possibly a bit of both.

  17. slick_101 says:

    just made me see the title “Age Of Empires” gave me that warm fuzzy feeling and well. I’ve now dug out the original age of empires and am installing it right now. I will most probably have to play the second one too.