A New Age: Empires Apart Coming 2017

Empires Apart [official site] is an upcoming RTS that “wants to be Age of Empires at heart”, say Slitherine, who have just announced that they’ll be publishing DESTINYbit’s game when it’s ready for release in the second half of 2017. I hadn’t heard of the title until today, so I’ve been digging through old development video blogs like a digital archaeologist. You can see the three videos produced to date below, as well as an announcement trailer.

Initially, I thought combat might take place on tiny fragments of land, like the shots in the trailer, but it’s much more conventional than that. In fact, judging by the development videos and the statement that “its goal is to re-capture the excitement and wonder of collecting resources, building an army and leading it to victory”, it’s best to assume that Empires Apart will be a set of solid ideas rather than surprises.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind. If Empires Apart can relive the glory days of Age of Empires but bring the kind of UI improvements that the developers are talking about in these videos, I’ll bite.

Here are those videos:

These videos date back to last year but hopefully we’ll see more of the game soon now that Slitherine are on board. Here’s the publisher’s development director Iain McNeil on what he hopes for from Empires Apart:

“Age of Empires is a great game and there has been very little in that genre for the fans to play over the last few years. Multiplayer is especially difficult even in the HD version. There is a real gap in the market which DESTINYbit identified and we’re pleased to be working with this talented team. It keeps true to everything that made Age of Empires great but also has some great new ideas we think will keep the community happy for another 10 years.”

The website still states the game will be coming out in late 2016 but Slitherine reckon we’ll be waiting until midway through next year for the release, so keep an eye out for updates.

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7 Comments

  1. Phantom_Renegade says:

    They’ll have to work on those graphics quite a bit, but I’ll definitely be following this with interest. Age of Mythology remains my favorite RTS of all times.

    • eightohnine says:

      I was actually thinking quite the opposite.

      For one, I personally love that stylistic low-poly look and would be more than happy to play the game with it. After all, it already manages to get the message across. Units are distinct and resources obvious. Sure, ramp up the world decoration object density a little, add subtle animations and some noise variations and you’re good to go.

      Second, imho trying to achieve high visual fidelity is one of the biggest pitfalls for small/indie dev teams. Developing a visual style and creating the graphics is immensely resource-intensive and thus I think being smart about a functional and achievable art style can save the team a lot of headache and frustration.

      As always, neato graphics will not pull out shitty gameplay. So getting the priorities straight is key.

      • visor841 says:

        Distinctive units will make it easier for beginners, as well. As someone who only occasionally plays AOEII with friends, telling the units apart is way more of a struggle that it needs to be.

      • Mig says:

        Are you one of the developers? Maybe I’m wrong (excuse me if I am!), but you do sound like a developer defending his/her design choice and not like a player.

        Anyway, if the purpose is to play on nostalgia, I think the game graphics should remind people more of that classic AoE look, average people wont look at these stylized graphics and think of AoE. They may like it for different reasons though.

        • eightohnine says:

          I’m not one of the devs, heard about the game for the first time roughly 15 minutes before I posted my initial comment.

          I’m not saying I’m right, either. It’s just one of those endless discussions amongst gamers. Gameplay over graphics vs. graphics over gameplay. In an ideal world both parts are unified in a game, but very few dev teams actually manage to pull that off. So they prioritise one side over the other. And here my personal stance is to always first make sure that the gameplay is sound.

          Btw, from the dev logs I really couldn’t tell if EA is actually any fun to play yet, or ever going to be. Currently they’re developing core systems but the challenge is to bind those together into an enjoyable whole. Obviously they’re trying to capture that AoE feel of yesteryear. But to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure if that formula still holds up today, if they try to port it to closely. So I hope they’re going to make smart decisions gameplay wise (as they are doing with the interface) and only bring the good parts along. It surely won’t suffice to highlight one side blue and the other red. Or have a unit chant “Wololo”.

        • PseudoKnight says:

          I found his opinion consistent with my own. I like good polygonal art. I think detail is going to be overrated in an RTS. In fact, the camera in these videos is a little too close, and farther away the style and distinct shapes are going to be more practical. If I had any criticism I’d say the landscape is way too washed out (common in modern graphics). One of the things I appreciated with AoEII was the bright colorful art with the sun high in the sky. It makes it far more pleasant to play for many hours and easier to distinguish units. As long as they can make it feel like a place and a battle, then the fidelity matters much less. I also don’t like how all the resources look like irregular spheres, even the tree tops. Don’t like those trees. I hope their other landscapes have better trees.

  2. G-Lord says:

    Thanks for putting that on my radar. The other similar project that I’ve been following is 0 A.D. which is free to download:
    link to play0ad.com