The Art of Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition

Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition is the latest entry in a series of remastered Age games and the first 3-D engine Age game to be remastered. In true definitive edition style all of the art assets were recreated for this release.  The team who took on this monumental task includes Han Randhawa, Art Director at World’s Edge, Brad May, Owner/Producer at Zero One, and David Giles, Senior Producer at Tantalus.  It was my pleasure to ask them a few questions about their work on the game. 

RadiatingBladeWhat did you use for inspiration when creating the definitive 3-D models of units and buildings? 

Han: Inspiration for us was the original models, looking at history and also the Craig Mullins paintings and the incredible atmosphere he created (BTW look for his interview a little while ago) Ensemble had done a seriously great job, so we had our work cut out for us. The water was beautiful, and the home cities had a really energetic bustling vibe. Internally at World Edge, we look to our internal studio pillars to guide us, crafted by our Creative Director Adam Isgreen, as with other Definitive Edition projects to be respectful to the legacy art and cultures being represented – and ultimately our goal is very happy Age fans. 

Craig Mullins Musketeers Artwork
Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition Musketeers Cinematic Shot

RadiatingBlade: For those interested, you can read the Craig Mullins interview here. When recreating all art assets, I imagine it becomes quite the task to ensure they are true to the original. How did you strike a balance between nostalgia and historical accuracy when recreating the unit models? 

Han: Man, this is so tough to do. The fans of Age of Empires are constantly on the forefront of our minds and preserving their memory of the game is very important. Nostalgia is incredibly powerful. It always makes me nervous when we start a project like this because there’s a danger of changing the art too much, but there are also fans who want art that’s drastically new. We were hyper aware and took learnings from Age of Empires: Definitive Edition and Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, which had the same challenges.  

We worked relentlessly to ‘preserve’ the legacy art, cherished for so many decades by fans, while bringing a new fidelity to the visuals. Changing too much in visuals is also detrimental for gameplay as longtime fans have built muscle memory, based on visual recognition, but at the same time folks asked for innovation. We worked very closely with the community to get a good picture.  There’re so many new graphical tricks we could have employed but anytime the visuals started to move ‘drastically’ away from the ‘look’ that folks remember then we had to reel it back in.  

Art needed to balance serving the game needs as well as respecting culture and history. Our Narrative Franchise Director, Noble Smith, worked with consultants from Indigenous Nations to review historical and cultural accuracy for the Native American and First Nations civs represented in the game. And then Tantalus and Forgotten Empires expertly implemented these suggested changes.  

Higher fidelity was key, but also clear readability. As an example, we’d find the bloom was very high in the original game and that exposure would blow out the lighter areas, so we had to strike a balance between how much of that bloom to leave vs preserving the nostalgic memory.  Just reading the comments folks make when they see the new art and share that the new Definitive Edition art looks exactly how they remember it is a good win.  

RadiatingBladeWhat were some tweaks you made to the classic 3-D models to make the definitive versions more appealing or more distinct from the perspective of the player? 

Han: Just a little clarity on the art production: folks might not know that every 3D model asset was completely re-created from scratch. Every unit, building, skydome, blade of grass, tree, barrel etc. was recreated. The increase in 4K details on a unit suddenly became much more visible once they were re-created – from actually seeing the unit’s face, to the lovingly crafted details on grain of wood. Materials were crafted using modern digital content creation tools allowing for vivid colour and an increase in sharpness which helped to show details like stitching or rope details not as apparent before. 

David: We also made extensive modifications to the engine  – including support for PBR (Physically based rendering) materials, post effects, lookup tables, and a host of sophisticated lighting improvements which allowed the artists to build on the existing assets and push them closer to the concept art created for the original game.  

Brad: Part of the design brief was to make the units and buildings feel like they had been hand-crafted by a physical model-maker. So the units were to have slightly exaggerated silhouettes like the miniatures found in Tabletop RPGs. The increased poly count allowed us to create buildings with elements that extend out from the silhouette like eaves, and wooden barrels that were actually round! 

RadiatingBladeYes, I certainly remember how the game looked amazing for the original release but playing the game now it is plain to see how the units are blocky in appearance. I’m amazed all over again with how everything appears so lifelike. What was your favorite 3-D model to recreate for the definitive edition and why? 

