Happy birthday, Age of Empires! The historical real-time strategy series turned 20 on Sunday, and the party was supposed to keep on rolling through to Thursday and the launch of launch of Age of Empires: Definitive Edition [official site]. Alas, the revamped and prettied-up release of the first game has been delayed at short notice. It’s now expected in “early 2018”. Sounds like one hold-up is a change of heart over quite how much to change. Remember, AoE: it’s your party and you can cry if you want to.
The Def Ed team explained in Friday’s announcement:
“The challenge of re-releasing a classic is just that: it’s a classic and it deserves to be treated with careful reverence. At the same time, in a living, thriving genre, norms continually evolve, technology advances, and player expectations change. This is as true for RTS as for any other genre. So, the challenge is to recreate the experience not as it *actually* was but as we all remember it. How can we modernize the game while preserving the fun, discovery and magic of that first experience?
“To that end, rather than a final release of Age of Empires: Definitive Edition on October 19, we will instead be inviting thousands more players from the community into our closed beta between now and launch to allow for more in-depth testing across single player campaign, multiplayer balance, fine-tuning the lobby, etc.”
I was there in the ’90s when Tony Robinson and Hugh Scully invented history and remember the nationwide giddiness at discovering some things were actually quite old. Time Team unearthed a trove of jazz mags suggesting England might date back as far as 1973, and Antiques Roadshow queues stretched around not just the block but entire cities as confused and terrified people demanded to know whether anything they owned — or anyone they knew! — was old. There was panic on the streets of London, panic on the streets of Birmingham. To see this newfangled ‘history’ represented in a video game was thrilling!
But times have changed, history has become humdrum, and we can see from The History Channel that people want something new. A suggestion for Def Ed devs Forgotten Empires: add UFOs, Agarthans, Bigfoot, and pawn shops as playable factions. Let’s get this history up to date.
Age of Empires Def Ed is now due some time in early 2018. For a truly modern take on history, which I’m sure will have all the cryptids and hot rod rebuilds we expect of history now, Age of Empires 4 is being made by Relic Entertainment, the studio behind Dawn of War and Company of Heroes.