Free4Free: Age Of Empires Online Beta

This is your “last chance” get on the Age Of Empires Online beta. You can do that, should you wish, by going to GFWM and hitting that “Add to Cart” button. Apparently it’s pretty good. That said, I believe it’s going to be free-to-play anyway, it’s not as if there’s any great rush to leap in for a free sample at this stage in proceedings.


  1. cliffski says:

    I used to love AOE, but making this ‘Free To Play’ puts me off.

    Because it’s not free is it?

    It’s going to depend on me buying stuff every 5 minutes to keep up, or to prevent it being tedious. So as a result, I’m unlikely to ever try it. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    Just charge a price to buy the game. We can all handle that concept, I’m sure.

    • Dominic White says:

      How about you actually try it before writing it off, like a grown-up! Make up your own mind, based on observations rather than gut feelings and off-hand dismissals.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I haven’t read anything about how the paid for content will work. But it could work if they keep it to only skins and the like. Though I do doubt they will.

    • D3xter says:

      I tried it to like Level5 or so (for now) and had a few missions that said I require a “Premium Version” to build that certain unit.
      What annoyed me to no end is that I had to install a ton of useless crap I don’t really want including some tool called “Windows Live ID”, the “Windows Live Marketplace” and whatnot and make several accounts including entering fake private information, getting a “Gamertag” and changing it etc. to get it to start in the first place… and believe it or not but Microsoft actually managed to make GFWL worse than last time I tried it (imo)…

    • Carra says:

      Free to play can work. I enjoy playing Die2Nite without paying and I don’t feel that the payers have such a big advantage.

      But I’m mostly bothered with the excessive costs. €12 to play die2nite for a month? I can buy me a WoW account for that. Make it €2 and I might be paying you for a few months.

    • Raniz says:

      What mostly bugs me about the freemium business model is that some people just read “free” and then start complaining when stuff costs money.

      Sure, “free to play” is misleading since you’re actually expected to spend some money when playing, but since we’re all adults here and the concept isn’t really that new, can’t we just ignore whatever name the publishers are using and accept that nothing meant to produce income will ever be completely free.

      Also, why can’t you just pay for the game while playing it instead of paying €30 up front for a game you don’t really know you’ll enjoy. Paying for premium stuff while enjoying the game sounds a lot better to me since you can end up paying less money if you don’t enjoy the game. Sure, you can end up paying a lot more money if you do enjoy the game, but if you do enjoy it and play it a lot it’ll be more or less the same as paying for any other MMO with a subscription fee – except that you can decide how much you spend on it each month.

      The freemium model is a nice idea since it lets you pay for the parts that enhances your experience, but I really don’t understand people that think they’re going to have the exact same experience as paying customers while not paying anything.
      Of course, everything depends on whether or not the developers did a good job when deciding what should be paid for when playing the game.

      Legends of Zork strike me as a good implementation of freemium; you can play the entire game for free if you want to, but you’re limited to a number of actions each day and if you want to play more or perhaps respec your character you’ll have to open up your wallet.

    • Melf_Himself says:

      Free to play can work fine if the developers have a soul. League of legends is nominally free to play. I tried it for free for a couple of weeks and have now spent, erm, a large sum of money on it because I was enjoying myself. Win for me, win for them. But the stuff you can buy does not make you more powerful, so, it all depends on the implementation.

  2. mojo says:

    apparently, zero moneys in my country is not enough to buy zero moneys games for windows live wants.

  3. Hunam says:

    I played quite a lot of it and I have to say it’s actually pretty fantastic. Really, really enjoyed it. Not sure how the pricing works yet though you do hit a cap I think unless you pay for something or another.

    • mejobloggs says:

      I’m liking it too!
      Still in the tutorial stage. So far it seems very similar to AOE2. Thought I’d be put off by cartoon graphics, but they look really nice
      Definitely going to play this more

      GFWM seems a lot more manageable than last time I used it. Experience went fairly smoothly this time

  4. Inigo says:

    going to GFWM

    Hahaha! No.

    • Caleb367 says:

      Second that.
      In my experience, GFWM sucked so bad I steer clear of everthing requiring that unbelievable piece of crap.

    • Wozzle says:

      Read title: Interested

      Read GFWL: Lost all interest

    • Novack says:

      Ditto here… Enough with having to stand the crappy, failure prone login in Warhammer 40k

  5. darthmajor says:

    If there’s a ‘cap’ it’s not free to play it’s free to demo >_>

    If it’s impossible to enjoy it for free in it’s entirety (hi LOTRO o/) it’s not free to play. I am angry still.

    I hope it’s actually free to play and fun, because holy crap regging for GFWLFMWF was a painful experience. Or sorry, i actually had to reg on XBOX LIVE. Yes. Thank you for that.

  6. deadstoned says:

    Tried it earlier and upon installation through the GFWM I got “Program Compatibility Assistant: This program might not have installed correctly”. And then it started “Not responding” It’s just useless.

  7. Out Reach says:

    YEY, you only had to bastardize my cherished childhood playing AoE and AoM to do it.

