Age Of Empires II HD Advancing To The Steam Age

By Nathan Grayson on March 8th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

These aren't your father's textures. And who does he think he is, trying to lay claim to them anyway?

The Age of Empires series has seen better days. Days like the year 1999, for instance. That’s when Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings charged onto the itsy-bitsy adowwwwable killing fields, and oh what a grand thing it was. It even looked quite nice for the time, eschewing 3D razzle-dazzle in favor of goode ye-olde-fashioned sprites. Times, however, have changed, and monitors have grown wide and voracious in their appetites for tender, succulent resolutions. Thus, Microsoft’s deemed it high-time for a re-release, on that newfangled, installation-frisbee-free Steam contraption that’ll probably never catch on, no less. Graphics, however, aren’t the only thing getting a modern makeover here.

The new version heralds from Defense Grid developer Hidden Path, and it comes with more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick covered in bells and whistles at:

“In Age of Empires II: HD Edition, fans of the original game and new players alike will fall in love with the classic Age of Empires II experience. Explore all the original single player campaigns from both Age of Kings and The Conquerors expansion, choose from 18 civilizations spanning over a thousand years of history, and head online to challenge other Steam players in your quest for world domination throughout the ages.”

There’s also multi-monitor support for those of you who profusely bleed LCD screens when nicked by particularly resilient twigs and – perhaps most excitingly – full Steam Workshop support. Download all the Westeros maps!

It’s coming to Steam on April 9th for a fairly reasonable sum of $20. Admittedly, you can probably buy the original and mod it into looking better for less, but the convenience of this package is nice, and it’ll be excellent to have more than a decade’s worth of user-created content under one umbrella. Now then, fondest memory of AOE II: go!

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101 Comments »

  1. DanPryce says:

    VERY interesting that Microsoft are launching this exclusively on Steam. Have they finally given up on GfWL?

    EDIT: Spelling fixed. Dunce.

    • mrwonko says:

      I would think we have Hidden Path to thank for that, but who knows?

    • DrScuttles says:

      We can only hope. That they sold their Microsoft Studios pack with Deadlight, Mark Of The Ninja and a few others for dirt cheap on Amazon as Steam keys without the malodorous spectre of GFWL hanging over them furthers this possibility.

      • frymaster says:

        for any game that is also being released on the xbox, the developers have to code achievements and social aspects using that system on the console, so they have good reasons to also use it on the PC. For PC exclusive games, it’s more of an unencumbered choice

    • Cinek says:

      I REALLY hope it won’t be exclusive to steam.

      • neonordnance says:

        Really? There are still people in the world who are butthurt about Steam?

        Stop bitching and join us, buddy. You’ll thank us.

        • frightlever says:

          one of us, one of us!

        • Lars Westergren says:

          That’s not a very constructive answer… I like Steam and have hundreds of games on it, but there is no guarantee that they will always remain a benevolent dictator. They already wield a little too much power over my gaming habits for my liking.

          • dE says:

            That and I’m affraid how their Steambox Adventures will fare. I just hope they don’t blow too much money on it. A hardware idea, without a conceivable target audience, reeks off uDraw to be honest.

        • Prime says:

          It’s not ‘butthurt’, you dismissive oaf. It’s sensible, reasoned dislike.

          • Elevory says:

            Yeah? You managed to extrapolate his reasons from that one sentence?

          • Prime says:

            Forgive me, I should have been clearer. *I* dislike Steam. I was trying to support Cinek by saying that there’s nothing wrong with disliking Steam. I kinda reacted badly to the word ‘butthurt’ because it’s essentially meaningless, being used most often simply to attack/dismiss those with any opinion a person doesn’t agree with. Just makes me want to swat people who use it.

        • Arkh says:

          That’s a funny thing. People aren’t allowed to not like or have a negative opinion on something without being labeled as “bitching”, “entitled” or “hipster”.

          When EA makes SImCity Origin exclusive, that’s a bad thing. When someone makes a game Steam exclusive, that’s a good thing for everybody. Hypocrisy.

        • nemryn says:

          I don’t get it. Is there some reason why not being an exclusive is a bad thing?

