Bigger And Huger – Rise Of Nations: Extended Edition

By Nathan Grayson on June 2nd, 2014 at 9:00 am.

Noooooo, my polo game!

It’s been ages since I played Rise of Nations, but my memories – admittedly not adjusted for the ye moderne days of nowe – tell me it was fantastic, beautifully expansive RTS. Back in those days, Big Huge Games a) existed and b) made brilliant strategies instead of sprawling fantasy RPGs that tried their best only to get chewed up and spat out by the ugly gears of the gaming industry. And Rhode Island. Rise of Nations: Extended Edition is being handled by Skybox, the same folks who brought us Age of Mythology: Extended Edition, which Alec liked quite well. The feature set is similar, too: better graphics, Steamworks integration, Twitch support, etc.

Well that sure was a gameplay-free trailer of a game that’s had gameplay footage readily available since 2003, but I digress. In addition to Rise of Nations proper, you’ll also be getting the Thrones and Patriots expansion, which brings new nations, governments, and campaigns to the ages-spanning dance.

But what, exactly, is extended about that? Nothing, honestly. So here’s the new stuff:

  • Improved Visuals
    • Improved water
    • Improved textures
    • Full-screen anti-aliasing
  • Full Steamworks Integration
    • Multiplayer with ranked matches (ELO)
    • Achievements
    • Trading Cards
    • Cloud saves
  • Extended Features
    • Twitch Integration

Rise of Nations: Extended Edition will be out on Steam next month. Does that information get a rise out of you? Or have your tastes since become too civilized for strategy from Barbarian Year 2003?

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Top comments

  1. Kollega says:

    Does anyone remember the sequel to this, Rise of Legends? Its take on aesthetics of steampunk, Arabian tales, and Mesoamerican empires was by all accounts pretty brliiant, and the gameplay wasn’t too shabby either. I still have a box right here, though I haven’t played it in a while.

  1. Fullforce says:

    While I’m obviously really happy that RoN is getting a re-release, I’m disappointed it’s not on Mac. Since OSX Lion PowerPC support has been removed from Mac OS, so you can’t play RoN at all. And RoN is the perfect low-power Macbook game.

    But like Age of Empires HD, this isn’t on Mac. Sad times. Oh well, still preordered for my Windows PC…

    • Tom De Roeck says:

      No, you mean it isnt available for a mac thats atleast 7-8 years old.

      Also, there are great windows game environments for OSX Intel thatll run the game just fine.

    • Barchester says:

      Shouldn’t have bought a Mac for gaming then, eh? ;)

      Seriously though, I don’t see the point in complaining. When you buy a Mac, you know full well and in advance that lots and lots of games aren’t compatible. Stop complaining abou it already. And as Tom De Roeck already said, there are workarounds.

      • Lemming says:

        It’s really not unreasonable for the guy to have hoped that a re-release of an old game on Steamworks would involve cross-play therein. Think it through before you browbeat the gentleman.

        I play on Windows, and I think Mac/Linux cross-play is a missed opportunity here. Window PC players have less reasons to want a re-release of a game they probably already have over some that never had it on their platform of choice. Look how AoE: HD was received.

        • Tom De Roeck says:

          no, he said POWERPC, which are the macs before they turned Intel, ie. pre-2007. Hes not hoping for crossplatform play, hes hoping for pre-OS X 10.4 play.

          • Erinduck says:

            No he’s not. OSX used to have an emulation layer called “Rosetta” that would allow you to run PPC apps on Intel hardware. He’s saying that he wishes there was an OSX port so he could play it again.

            At least read the comment.

          • Tom De Roeck says:

            Could have meant either. He didnt specifiy if he was talking about the extended version or the original one.

            Either way, Im sure they will release the extended editions for OS X given time.

          • aldo_14 says:

            I have doubts there will be a Mac version if Microsoft are still the publisher (although I’m confused on that exact front, given the purchasing and selling of rights…).

      • Fullforce says:

        I wouldn’t say I’m complaining, I’m more disappointed.

        And in case you didn’t see it, I did mention ‘Windows PC’ in there – I own a PC purely for gaming. I never bought my Macbook to play games on – it’s an Air, it’s not exactly designed for gaming. However, in the case of RoN, which is an incredibly low-power game, it’s a perfect fit alongside OpenTTD, Rimworld, etc on my Air, perfect for train journeys. (Although in the same breath I can just as easily play CS:GO and The Walking Dead.)

