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Community Review: Age Of Empires Definitive Edition

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While wololo lived on in our hearts and memes for years, it’s taken much longer for the original Age of Empires to grace modern PCs. But last week the remastered version finally graced the Microsoft Store after a couple of delays last year, and it’s the focus of this week’s Community Review.

My experience with AOEDE has been a little mixed. On the one hand, it’s really nice to have all the original campaigns, plus the Rise of Rome expansion content and the extensive tutorial as well.

Being able to swap from modern to classic graphics easily is nice. And for the most part, Xbox Live has held up its end of the bargain. I haven’t had any glaring issues with connectivity, at least not on the multiplayer side of things anyway.

But there’s been a fair few weird issues abound.

Firstly, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that AOEDE doesn’t like AMD hardware for some reason. On my PC in the office, which is a Ryzen 7 1800X, AOEDE only works properly after the game has been downloaded and installed fresh. The second time I try to play: crashes to desktop, without error, every time. I thought it might have been a problem with UAC, but that wasn’t it. GPU drivers were fine, and I made sure everything else was updated.

On an Intel machine: no problems at all. Fortunately, the devs announced that there would be a hotfix early next week. It’ll be interesting to see what some of the problems actually were.

But technical quirks aside, there’s also been a good question as to whether Forgotten Empires missed an opportunity to improve the Age of Empires formula. AOEDE is incredibly faithful to the original game, save for a couple of lifesaving tweaks like an attack move button and multi-building select.

Beyond that though, it was probably very difficult to tweak the gameplay too much. For one, modifying old code is probably the last thing any coder wants to do – because no matter how weird or dodgy it looks, it works, and it was also bug tested a hell of a lot. That means a lot.

Something else you can’t overlook is the interdependencies between systems, too. Take pathfinding as an example – it affects literally every unit in the game. Changing the underlying code to make units move in a less soul-destroying fashion would have impacted the entirety of the game, and would have been an utter nightmare to get right.

So you have to take some of that stuff into account.

But Forgotten Empires has a great track record with adding content to a game post-release. The support for AOE2HD has been nothing short of absolutely outstanding, with additional campaigns and factions years after the HD re-release. I wouldn’t be surprised if AOEDE gets some love as well, although how much will depend on the game’s success.

Given the base changes made in AOE2 to make the game a little more balanced and tactically interesting though – like better early-game defence with the town centre, increased importance on stone through the Castle Age and just wider variety overall – I’d be surprised if AOE2 didn’t remain the more popular game.

Still, it’s nice to have AOE back. How have you found Age of Empires: Definitive Edition so far?

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