      • Lemming says:

        Well, I think you’re shit out of luck. Why else would they promote the Steam Workshop?

    • Suits says:

      They aren’t exactly pushing it for Windows 8 either

  2. BTAxis says:

    People DO seem hellbent on putting Westeros into anything they can, don’t they?

  3. Gap Gen says:

    I realised eventually that finding out about the HD graphics in a tiny embedded YouTube video might not be the smartest way to absorb information.

  4. inertia says:

    building massive fortresses of death for multiple instances of the highest-difficulty AI to throw itself against. Just sit back and watch.

    • Arkh says:

      That’s what I did back in the day, until I realized I was playing it wrong. You are not suppose to make castles in the age of empires, you are supposed to spam warriors as fast as you can to kill your enemies.

    • Adekan says:

      I used to spend months meticulously creating custom scenarios which were essentially tower defense maps. The only limit to my imagination was my early 2000s processor being unable to handle large amounts of troops without 5 minute lockups and single digit FPS. I am sold.

  5. RaveTurned says:

    Soon, Rise of Nations HD? Maybe? Please?

  6. JoeGuy says:

    This is the game that had me pretending to be sick in primary school just to play it on the family computer lol. I’m afraid what it will do to my College work now :-/

    BTW, will it have 1440p support? I’ve been looking into those Korean screens, it would be nice to upgrade and not be back in the same stretched screen scenario anyway.

    • MistaJah says:

      If it supports 1080p, any custom resolution above that should be okay too. The HD means they’ve made the UI scale with modern resolutions.

      • innociv says:

        It appears it only supports 16:9 up to 1920:1080 and you’ll have to play anything else in windowed, which is incrediably sad and the only reason I haven’t bought it yet.

  7. Citrus says:

    Finally, achievements. Thank you Steam/Valve/Tap.

  8. KlaxXxon says:

    Please, let it have LAN mode!

    • deadly.by.design says:

      I sure hope so.

      That way can relive the glorious 5-hour game that occurred at a 2008 lan party. (except maybe this time we’ll be smart enough to skip the first 2.5 hours and start off in the last age)

    • ScubaMonster says:

      I really am surprised why people value the addition of LAN play so much. It was great when the internet sucked and everybody had dialup modems, but things have advanced so much I don’t see any reason for it at all. With voice chat and broadband, sitting in the same physical space really isn’t a big deal.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        It’s you people who are responsible for the death of LAN parties. We used to have no trouble getting 30-50 people for a LAN, but it just doesn’t happen anymore. The point of a LAN isn’t that you have low latency, and hasn’t been for about a decade. It’s just roaring good fun to actually be social with the people in your game. Did that guy just make an amazing frag on you? Yell at him! Trying to coordinate a super secret rush in 4v4 Starcraft? Try using hand signals so the other guys can’t hear you! And when was the last time you went out and got drunk with the people you were on TeamSpeak with after a great game?

      • smokeyknuckles says:

        ScubaMonster,

        I registered just to comment on HOW WRONG you are. LAN parties are still a great way to get together in person to socialize with people who enjoy gaming like you do. My group of about 12 get together every couple months and have a blast. I’ve been online gaming since Doom in the 90s on dial-up and I’m telling you from almost 20 years of online/LAN gaming experience both are fun but LAN play destroys online for overall funfactor IMHO.

        By the way how does a game having the LAN feature hurt you? Wouldn’t you want that traditional PC gaming feature there just in case? It doesn’t add any cost to the game so why allow the devs to shortchange us?

        Attend a “good” LAN party and see for yourself.

  9. Rian Snuff says:

    DUDE, that’s the best thing ever! And it’s oddly on steam! (Which I love, okay!)
    My favorite RTS of all time. Workshop, HD support.

    Yea, I’ll pay 20 bucks for this.

  10. Artista says:

    This is great news. Also, look at that menu. I’m glad they didn’t change it to something fancy and pretty and HD. It works, it’s fast, no BS.

  11. GenBanks says:

    When I would play Age of Empires 2 in school what made it great was that nobody was that good at it… We had only ever played multiplayer with each other. Nowadays, when I play other RTS games (Company of Heroes for example), the experience is much more intense, I’m trying not to make any mistakes and I’m constantly in a frantic rush with maximum concentration.