Han: My favorite models to see come to light are the new Swedish and Incan Home Cities, so gorgeous. Also I’m a huge fan of ships and they are so beautifully crafted – need to be 3D printed! 

Brad: There are a couple, the first being Barry the Capybara! He represented one of our earliest forays into establishing the scope of additional detailing, and many of the lessons learnt re-vitalizing his chubby rodent features informed every asset that followed. We also knew we were on the right track when the villager was attacked during combat – you felt much more sorry for them as the additional detail made them appear more human, and Barry more like a Capybara. 

The new Home Cities for Inca and Sweden were great to make as we were able to push things a little further as they didn’t need to conform to the original game. Introducing new lighting elements and setting the time of day to dusk really made Sweden ‘light up’ and the highly-detailed ‘Vasa’ warship moored in the harbour really ‘shines’! 

Barry the Capybara’s Makeover for Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition

RadiatingBladeBarry has certainly become a fan favorite!  What are some of the tools and techniques you used to take a classic unit or building model and recreate it for the definitive edition? 

Han: In order to be authentic to the original much of the techniques would utilize multiple types of texture maps: normal maps, specular maps, etc. However, the tools to create that digital content are now far more advanced. They didn’t have Zbrush or Substance tools back in the day and thus our normal map creation and texture work allowed for higher fidelity control and crafting. 

Brad: Substance Painter and Designer proved invaluable when realizing the game’s textures in high definition, and allowed the art team imbue the models with authentic materials that take full advantage of the latest in real time rendering capabilities.  

David: Custom tools were also created to remove repetitive tasks for the artists such as destroying the buildings and automating the export processes. This allowed the artists to focus on what they do best, rather than getting bogged down in technical processes. 

The Zero One Team

RadiatingBladeIt’s amazing how much technology has changed over the last 15 years.  How many months did it take the artists to recreate every 3-D model in the game? 

Brad: The team started out with just 6 artists at the beginning of the project and expanded to 25 for most of the project. That included a team to handle all the units another for the buildings and finally an environment team.  We also had a cinematics team that worked on updating the pre rendered cinematics while at the same time keeping them within the spirit of the original.  

David: It took approximately 24 months to completely remaster all of the game’s assets from the ground up – Remodeling, retexturing, and re-lighting close to 6000 unique assets in the process. 

RadiatingBladeThat is an incredible amount of work!  I have a much greater appreciation for the definitive edition now. Remastered cinematics have been a request from the fans for the past two definitive edition titles, so it’s great to see they were remade for this new release. Were there any challenging unit or building models which went through several iterations before finally being made part of the game? 

Brad & David: The Aztec Home City was the first large scale environment we tackled, and one pyramid within it provided the team with a proving ground that would challenge every assumption we’d made up to that point. From technical issues surrounding pipeline and process, through more artistic concerns regarding style and fidelity – ALL our hopes for tackling the broader game were pinned to that pyramid. After more iterations than any of us care to recall, an approach was agreed upon, and the team moved on to the remaining 5,999 assets – fatigued, but not broken!  

RadiatingBladeAs fans I think we all take the home city environment for granted.  It’s a very detailed historical setting which one could easily stare at for a long time and still find something new. What did you learn from the process of recreating unit and building models for the game that you will take into your next projects? 

Han: Making these games is a shared effort, we’ll continue to learn from fans and community. We really looked hard at readability and recognizability in units, which will be valuable going forward. You have to remember we played some these games on CRT monitors with scanlines and now monitors use back lit panels, etc. which changes the look. We also had some great learnings with internal focus on making sure Age is for everyone. One of our team members is colour blind and he helped us in that effort with our Senior Artist, Melinda Rose, and the team to develop a colour blind overlay mode.  We also looked the models and how they sit within the environment and terrain – adding subtle colour hints in the terrain to improve some of the more monochromatic areas of the game without drastically changing what folks remember. It’s visual upgrades like these that are hard to instantly spot, but the game looks better for it. 

Brad: The game’s original assets provided an excellent reference from which each artist to base their updated assets on and recreating them using modern software and processes showed us just how far things have progressed since then.  

David: Also, the sheer amount of assets that needed to be built reinforced the benefits of creating custom tools per-project that automate repetitive tasks and increase output significantly. We would be making these assets for the foreseeable future if it wasn’t for the time savings brought by our Pipeline Team and Tools Programmers. 

