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You might be wondering, as we take our first steps into 2021, what exactly the deal is with Age Of Empires 4. The game was first announced back in 2017, but in the years since that initial reveal, we haven't had much more than a brief trailer at a 2019 Xbox show and some reassurances that the game is still in development.
Fortunately Shannon Loftis, studio head of World's Edge ,recently shared an in-depth update on all of the company's ongoing Age Of Empires remasters and new projects - including Age Of Empires 4. "I don't want to make you jealous," she wrote, "but we are literally playing this game every single day-both in Washington and in Vancouver."
That's not much to go on, I grant you, but I'll take what I can get at this point. The fact that it's in a playable state doesn't mean it's anywhere near release, of course, but Loftis seems confident in what the team has, and explained that they're basically in the phase of development that involved refining and polishing the core of the experience.
Loftis said: "RTS development is funny: it takes a while to build the separate systems (AI, economy, sim, rendering, etc), and then it takes a while for them to come together. But when they do, you suddenly have a game-a game that needs debugging and balance and polish- but the core of the game that you know you're going to ship. And the best part is that it feels like an Age of Empires game."
Age Of Empires 4 is being developed by Relic Entertainment in partnership with World's Edge under the watchful eye of Microsoft. The game's creative director Adam Isgreen explained back in 2019 that the game will mostly be set during the Middle Ages, but that it starts earlier and finishes later than any other AOE game.
"Our time period is the Middle Ages, but it's slightly bigger - on both ends - than the time period from Age II," Isgreen told PCGamesN. "So we start a little bit earlier than Age II's time and we go a little bit further, kind of bumping up against the early Renaissance."
"We're not going to give you specific dates, because then people would be like 'ohmygod the campaigns must be this if the dates are this', and we're not talking about campaigns. I'd love to, and I could, but I'm not allowed to."
Age of Empires 2 featured four "ages": Dark, Feudal, Medieval, and Imperial. Presumably these ages will make a return in Age of Empires 4, alongside ages and civilizations not seen in the previous games. Here's hoping we learn more on the game in 2021.
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