    I wonder whether I will be able to rekindle the ‘casual’ multiplayer feelings I had playing this with friends.

    • zachforrest says:

      this is my memory too. It never occurred to us to do anything other than build attractive, sprawling towns and attack only when we had armies compromised of 200 of the most glamorous units

      • GenBanks says:

        Haha exactly! I’m glad I’m not the only one.

      • infernalmachine says:

        Lol I remember I would try to build a gigantic city with a network of walls for no other reason than to have a cool city. The joys of childhood…

      • Tams80 says:

        Your city has to look magnificent and be masterly planned before you can anything else. You can only cut down trees that won’t add to this. Your best units must not die. Everything must be perfect.

      • JFS says:

        Absolutely, man, absolutely.

      • Leon says:

        I always got sad when I played online and everyone had hideous, utilitarian bases. Nobody respected the need for a separate, walled Archer’s Quarter or the fact that every barracks needed an attendant blacksmith! For hauberks and rivets and bolt-tips and miscellany!

  12. Surlywombat says:

    Used to play a lot of this online back in the day with a group of friends.

    It had the wonderful ability to add extra taunts via .wav files, if everyone used the same pack, you would all hear the same sounds. I used to play this to the sounds of Graham Chapman shouting “Bloody Peasants!”, Homer “Doh!”s and Rimmer announcing he “We attack tomorrow under cover of daylight.”

    I do hope that is staying in.

  13. Text_Fish says:

    Wololooooooo

  14. fiddlesticks says:

    This news made me look up whether AoKHeaven still exists and sure enough it does. Can’t wait to replay all those great custom campaigns in glorious HD.

  15. RedViv says:

    Til bardaga!

  16. O-2-L says:

    Just bought it.
    This made my day

  17. FTC says:

    11
    11
    11
    11
    11
    11
    11
    11
    11
    11

    Anyway…
    Will probably buy it, lost my old cd a long time ago, hell, I don’t even have a cd reader anymore, and having it on steam is better than having to pirate it every time we decide to have a aoe lan :D
    Actually, will I be able to play against people that have the “original” game?

  18. McDan says:

    Well seeing as we in my uni house are scumbags we all have pirated (sorry) copies and have been laying it for the last two years at least once a week. With many, many games lasting 8 hours or so from 5 in the afternoon to well past midnight. Most of them ending with alliances shattered, hearts broekn and backs stabbed multiple times.

    My fondest memory would be my entire civilisation lost apart from the strongest (and only) fleet in the game left with a couple of transpost ships if workers in a large sea. Attempting to get ashore to start a new base every so often but that ending with it being swamped by everyone that was left. Needless to say people got bored/annoyed and gave up after failing to destroy my fleet so I won by default! The sweetest of wins.

  19. Atic Atac says:

    Can Rise of Nations please come to Steam now?

  20. SuicideKing says:

    YES!
    I WANTS IT
    I NEEDS IT

    have the original too but have to do a few workarounds to get it working properly on win 7. Or maybe use dosbox.

    but i want to play multiplayer.

    IS IT JUST ME OR ARE THE 90′S REPEATING THEMSELVES THIS DECADE?
    Well, i’m not complaining.

    The decade of the PC. Again :)

  21. Blodyavenger says:

    I hope there will be increased population limit, 200 is not enough.

  22. Magnusm1 says:

    Dear everyone:
    Buy this.

  23. Berzee says:

    “Advancing to the Steam Age” — well done.

  24. Ysellian says:

    Finally :) I hope this revitalizes the online community.

  25. fish99 says:

    I still have my AoK original, but the game developed a crashing problem about 5 years ago which has rendered it unplayable ever since sadly. Maybe a multi-core CPU thing I dunno. I’ll probably pick this up then.

    It’s one of the best RTS games ever made though. There’s only really SupCom:FA that’s comes close to rivaling it since, which is pretty sad really.

    Also……Elite Longbowmen FTW !!!

  26. cw8 says:

    Hope it comes to GoG.

    • Vinraith says:

      Me too. It seems silly to buy a game this old with more DRM than the original disc version I have on the shelf.

