Age of Empires Online Hands-On - Customization

We go hands-on with Age of Empires Online at Microsoft's February Games Showcase.

There is so much going on in Age of Empires Online that it's hard to know where to begin. Basically, there are two sides to this coin. On one side you have your hub city. This is your capital and the seat of your power. It can gain levels, has its own skill trees, and can be outfitted with new items and equipment. From your capital you work to improve your armies for when you go into combat. Then there's the flip side of the coin, the multiplayer and the missions, and this is where the classic Age of Empires gameplay really shines through. Some missions may require you to start from scratch and build up a giant army before taking on a fortified enemy. Others are a bit more exotic, such as the Egyptians' unique camel racing mission.

The Greek and Egyptian civilizations will be available by default, but they're not the only ones.

Our demo began in our sprawling Greek capital city. We already had all the facilities in place to start tweaking our army to our liking. First up were the items, such as swords and shields, which can be equipped to your unit types and will confer the bonus to all units of that type. We had a pretty sweet shield, so we handed it off to our superman troops, which let all of them enjoy its bonus. Items can be found by completing missions, or during missions in the form of treasure chests hidden away across the map. Every new piece of equipment will also alter your unit's appearance, so you can tell when you're outgunned just by looking at your opponent.

Crafting items also plays a large role in Age of Empires Online. Everything from weapons and armor to spells and abilities can be forged at your capital's various crafting halls. But before you can start putting your smithing skills to work, you're going to need resources. Wood, gold, metal, and everything else you will need can be collected either during missions or by assigning buildings in your capital to produce these resources for you. The assigned building will continue to work on producing the resource in real time even after you sign out of the game, up to a point. The next time you sign back in you may have some extra materials available, but if you wait too long, the building will eventually stop production.

Your units can be customized based on what you've chosen to specialize in. From your capital's guild hall you can select two fields--such as archery, religion, infantry, or craftsman--to focus on, which will award you various bonuses depending on your selection. An archery specialization, for instance, will award you with superior archer units and access to better bows, while a craftsman specialization will provide bonuses to the rate of building construction and better equipment for your workers. You can take this a step further by diving into the numerous skill trees available to your civilization. Some will be static no matter which civilization you're playing as, while others will be specialized just for that civilization. For the mighty Greeks, we had access to numerous infantry bonuses.

Once your army is decked out to your liking, it's time to hit the battlefield. When you're performing a mission for someone, the game plays just like classic Age of Empires: you build some workers, pick some berries, and train some soldiers. It may have received a new, highly stylized coat of paint, but it's still faithful to the core gameplay mechanics that made this series great. Our mission was a simple one: build an army and wipe out the opposition's town center. For an extra bonus we could hunt down all of the enemy's elite units and take them out as well, and we were always on the lookout for hidden treasure chests. Most missions can also be tackled cooperatively, or you can turn to your friends for some player-versus-player action.

Combat is handled in the classic Age of Empires style.

Overall, Age of Empires Online is shaping up to be a charming real-time strategy game with a complex customization metagame built on top. And since it's being released as a free-to-play download game, there's no reason not to check it out. Look for Age of Empires Online later this year.

Written By

Want the latest news about Age of Empires Online?

Age of Empires Online

Age of Empires Online

Discussion

50 comments
squidbilly22
squidbilly22

All i know is i played AOE 3 allot with my friends, we all tried this and hate it. thanx for making a good game total crap microcrud. @zaprct stop trolling and misquoting me,get a life ..dusche

zeleni92
zeleni92

"The assigned building will continue to work on producing the resource in real time even after you sign out of the game, up to a point." Please don't tell me this terrible browser based mmo trait is actually spreading...

cadams75
cadams75

Not sure why people are down on the graphics when they look just like all the other AoE games, not including III which was graphically superior than the first two games. If you have played the very first AoE and AoE2 you will see that these graphics are similar, but have a bit more pop to them. The only thing I don't care about is it being online only. I prefer to play my RTS games solo, but that's just me. Anyways, I don't game on Facebook, but I have seen videos on G4 of some of them and I don't see a big resemblance to this game.

cadams75
cadams75

Not sure why people are down on the graphics when they look just like all the other AoE games, not including III which was graphically superior than the first two games. If you have played the very first AoE and AoE2 you will see that these graphics are similar, but have a bit more pop to them. The only thing I don't care about is it being online only. I enjoy to play my RTS games solo, but that's just me. Anyways, I don't game on Facebook, but I have seen videos on G4 of some of them and I don't see a big resemblance to this game.

zaprct
zaprct

@squidbilly22 The Simpsons South Park Futurama Aqua Unit Patrol Squad/ATHF Family Guy American Dad The Boondocks Aeon Flux King of the Hills Metalocalypse Sealab 2021 Squidbillies Tom Goes to the Mayor Moral Orel Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law And countless adult Anime - proves that NO, cartoons are not just for kids. Looks like you've got some growing up to do.

jumme2
jumme2

why is it there is so much focus on the graphics? in nearly every of the first comments i see is it only peopel complaining about the graphic style?

squidbilly22
squidbilly22

Truly a sad year in gaming ,another great series bites the dust.Heroes of might and magic,Dawn of War,C&C ect...ect.. all my favs are kaput. note to Microsoft Cartoons are for little kids...

ashokmeena
ashokmeena

Played the beta for many hours.. I wish they stayed true to the conquerors.. That was superb game..

