Great first game; classic sequel; much-maligned third entry that takes an admirable but clearly doomed stab at something different; hiatus; and finally, a triumphant, boots-on-the-ground return to the classic formula. We’ve been here before! Forgive me for a truly agonising cliché with this one, but it does feel like history is repeating itself with Age of Empires 4.
Thankfully, that history is really quite good. Age of Empires is the game of the before times, after all, the pinnacle of pre-Y2K. The first came out in 1997, the second in 1999. The time of beige PCs, dial-up connections and the early internet’s fabled golden age. This is the era right now. The pendulum has swung to crop tops, cargo pants, curtain haircuts and, apparently, historical real-time strategy games about little men in castles. Savour this one, because as quick as life giveth it can taketh away: the classic RTS is hot.