Age Of Empires 4 is the first RTS I've taken seriously. I've practised build orders, memorised specific civ counters, watched pro matches and agonised over key bindings. I have gone down into the nitty gritty of sheep micro, just to shear off microseconds from early villager gathering times, but I've never seen a good reason to build half of the landmarks in the game. It's a blessed relief, therefore, to see "landmark improvements" on the roadmap for Season 4, alongside a new mode and a funky purple-looking biome.
Landmarks are special buildings that every civilisation constructs to move into the next age, choosing from one of two options. They're a big deal, but as developers World's Edge acknowledge, many of those choices are a bit too clear cut. The devs are looking to change that, "so the less-used Landmarks will now present more viable strategies or have unique features to stand out as a compelling choice". There are no specifics, but it's good to know the problem is being targeted.
The new mode, Nomad, sees players start with just "a few scattered villagers" rather than a town centre. It's already playable as a mod, with handy in-game support that lets you automatically download it when you join someone who's hosting it on the server browser. Official support will mean you can just queue for it in skirmish mode, where matchmaking might mean you don't get smushed by people who know what they're doing.
Here's my go to AOE YouTube guy with his run down of the roadmap. Drongo is the one who taught me how to manage my sheep. I trust him.
Last month, Nic Reuben had a chat with World's Edge where they proclaimed fans "the beating heart of the franchise". I enjoyed hearing about creative director Adam Isgreen's design philosophy, which is "everyone should feel like they're pulling a fast one".
Age Of Empires 4 is currently 33% off on Steam, putting it at £24/$27/€27. It's also available on Game Pass.