Age of Mythology: The Titans Impressions

Microsoft shows off the upcoming expansion pack for Ensemble's popular real-time strategy game.

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Ensemble's Bruce Shelley gave us a quick tour of the additions and enhancements that the upcoming Age of Mythology expansion pack will make to the studio's real-time strategy game. The main attraction of The Titans is the fourth playable faction, but it will also add a couple things that players of any side can take advantage of.

The first of the general enhancements is a subtle yet significant interface addition: the repeat button. When you highlight the repeat button on a unit production building, the building will unceasingly add that unit to the production queue, simplifying the tasks of building up a big army if you have the necessary resources. The other major addition comes in the titans themselves, which are essentially a wonder that can attack. To unleash a titan, you first have to build a costly gate to the underworld. The titan is intended as a game-ending superweapon and is many times larger and more powerful than any other unit in the game, even those as large as the colossus. The titan has a total of 7,000 hit points, so it can take a lot of mythological units to slow it down--or another titan.

The new side, the Atlanteans, worship the ancient gods Gaia, Oranos, and Kronos. No matter which major god you choose, as an Atlantean player you'll get to use god powers multiple times--likely four times for the first-level powers, three times for the second, twice for the third, and once for the top power. The Atlantean civilians are unique in that they have mules that follow them around and so don't require a gathering point. They're roughly three times as effective as other civilian types and are three times as costly to build. Another key Atlantean ability can convert any regular human units to heroes for a price, which gives them a large bonus against mythological units but makes them no better against other humans.

The three major gods naturally all have certain advantages. Gaia provides an intrinsic defense against offensive tower building by making a lush circle of vegetation sprout around all your structures, preventing enemies from building anything on very nearby locations. Kronos has a core ability that's nearly the opposite, letting you time-shift any building to another location anywhere on the map for a reasonable cost. The building is disassembled before your eyes and reassembled simultaneously on the new location. Although the building is vulnerable in the process, this ability effectively allows you to offensively move powerful buildings like fortresses to strategic locations. The major ability that Oranos brings to the table also involves teleportation. This god allows you to build sky passages, which would be similar to the two-way teleportation buildings found in some other RTS games except that you actually move units into a sky passage, leave them there, then unload them at any other sky passage you've built. This means you can build these structures at many important points and keep a rapid-reaction force garrisoned to conveniently deploy as necessary.

The Titans expansion pack will come with a single-player campaign designed to introduce you to the Atlanteans' many new human and mythological units. The expansion will also include a number of multiplayer maps, and Shelley said that a new multiplayer mode is in the works, but he couldn't mention any details. The Age of Mythology expansion pack is due out this fall.

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