My teenage and tween years are difficult to remember without thinking of The original Age of Empires 2. It was released in 1999. My father was an engineer who had a knack for fixing computers people had thrown away. We had four computers in our home, which I would use to host LAN parties with my friends and brothers to play the real-time strategy game (RTS). I used to spend my spare time going through single-player campaigns, even when there was no one else playing. Of course, I wasn’t the only one that loved single-player campaigns.
RTS enthusiasts loved the original game from the time it was released. The original game has been cherished by many over the years and even received the HD remake in 2013. This was the beginning of several expansion packs which brought new civilizations and campaigns to players like me. The Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition was released for PC in 2019. It included all DLC, updated graphics, and “The Last Khans” a new expansion. There were also a lot of quality-of-life enhancements. It was just as fun as the original.
So when I learned that Age of Empires 2 Definitive edition was coming to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, I became both extremely excited and curious about how a game that was heavily designed to work via mouse clicks could perform on a console with a controller. After spending more than 15 hours playing the Xbox Series X near-final preview, I am happy to report that Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition is very enjoyable to play on Xbox. It’s coming to Game Pass so you shouldn’t miss it.
|Developers||Forgotten Empires, Tantalus Media, Wicked Witch|
|Publisher||Xbox Game Studios|
|Choose the right size||43GB|
|Playtime||More than 200 hours|
|Date of release||Jan. 31, 2023|
|Platforms||Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC|
|Xbox/PC Game Pass||Yes|
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
Full disclosure: The preview build I was able to access didn’t include multiplayer. I don’t know how matchmaking works on Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition for Xbox 360. While I was enjoying the historical campaigns and skirmishes with the computer, I also paid attention to the new features. There are many small improvements to the Xbox version that can be made in controller play. These little touches add up to a great experience.
One of the best RTS games
The game’s basic gameplay is as great on Xbox as on any other version. This is how I refer to the fact that I am constantly sucked into long gaming sessions and can’t stop playing it because it offers such rewarding strategy sessions.
Age of Empires’ core idea is to build civilization and rule the world. It does this in real time which is rare nowadays. The player is responsible for a historical group of people. They can develop and advance their technology in several ways. I can, for example, make better or more powerful weaponry and armor. This allows me to build or unlock stronger military units, defense structures, strong military units, sturdy military units, defensible structures, deadly war animals, powerful siege machine, and other useful technology.
Players must consider the terrain layout and resources available, as well as the potential for attacks by other civilizations. It might be wise to collect a lot more wood to make your navy than to focus on your military if you’re in a place with lots of water. You can usually expect to succeed by moving as fast through the ages as you can so that your invading force can prevail.
Or, you can choose to create a strong defense to ensure that your enemies are unable to harm you. While you work to build up your empire, before striking. Perhaps you prefer to attack the market carts and villagers of your opponent to take away any resources that could help them advance. There are many ways to experience the world, and there are many strategies you can use.
Disclaimer: The review was enabled by Microsoft’s early access, almost-final preview build. The review was not reviewed by Microsoft before publication.
More than 200 hours of historical campaigns, single-player sessions and more
Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition’s best feature is its historical campaigns. These campaigns are more accurate than any history class I took. My time spent with Age of Empires has helped me to appreciate the value of location, technology advancement, location, and war strategy. I also learned more about the historical figures who used these elements to their advantage.
Each campaign starts with an engaging story, which is illustrated with new pictures and a remastered soundtrack. The voice acting helps bring the story to life. I am placed in many situations and have to overcome different challenges, which keeps the gameplay interesting. As a historian battle unfolds, I might have to escort Joan of Arc from one city to the next, build a Wonder, and demolish buildings of an enemy.
With over 200 hours worth of gameplay available in solo modes, players get their money’s worth. For varied matches, single players can also jump into skirmishes with the computer. To keep things exciting with friends, you can also use online co-op and competitive mode.
Xbox has new interfaces that make it easy to concentrate on strategy.
Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition is a great game for Xbox. This is due to a few new interface mechanisms that were added to the game in order to make it more compatible with controllers and consoles. You can even find a tutorial explaining these new Xbox mechanics that I recommend you watch.
Instead of having to tell each villager what task to do, I can press the right stick to bring up a Villager Priorities Presets Wheel that allows me to choose which materials my villagers should be focusing on. This allows me to focus on my war strategy, rather than micromanaging every villager.
I can still choose single villagers, or groups of villagers, and assign them different tasks to each other such as building a monastery. Amazingly, the villagers can go back to material collection after they are done.
You can also give a series of instructions by holding the left trigger and assigning different tasks. This was often used to get my Infantry units to explore different parts of the map, then return to my City Center. These new wheels and command options make it easier to play the game, but not less fun.
Unit commands are displayed at the bottom left corner of the PC version. The Xbox version of Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition lets me select a unit, then press the right trigger to open a list of options for that unit. So I can tell my villagers how to build a Castle or make my military units patrol an entire area. Also, I can get any of my buildings upgraded without having to focus on the center of my screen.
Hotkeys are also used to assign the D-pad. You can select any of my idle monks, soldiers, monks or livestock by tapping on one of the directions. The left trigger can be held and the D-Pad buttons tapped. This allows me to select a specific category of military units like cavalry or melee. To select all units within a specific category, you can hold down the Dpad buttons instead of tapping. It is very easy to give them all the exact same command at once. This is useful when I want to attack distant enemies without having to click on anyone.
You can also tell your units to attack one target by selecting it with A, or you can press X to tell them to attack any object along the way to that target. My forces are protected along the way, and I don’t have to worry so much. These small improvements make it possible to transform this PC game into something that is enjoyable for Xbox consoles. Age of Empires 2 for Xbox: Definitive Edition is not perfect.
It’s fun but not without its faults.
Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition for Xbox presented me with the greatest frustration when I tried to place buildings in certain areas of the grid. Sometimes I would like to have a row of houses exactly in line with one another to create an impassible barrier. But hovering over the exact spot I desired was difficult as the marquee would move around instead of going where it wanted to. The settings didn’t fix the issue. I tried to adjust the camera and marquee speeds, but that didn’t work.
Similar to the previous example, when multiple units are occupying a small area, it can be difficult to choose a particular character from the group. This is especially problematic when you’re in high-stress situations. Sometimes the AI can make simple tasks difficult. This is often the case when I tell my military units they have to walk to a specific part of the map. But, they continue to get stuck on invisible barriers and take longer to get there than necessary. Sometimes, I must go in to specifically chain locations for units to walk towards so that they reach their destination in the fastest way possible.
Xbox is still a major player but it’s now available on Xbox
Even though some parts of the game don’t work as expected, I find these issues to be minor but not enough to ruin the overall experience. Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition can still be enjoyed on modern Xbox consoles. I recommend it highly to all who are interested. You can play over 200 hours of gameplay and you’ll find enough variety to keep it interesting, no matter if this is your first or 100th match.
This RTS game is for you if you love to think strategically and are interested in historical events. It’s one of the most popular strategy games ever made.
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