In another time and place, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition would be the easiest game to recommend. A lovingly crafted, highly polished update of a truly classic RTS, putting Blizzard’s recent efforts to polish up Starcraft to shame. Boasting proper 4k art, a smoothly zoomable camera and major interface enhancements, it looks like an excellent upgrade.
Unfortunately, this just seems an ill-timed and ill-positioned launch. For die-hard fans of the Age of Empires series who need to have the most polished version of each game in the series, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition is out now and available to buy, assuming you have Windows 10. As for the rest of you, there may be better options.
Unfortunately for the (undoubtedly hard-working) team behind this Definitive Edition, they’ve got an uphill struggle selling the game. Not only does its Windows 10 store exclusivity greatly limit its potential audience on PC, but it stands in direct competition to its own sequel, Age of Empires 2 HD on Steam, which is not only a larger game, but is backed up by three meaty single-player campaign expansions and has an enormous online player-base, ensuring multiplayer is always an option no matter where you live or when you want to play.
There’s no denying that the visual improvements on AoE: Definitive Edition are lovely indeed. The pin-sharp spritework makes me wish that I had a 4k monitor, and it’s always nice to see old classics given a fresh lick of paint, but with this remaster plus the sequel’s HD update both sharing a £15/$20 price-point, there’s really not much going for it other than the cleaner, more open UI style. Either way, I wish the developer’s luck and a following wind. Looking at the enormous success of AoE2: HD, this may yet find its niche.
Age of Empires: Definitive Edition is available now for £15/$20 via the Microsoft store, and is a Windows 10 exclusive.