        The prevalence of crossplay/steamplay games is a fantastic movement. It’s rarer now to have a game just on PC, and to have a game that was on OSX back in the day remade and not ported is a huge disappointment. This isn’t a port, it’s a remake, so PowerPC limitations don’t apply. It’s just Microsoft holding back, like they did with AoE2 HD.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      You might look into PearPC (PowerPC emulator), or something like WineBottler to run the Windows version without a full OS.

  2. milton says:

    Have some good memories of this game. It’s a lot of fun but the nuke age gets really out of hand, it’s just craziness, surprisingly not because of the nukes though.

    The way they handle early aggression is very interesting, though turning on your friends was potentially a little easy.

    Biggest qualm with this game was that ‘old civs’ tended to get a lot of generic units in the modern age because some civs just didn’t get to the modern age. It meant that you only got a fun time in each civ’s golden age and then everything quickly became plain and generic after that

  3. thristhart says:

    Rise of Nations was by far my favorite RTS of all time, and still the one I compare all others to. It’s not actually very good after like ten or so hours to play, but I loved it to pieces. Worth buying again just for steamworks integration, assuming that includes functional multiplayer.

    • Gap Gen says:

      It was certainly one of the best designed RTSs of its time. The unit automation just made so much sense that games after it felt horrible; I just couldn’t play AoE3, it felt so broken in comparison.

      • Jesrad says:

        Agreed. The game added so many great concepts to the RTS genre – organic borders, attrition, numbers of cities and maximum economic rates controlled by research, and most importantly the automated workers so you didn’t have to manage hundreds of army ants while you played with your war toys.

        The AOE and Warcraft/Starcraft games didn’t have this which made them unplayable for me. That the whole genre died shortly thereafter because idiot developers decided they had to make doomed wowclones instead is so sad.

    • Frank says:

      Yup, I feel the same way about it. My favorite RTS, just recently reinstalled, but can’t be bothered to actually play through a full CtW campaign again.

      As a strategy game, it’s a ton better than RoN: RoLegends, which had very closed maps and a broken meta layer in the campaign (where conquering every territory took priority over taking down the enemy), but damn if that game didn’t have the coolest units.

  4. RedViv says:

    I need to prepare an evacuation plan for my immediate surroundings in anticipation of the announcement AFTER this one. In a few weeks, I guess, going by the current incredible speed at which they pump these out.

  5. Kollega says:

    Does anyone remember the sequel to this, Rise of Legends? Its take on aesthetics of steampunk, Arabian tales, and Mesoamerican empires was by all accounts pretty brliiant, and the gameplay wasn’t too shabby either. I still have a box right here, though I haven’t played it in a while.

    • RedViv says:

      That’s a weird way to spell “greatest RTS in the world ever”.

      • LuNatic says:

        I dunno man. I loved the concept, and the art and the music score was hands down the best I’ve ever heard in a game, but the execution was somewhat… poor.

        • RedViv says:

          Oh you are free to think that. People often mistake me to mean totally best when I only state that is so very grand and great.

          • deniedoperative says:

            Oh my goodness, I loved Rise of Legends. I always thought the Vinci were a little overpowered though. I remember the campaign with fondness. Giacomo! Petruzzo! etc.

    • GenBanks says:

      I was upset that you couldn’t freely place your cities… Didn’t have the sandbox feeling like RoN had. I agree the setting was awesome and creative though.

  6. jld89 says:

    This is one of the best (if not the best) RTS I’ve ever played. Out on 2004, I still play it. The whole multiplayer community of this game is vibrating with expectation. Can’t wait!

  7. Crainey says:

    I remember having a lot of fun playing this game with friends in my high-school years. The nuke/missile shield rush and bunkered wall-fests. Building Alcatraz on island maps. It has some cracking attrition warfare. Good times. I also remember trying this game out again at a LAN recently and it just wasn’t there anymore, it didn’t age well imho. Perhaps this will rekindle the spirit of the game. This reminds me I still need to try that AoE rerelease.

    • GenBanks says:

      Same!
      Our small scale LAN parties at boarding school would usually be either Rise of Nations, Civ 3 or C&C Generals.

