Age of Empires is one of the most mythical sagas of the video game. Known inside and outside of the medium, adored and longed for in equal parts, it is a series that has never quite gone, even if fifteen years have passed since the publication of the last numbered installment. However, thanks to the dedication of its fandom, always expanding the games, and its licensees, releasing new editions of them, Age of Empires does not feel like a dead franchise. And while we’ll still have to wait to see Relic’s Age of Empires IV, the truth is that first impressions of Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition couldn’t be more positive.
First published in 2005, Age of Empires III was a powerful boost for the formula of a saga that already seemed to have reached its zenith with the second installment. Adding a greater integration of all the elements of the game, the greatest novelty was the metropolis, a European capital of the empire that, while we skirmish in the New World, offers us shipments of resources of all kinds to help us with our departure. Getting different improvements as we gain experience and advance through the ages, its greatest particularity is that, as in the rest of the game, we choose the improvements and, unlike the rest of the game and what was normal until then, the progress in the metropolis they accumulate throughout the games,
Otherwise, Age of Empires III was clearly the son of Age of Empires II. We represented a civilization between different European countries and, later, also Asian and American, at a time around the 16th century, having to win by conquest or by solving certain missions, making use of the resources that we collect with villagers to create military units and upgrades of all kinds for buildings and troops. This turned it, like all previous installments of the saga, into a cult game.
So what does Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition bring? Well, in addition to the obvious graphical improvements that make it more enjoyable for the player of 2020, a whole series of small additions that will delight die-hard fans, while providing a more friendly entry point for neophytes.
In the preview we have been able to try some new things, in addition to some already quite classic. The skirmish mode against the AI and the campaign continue as we remembered them, promising us a practically infinite number of hours of gameplay where all the changes are essentially cosmetic, although we also have some additions designed to make navigation through the game easier. For this reason, because the base was already so well polished that little change admits, where the changes are most noticeable is in the new two modes: Historical Battles and The Art of War.
The Art of War is exactly what any upstart gamer who doesn’t know how to get into the intricacies of an RTS was expecting: a sneaky tutorial. In this mode, the game offers us small challenges, preceded by a video where the mechanics of the game are explained to us, where we have to do certain tasks in the shortest time possible to get medals. In this way, it fulfills a double function: for the novice, it serves to become familiar with the basic mechanics of the game; For the connoisseur, it serves to test himself and see if he can beat the very, very tight times that the gold medal demands of us. An example of good design when thinking about the needs of two completely different audiences within the same set.
For its part, Historical Battles is less something new as an interesting sequel. They are basically scenarios where we have to meet certain conditions of specific victories where we embody the generals of certain historical battles famous for their importance. This is a mode that was already included with great success in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, merging the Battles of the conquerors and the Battles of the forgotten, which come to the game to offer us very complex scenarios, full of changing primary and secondary conditions, that will extend the useful life not only of the game, but also of the more complex and designed experiences that the saga can offer us.
All this is also accompanied by a more evident deepening of the multiplayer. With a casual mode and a ranked mode, thus being able to separate competitive games from those without aspirations of becoming historical milestones for the game, and also a spectator mode, which will help notably for its broadcast on streaming services, especially for the possibility By automatically including a certain delay in the broadcast, the bet to turn the game into a possible sport materializes in this perfect understanding of the current online ecosystem. This can also be seen in the inclusion of an internal clan mode and an ingame profile that allows us to see all our basic milestones perfectly registered without the need for third-party applications,
In addition to all of the above, you have to focus on small aspects that may seem minor, but show the care that is being given to the game. On the one hand, the game is, at least partially in the beta, dubbed and translated into Spanish, something that is always appreciated. On the other hand, the game has changed small narrative and mechanical aspects, with the help of Native American and First Nations consultants to polish up problematic aspects of representation that the original game had. These details may be minor for many players, but they demonstrate a commitment on the part of Microsoft and Xbox Game Studios that, indeed, this is a game for everyone.
Because after all, Age of Empires is a classic saga. He has fallen in love with different generations and has achieved an extremely transversal audience, something rare in the world of video games. That is why it is appreciated all that effort put not only in respecting the essence of the original, but also in being inclusive. In thinking of both old and new players, both Anglo-Saxons and Spanish-speakers, both whites and Native Americans. An effort that, if the full game builds on what was seen in this beta, will allow us to talk about Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition as a game worthy of the legacy it supports.