Rise of Nations Re-Release Lands in June Following Microsoft Acquisition

Big Huge Games' excellent RTS gets visual improvements, Steam integration, and Twitch support next month.

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Real-time-strategy game Rise of Nations will be re-released next month with improved graphics and new features by Microsoft, which announced today that it has acquired the rights to the franchise.

Known as Rise of Nations: Extended Edition, the re-release includes both the original Rise of Nations and its expansion, Thrones and Patriots. It will be available exclusively through Steam and makes use of Steamworks for multiplayer. It supports achievements, trading cards, and cloud saves, as well Twitch integration so that players can stream their matches online.

Extended Edition will see the game's graphics improved--water and textures have been identified specifically as areas of improvement, and full-screen anti-aliasing has been added. However, as the screenshots above and below demonstrate, Extended Edition doesn't look like a modern game. Instead, the visual overhaul seems to be roughly on par with that of the recent HD re-releases of fellow Microsoft RTS games Age of Empires II and Age of Mythology.

A specific release date was not announced; Extended Edition will simply be coming sometime in June. It'll cost $20 upon release, although a 20% discount for preorders on Steam brings that down to $16 (or $48 for a four-pack).

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This release is made possible because Microsoft has acquired the rights to the Rise of Nations franchise, which were sold off to an unknown party last year as part of the 38 Studios auction. Rise of Nations was originally released for computer back in 2003 and was followed a year later by Thrones and Patriots. (It also eventually spawned a fantasy spin-off, Rise of Legends, in 2006.) Developed by the now-defunct Big Huge Games, the RTS takes players through the different eras of civilization as they attempt to conquer their enemies.

Despite the RTS genre not being as prolific as it once was, Microsoft was recently looking to hire someone to work on a "new AAA title within an established and well-loved strategy game franchise." There was speculation that it could either be Age of Empires or Halo Wars, but Rise of Nations was also a possibility, given that it was published by Microsoft Game Studios. However, considering the opening was published only a month ago and was for a "AAA" game (which hardly screams "re-release"), it seems likely that listing has nothing to do with this release.

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