  8. Text_Fish says:

    I’ve been playing the beta for a month or two now. Haven’t had a single problem with GFWM and I’ve found the game itself very enjoyable and remarkably bug-free. Everything you experience in the beta (and more) will be freely available, so most AoE fans will find at least a few weeks of fun to be had before they even have to consider parting with any cash — and then they can make an informed opinion.

    My own opinion is that it’s not as good as AoE1 or 2, but it’s a huge improvement on Mythology and AoEIII, both of which were still fun games anyway.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I couldn’t get into AoEIII at all for some reason and I’m not quite sure why, possibly AoE fatigue. But Mythology is by far my favourite personally.

    • Text_Fish says:

      Gonzo, I agree that AoEIII is the worst in the series. I think its biggest problem was its overreliance on the campaign. I think most AoE players consider the campaigns to be a worthy slog to kill some time if they want a break from deathmatch and skirmish, but with such a tightly locked down trading route system and the whole homecity thing these aspects of the series were really slowed down. Thankfully in AoE:Online you never need to access your homecity during campaigns OR skirmishes (PvP I guess it will now be known as) and you’re nolonger limited to erecting specific buildings only on specific predesignated sites.

      Whilst Mythology was a lot of fun (helped tremendously by the Titans expansion) I think my opinion of it was jaded because I don’t think the move to 3D was ever necessary for the series.

  9. strange headache says:

    Couldn’t they just have made a decent remake of AoE II without that “Online free to play” shit? They could have just hired a talented indie studio, a couple of 2d pixel artists and come composers and go for it. But no, they chose to bastardize the single most greatest RTS in the world. BASTARDS!

    • Text_Fish says:

      Why not just go and play AoEII? None of its inferior sequels so far have made it unavailable, and nor will AoE Online.

    • Tams80 says:

      Text_Fish. Try playing it on Windows 7. Bloody purple water (still perfectly playable though).

    • Text_Fish says:

      I do Tams80. You’ve just got to disable the windows shell whilst you’re playing.

      The internet has the answer to all of lifes problems, Windows 7 related or not!

  10. Njordsk says:

    I so much wanted the REAL AoE 4

  11. ker0ton says:

    Ive been playing it for a month too and still haven’t encountered any moments like “Premium content only”, at least not important ones. I thought mixing AOE with MMORPG pie hunt is a horribly idea but it actually works amazingly well. I guess its not as good as AOE or AOE 2 stands but i find it a completely different experience.

    I recommend everyone to at least try it i found it very awesome, and still play it everyday.

  12. bitkari says:

    I must agree with the positive sentiment about this game.

    I’ve been playing for a while and thoroughly enjoyed it so far. Very clever blend of disparate game genres, and certainly this sort of thing is going to be copied a LOT once it releases.

    Should be even better when I’ve got a bunch of XBL/GfWL friends playing as well (co-op & PvP is a bit iffy with randoms right now…).

  13. patricij says:

    GFWM? No fuckin’ way…

  14. Synesthesia says:

    i miss COHO.

  15. MythArcana says:

    There’s no such thing as “free to play”. Let’s stop utilizing non-applicable terms and call it what it is; slow micro wallet-drain.

  16. Ridnarhtim says:

    I got to GFWM and stopped caring.

  17. wazups2x says:

    I wish Free2Play games would die.

    I wish they did a true AoE and not some F2P crap. I definitely won’t be playing this.

    • Xocrates says:

      “I wish Free2Play games would die.”

      I don’t.

      I wish they found better ways to get their revenue streams without crippling the players or spamming them with advertisements though.

  18. Dominic White says:

    Lot of big petulant children in this thread refusing to even look at the game because of the possibility of it maybe costing them some money at some point in the future.

    Grow the hell up, please. Try the beta. Actually judge it on its own merits, rather than immediately dismissing it because you’ve built up this terrifying picture in your head.

    • Vinraith says:

      It seems to me that “I don’t play micro-transaction based games, no matter how good they are otherwise” is a perfectly reasonable stance. I’m not sure why that should warrant personal insults.

    • Text_Fish says:

      Vinraith, I think his point is that it’s only a micro-transaction game if you choose to make micro-transactions, and up until the point at which you might be presented with such a terrifying choice there might actually be some free fun to be had.

      Something about a gift horse … (though secretly I’ve never understood that turn of phrase)

    • P7uen says:

      I agree with Dom, why would one complain about free to play?

      I’m not overjoyed by pay-to-win but there’s no need to assume all free to play games will be like that.

      If you would rather it was a subscription: pay for the full game.
      If you rather it was free minus the perks: don’t pay at all.
      If you rather it was totally free and the devs make no money: just shh.

      If you’re just venting misplaced anger that they ruined AoE2 then alright I’ll get in line.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I think his point is that it’s only a micro-transaction game if you choose to make micro-transactions

      Wrong, it’s a microtransaction game as soon as you’re up against another player who chooses to make micro-transactions. Or it’s a micro-transaction game as soon as you start some tedious section of play that’s only there to encourage you to pay money to make it go by faster.