      I’d like to see a lot of old MS games on GOG, really, from Rise of Nations to Freelancer. Someone should get on that!

      • kud13 says:

        +1 to that.

        I want AoE2 on GOG.I want AoM on GOG. I want Freelancer on GOG.

        but most of all, I want Monster Truck Madness on GOG.Simply because it was my first ever 3D PC game.

        AoK HD is great news, but I hope they make it compatible with all the old content. I’ve been on an RTS binge, playing through a bunch of Empire Earth custom campaighs/Scenarios, and I was planning to then expose myself to the wealth of custom content for AoK. I relaly hope it won’t all be made instantaneously obsolete by this HD remake.

  27. InsanityBringer says:

    Really excited about this. I love this game, but even on my older Windows XP machine it’s a pain to make AoE2 run right, and not having native resolution kind of sucks on lcds (especially with the dithering patterns they used for the fog of war)

    Only thing I fear about this is because it’s steam only it might be much harder to essentially pass the disc around for family lan parties. meh

  28. Cytrom says:

    I think I understand now why the RTS genre is (supposedly) struggling nowadays… because there aren’t any good ones released.

    But then again the FPS market seems to thrive on the same practice.. new theory: RTS-es aren’t retard proof and shiny enough… besides not being many good ones to begin with.

  29. Tams80 says:

    Memories eh?

    Taking the game manual to school.

    I don’t think I’ll buy it though, as I’m trying to avoid Steam as much as possible and as you say, you will probably be able to do everything but the multiplayer better with the original.

  30. Paedric says:

    I wonder what those tweaks are, any info on that?
    My wishes would be the ability to train units in every building selected (in the original version, if you select 10 stables and build a unit, it will only build it in one stable), and a better AI, especially in late games.

  31. piccolo113 says:

    It’s actually really sad that people are going to buy this at this price point. One could head over to my local Walmart or Fred Meyer and pick up the Age of Empires Gold/Age of Empires 2+expansion combo pack for $10. Total. In fact, I already have.

    The *only* thing this release on Steam offers is the ability to play online outside of the (likely now dead) MSN Gaming Zone without having to play LAN. The “improved visual engine”? Yeah, that’s a line of BS. All they did was tweak the engine to allow higher resolutions. Nothing more.

    • Arkh says:

      You can play online with Hamachi, and I bet it is better than that old MSN service.

      • piccolo113 says:

        I totally forgot about that (as I’ve never had need to use it, but still). This is literally offering nothing more than Steam connectivity. I don’t usually like to be so negative about games I like, but cash grabs like this bug me. Minimal effort, maximum profit. That seems to be all anybody cares for anymore.

        If they wanted to have a true AoEII HD, they should have gone in and completely re-made all the sprites and landscapes in actual higher resolution. THAT, maybe, I could see being worth buying. Maybe.

      • inch7706 says:

        Try GameRanger instead. Hamachi limits to 4 people now.

  32. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    It doesn’t look very HD for an HD remake, but that’s okay. Despite being sprite-based, AoE II is still gorgeous. As long as it gets the GoG treatment and works in widescreen without stretching, doesn’t connect with IPX, and doesn’t demand I use the CD that’s a few thousand miles from my apartment right now, I am sold.

  33. walldad says:

    I really hope this supports Forgotten Empires. Actually FE supports “HD” modes as well, and it’s a pretty effin cool addition to the game. Also people regularly play this on GameRanger still. Not kidding.

    You all want & need this mod: http://www.forgottenempires.net/

    • inch7706 says:

      I was going to say the exact same thing. Forgotten Empires is the newest “expansion”, with 5 new civs, a lot of game tweaks (unit building scattered across all selected structures), 1000 max pop limit, and much higher resolution settings. I haven’t seen a SINGLE other person mention this on this site.

      I’m actually not excited at all about an “HD” remake. How can you make a game with such simple graphics in the first place look better? $20 for a bunch of new 2D sprites? no thanks.

      Also there is online play through GameRanger. Pretty simple setup too.

  34. SuicideKing says:

    AoE 2 HD: Official Gameplay vid.

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