SergiuHD
SergiuHD

I can't apply for Beta because I'm 17 years old... Who will play this game if not the kids? my grandparents?I don't think so,they are to busy to sleep!!

twistyanddark
twistyanddark

Do you think my 9 year old son will like this or it will be too casual for him?

D3thN1gh7
D3thN1gh7

Yea I think this RTS should have been made as its own franchise and not associated with AoE in any way.

hirest-gree
hirest-gree

Cool game idea but why tarnish the AOE series. They shouldn't make this part of the series.

sensesfail99
sensesfail99

what happened with this game? it looks like a cartoon or a childs game. dislike!

jonnyrue2u
jonnyrue2u

@Trisco2k From what I've heard, free to play, but has items and other in-game benefits that can give you an edge for a price.

krawk_ck77
krawk_ck77

Yeah Free is the question in this one, lets hope its no mouthlypay for this Age of Empires. This will be the last Age of Empires if there is a mouthly fee!

Trisco2k
Trisco2k

I wonder if by free to play it means there is not a monthly charge, or its all completely free. I wouldn't mind buying this game if I had to. I wouldn't pay monthly though.

chigga102
chigga102

It's a shame that such a great classic game like AoE has gone down the "Facebook" cartoony style of games. A great series ruined for me.

icebox98
icebox98

im a big fan of aoe games but i don't like the sound of this one!!

jubaghutta
jubaghutta

@JeffreyCor This still looks like it will be a solid game man. I was a huge fan of the first two games when I was younger and this looks like a perfect throwback to the formula that made AoE such a successful series. I'm really looking forward do this! Not a lot of people like a 1800 century AoE.

DrugSkill69
DrugSkill69

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

DrugSkill69
DrugSkill69

@JeffreyCor Amen. One more point, stop with the cartoonish graphics all over, it's fugly. No problem with cartoonish stuff here and there, if it as some relation with the actual content, but Age of Empire? Diablo? Come on...

spike6958
spike6958

It looks good, not a fan of PC games but I used to play AoE2 and AoM back when I was in school so I might have to get this one.

JeffreyCor
JeffreyCor

Enough with the online games already. Have these people forgotten how to actually make good games? Stop putting such a push into online stuff and actually put effort into making good games.

twistyanddark
twistyanddark

I hope I am wrong but every persistent world strategy game ends up in doing one thing: Forming alliances. The biggest clans win. Sorry I will pass if alliances can be formed. Noone attacks someone who has 50 people in his clan cz its obvious he will be punished hard. I prefer games in which I win because of my tactics and skill. Not because if someone attacks me, I will find him on the map with my 15 game buddies and kick his @ s s.

Valkryiesbane
Valkryiesbane

this looks cool, but i'd still prefer to pay for a new full blown AOE game, but none the less cool graphics and idea

Maddogtaylor
Maddogtaylor

sounds good, hope its like the first age of empires that was great :)

Shardz7
Shardz7

Free to play? Either that equates to micro-transactions or barrels of spam before you even log in. The graphics look incredible and are very clean and stylish, but I'm with the majority in preferring more realistic graphics like the classic series we all know and love. I also see no trace of the original Ensemble Studios developers which has me a bit concerned and I'm hoping this doesn't turn out to be Farmville meets AoE with WoW styled art. It would be very sad to see this title get dragged through the corporate mud for the sake of advertising accounts.

leaf21nut
leaf21nut

To be honest, I'd much rather pay money and get a new AOE than get a cartoony, piece of online $#!T... Sure the game might be good, but it's nothing like the AOE I'm use to, and I think weve waited long enough... We deserve a new one!!

Filip_Janevski
Filip_Janevski

I think this game is going to be great :D Applied for the beta but nothing

Crimsader
Crimsader

This is going to be one huuuuge flop.

rann89
rann89

Gotta love the ignorant people who don't know the difference between graphics and art style.

Noclippin
Noclippin

Considering this is free it's looking pretty good.

bakalhau90
bakalhau90

This is much closer to WoW than Farmville. The crafting and equipping and capital city part reminds me a bit of WoW (doesn't help that items are also geeen, blue and epic...) and it's a great new thing in AoE, I love it. The AoE part, the missions and PvP is still that - pure AoE with updated graphics.

Blue_Tomato
Blue_Tomato

urgh, seems like the worlds greatest RTS game just turned into a Farmville clone. :(

Punizher
Punizher

been trying to get to the beta for agesss, ahh it sucks i havent be accepted yet :(

dark_rage864
dark_rage864

@defiant09 graphics doesnt matter, have you played Borderlands? that game is beast with its style graphics.

defiant09
defiant09

Looks far too 'cartoony' if you know what I mean, almost "Settlers" like graphics.

the22for4
the22for4

i wait this game loong time ago

MrBlobz
MrBlobz

I can't wait, i've been following this game for months! It's free and it is a full age of empires game

Junior_AIN
Junior_AIN

Free? The way I see it seems quite good, love the graphics, and also free. Simply amazing.

magicalclick
magicalclick

\\\\\?o?//// It is free-to-play? Awsome. Free game here I come. Please make it on WP7 so I can have no life 24/7.

shawnyboy95
shawnyboy95

Cool, I'm a freak when it comes to customization, might check this out.