      There are too many games out there to try every single one. Vinraith is correct: avoiding “Free to Play” is a perfectly reasonable heuristic. It’s also reasonable to make this heuristic public–so developers no what kinds of games you will or won’t buy.

    • Dominic White says:

      There are very few F2P games that I’d describe as ‘play to win’. The ones that are (Battlefield Heroes springs to mind) should be avoided, but you can see within maybe an hour of play that this is the case. I actually tried it, made up my own mind, and avoided it.

      I’m playing World of Tanks, though, and if you put money into that, it basically accelerates you through the tech-tiers. However, this is a double-edged sword, as the players that do things normally and learn the ins and outs of each tank are usually are better overall than the guy who buys his way ahead into the more experienced ranks.

      Again, actually LOOK at the damn thing before making up your mind. Children dismiss things without thought or consideration. I’d imagine most of you are over 20 – if that’s the case, you should be ashamed.

    • Consumatopia says:

      F2P games relying on a “pay to avoid tedium” model do not appeal to me any more than those relying on a “pay to pwn” model.

      Again, there are too many games out there to try every single one. It’s not “childish” to recognize this basic fact. It’s just obtuse for you to deny it.

      If someone whose opinion I trust claims that some F2P game is different from the vast majority of lame ones, I might try it out. Or if something looks really compelling about it, I’ll give it a look. But when I decide on which of the few games I have time to try out (relative to the number of released games), an F2P business model makes it far less likely I’ll even consider it. Sorry if that offends you.

    • remover says:

      It’s not micro-transactions and these sort of payment models that I have a problem with, it’s that the cost is always disproportionate to the costs of gaming as we’ve become accustomed to them. If you want “everything”, it’s going to cost you less to buy a full retail game with all the addons than some of these “F2P” games by a long shot.

    • MrMud says:

      It has to cost more as a large portion of the player base will never buy anything.
      Anyway I still think its mind boggling that no one has been able to do what riot does as that seems to be optimal way to handle micro transaction games.

  19. ker0ton says:

    I have to say that AOE at least in this beta phase doesn’t seem that much money grabbing, things that they ask money for will be mission packs, or some boosters and stuff you don’t really need (at least from what they told us). In reality we won’t know till the game is released.
    There are a lot of great f2p titles that really don’t require any money for things you will need in game. Like league of legends for example, its completely f2p, only thing you can buy there for money are custom made skins, which i bought to support the team for making it f2p.
    The bad examples are all the games that require money to enjoy that game, like f2p battlefield heroes, where before you could only buy skins with microtransactions, later you could (more like had to) buy upgraded weapons, better ammo etc. which ruined the game.

    This is also FIRST true MMORTS, Company of Heroes online was cool but it was COH with new interface, this is something that has never been done before.

  20. paulsoaresjr says:

    Had a regular weekly “Age of Kings” night with local buddies many years back. May have to give this a look. Does it have the voice taunts? “Nice town–I’ll take it!”

  21. DCCTV says:

    Exactly bitbot, that’s why I use noclip on every single player game I have ever played. I mean, why should I have to sit through reload animations, cut scenes, gameplay, etc. I should be able to buy a game and see the ending immediately instead of waiting for some “animation” to finish (aka, the game).

  22. Laephis says:

    The art design and direction of this game is a big turn-off for me, especially compared to previous AoE games.

  23. SwiftRanger says:

    It sure has its flaws but nonetheless AoEO is one of the most exciting RTS experiments in development and maybe the first to actually crack the MMORTS wording. They’re offering a bit of everything and that’s the way to go imo. It’s also very retro in a way that it still remains fun, unlike SCII imo.

    Also, the art style really grows on you (oh that donkey trader), it’s hilarious and effective.

    About micro-transactions: there aren’t any options to buy items/gear separately, there are just booster packs, of which the prices haven’t been revealed yet. It can get sketchy in PvP (the least exciting mode so far) but for anyting else there is still a huge amount of content. Huge. For free.

    And if this becomes a success then hopefully GPG can get enough funding for Kings and Castles.

  24. Towercap says:

    I played all previous AoE titles and found AoE:O to be very enjoyable. Just made it to level 10. I’ll definitely end up paying for some of the content — starting with the Egyptians.

  25. kennycrown says:

    Free, is no fun

    Living life strategically flashlight and wisely is required in order to ease all the inconvenient circumstances. Whether you are in office or somewhere else, flash light you need to be witty enough to tackle any awkward situation. Science and technology gifted us some highly improved and innovative bright torches systems and devices. Flashlight is one such gadget that helped us to deal with darkness. The other name of this device is emergency light. Traditional flashlight differs from the contemporary ones. One of the remarkable changes that have been made in the modern flashlight is the use of rechargeable battery. Using a rechargeable flashlight can prove to be beneficial in the long run. It is cost-effective. There are a number of companies that offer rechargeable flashlights. Flashlights of Xenon are quite popular. It uses Xenon battery. It has the same benefit as incandescent and led bulbs have. Due to the presence of the Xenon gas, the Xenon bulbs are more effective and durable than other bulbs. They also have the brightness and penetrating ability of incandescent bulbs.