      Going for Artificial Intelligence for instant training times and then binding barracks or whatever to number keys allowing for launching gigantic cruise missile barrages is the main thing I remember…

  8. Phantom_Renegade says:

    Mythology was a great game, but their extended edition didn’t seem to extend much of anything. The biggest offender was unit selection, as in the amount of units I could select at the same time was still limited which for an RTS released now is ridiculous. I know all about the banners and the hotkeys and whatever but there are times when you want to quickly move an army from one place to another and having part of it left behind does not help. I already own Rise of Nations and it still works, and since the graphical bump seems minimal I’ll pass on paying full price. Maybe next year in a steam sale or something when it’s 5-7.5.

  9. GenBanks says:

    I got pretty excited when I saw this on Steam. Now we just need Sid Meier’s Gettysburg to get a restoration and most of my top childhood games will be covered… So many elements of RoN which I thought at the time should become fundamental crucial features of all RTS games!

    Especially the dynamic border shifting, and the need to have a supply wagon and general escort your armies into enemy territory… So simple and elegant. The way you managed your civilian economy had lots of nice touches too: workers got busy with stuff on their own, the civ style approach to resources (in that they don’t disappear off the map) and the focus on resource collection rates rather than just the absolute amounts you have.

  10. Shadow says:

    My biggest gripe with Rise of Nations was that units had noticeably few animation frames. It was particularly apparent on foot soldiers, and it always ground my gears. It was unrelated to performance: it was like that by design, as I tested over the years. Empire Earth was an older game and still had smoother, more fluid unit animations than RoN.

    I might consider getting this “extended” edition if they fix that and bring the game properly into the 21st century. But I’m always skeptical about these nominally improved remakes: they churn ‘em out way too fast and price them way too highly for them to not feel like cashgrabs feeding off nostalgia. I could care less about most of the “features”, but I suppose they can’t put a pricetag of 20 dollars on it with a straight face without at least creating the illusion something in it is significantly new.

  11. marmite says:

    Are there any before/after comparison screenshots to show off the “improved visuals”?

    • aldo_14 says:

      Normally means ‘higher resolution support’, doesn’t it? With a new water shader and some sharpened textures. So not much that’s noticable.

      I love(d) RoN, and still have the CD somewhere… although not the expansion. Still, 11 quid is a bit much for me.

      • Vinraith says:

        It’s noteworthy that the original game supports high resolutions and wide-screen just fine on its own (been playing the CD version again lately), so in this case it’s pretty much some new textures and that’s it.

        • LionsPhil says:

          And presumably swapping out something like SecuROM for Steamworks, for those who care about such things. (And the Steamworks sugar-coatings, like joining games by clicking on your friends.)

          I remember the demo of this, but for some reason never bought it. So might do so this time, if they don’t screw it up.

          • Vinraith says:

            The original had a pretty straightforward disc check, no SecuROM as I recall. My real concern is that in replacing Gamespy with Steam, they’ll remove the “direct ip connect” option. Well, that and that they might wreck the performance, which is apparently what happened with the Age of Mythology remake.

  12. HadToLogin says:

    Remember how MS said “PC support”? Well, they finally release games on PC.

  13. BooleanBob says:

    I played this for the first time recently after reading a lot of good things about it, but I was pretty disappointed with what I found. It was a straight, almost cynical splicing of Age of Empires and Civ, which of course sounds amazing but really just plays out as a dry and not-at-all-interesting series of incremental progressions – through the tech tree and across the map – that ends with you training all your production facilities’ rendevous points on the enemy capital and making sure that a) your build queues stay topped up and b) that you don’t pass out on the keyboard before your inevitable victory arrives.

    Maybe the problem was that I was only playing against a rather soft AI and not against real, thinking meatbags.

  14. Vinraith says:

    RoN is my favorite base-building RTS of all time, so I almost pre-ordered this reflexively. Then I read about the massive performance and multiplayer problems with the Age of Mythology remake and stopped. I think I’ll have to wait for word of mouth on this one. I adore the game, but my disc copy still works just fine…

  15. rocketman71 says:

    Is LAN still in?.

    Guess not, I’ll keep playing my old version, thank you very much.

    It seems MS didn’t learn from AOE2Gold.

  16. benkc says:

    Does the campaign still only have one map? I liked the campaign in concept, but only having the one map to play it on didn’t help with replayability.

    • Vinraith says:

      There were 5 very different dynamic campaigns in the gold version (the expansion added 4). There are also numerous mods that add/alter campaign maps, though I’ve no idea what their compatibility would be with this new release.

  17. HisDivineOrder says:

    Really wish Microsoft would just announce a partnership with Valve to fully integrate Steam into Windows. No need to make it exclusive, but making it just built into the OS would save us all a little time. ;)

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