RadiatingBladeIs there anything else you would like to add? 

Han: We have letters from fans who have played with their loved ones and have life experiences embedded into this game, thus we are more than just revisiting the art – I feel we are entrusted custodians of emotional soul of the game and take that very seriously. The art in a franchise like Age of Empires is in some ways hallowed ground. Looking back at the wealth of assets and art, I reflect that games can be such a hard-fought battle and we get so close. I look at Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition and I can’t help but feel proud of the game. We have been single mindedly driven to make visuals in Age III: DE something that fans remember – to be as colourful and bold as the original.  We want fans to re-live their excellent experiences while also making it accessible fans new to Age

Thank you all for your time and giving us all a sneak peak into the process of remastering the 3-D units and models in Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition.  If you would like to see all of the work from the art team yourself, be sure to play Age of Empires III: DE and zoom in all the way to see all of the fine detail in the recreated unit and building 3-D models.

The Definitive Developer Experience

The release of Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition today marks a milestone in the Age of Empires franchise.  It fulfills the promise made by the community team back at Gamescom 2017 to release definitive editions of Age of Empires, Age of Empires II and Age of Empires III.  The leaders of two of these development teams making remastered Age of Empires game a reality include Bert Beeckman, Forgotten Empires Co-Founder, and Joss Ellis, Director of Development at Tantalus.  It was my pleasure to ask them a few questions about their experience developing Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition and what that means for the future. 

RadiatingBlade: What did you learn from the Age of Empires III community at the beginning of the project about their expectations for the definitive release of the game and how did that impact development?

Joss: Much like the previous “Definitive Editions,” we’ve been actively working with this community to ensure we maintain that special “Age of Empires III” flavor, while adding new Quality of Life features, UI tweaks and a plethora of new and revised content. Some of the biggest pieces of feedback we saw going into development included fixing exploits & cheats, reducing OOS & LAG, updating the map pool, work on aspect rations, fixing infamous bugs and adding new civs. We love our community and Age Insiders. As some of our most passionate fans, they’re able to provide us with another perspective that empowers us to make the best game possible.

RadiatingBlade: How did the process of remastering Age of Empires III: DE compare with remastering the previous Age of Empires games?

Bert: Although each game is very distinct, and has its own unique gameplay flavour, we were able to apply learnings from our previous remastered titles to “Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition,” as well. Be it in how to integrate some of the new tech (such as the server-based multiplayer system, which has now been tried and tested in “Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition”) or how we work together with the community through betas. Each game has its own challenges when it comes to remastering, but we were able to find a lot of common ground, which allowed us to bring out the best in “Age of Empires III: DE.” It was also a pleasure to see how the original developers evolved their games over time. Not only in their designs, but also in how their approach to creating a game engine evolved. 10-year-old code is more pleasant to work with than 20-year-old code!

RadiatingBlade: What were some of the challenges and opportunities that the development team encountered when creating Age of Empires III: DE?

Bert: Fifteen years since its original release in 2005, the daring take on the Age of Empires formula still has a lively, bustling community. We saw this release as an opportunity to add new Quality of Life features, UI tweaks and a plethora of new and revised content. These include improved and extended zoom levels, range and progress indicators over buildings, naval formations, auto-scout option or just the ability to check the tech tree! New and returning players will also find a lot of joy in the overhauled “Home City” system featured in “Age of Empires III.” The grinding to unlock all cities and cards has been removed, so all content is readily available for players including a set of pre-made card decks so players can jump right into the action. “Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition” is the return of the most audacious entry into the series. It’s ready to rock for another 20 years and beyond.

RadiatingBlade: Are there plans to continue adding content to the game after release such as new civilizations and campaigns or simply more Art of War and Historical Battles?

Bert: We will continue to support “Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition” after release, with an emphasis on providing continuous value and a great experience for our community. We’re focused on the launch right now, but will have more specifics to share soon.

RadiatingBlade: For fans who have created content for Age of Empires III over the last 15 years will there be an easy way for them to import their creations into Age of Empires III: DE? 

Joss: Scenarios previously created for Age of Empires III carry over to the Definitive Edition without problems. Maps can work, but benefit greatly from a buff to take advantage of the new terrain, rivers and lighting systems. We’ll work on a case by case basis for other mods to make it as easy as possible for players to convert some existing mod categories into the formats compatible with “Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition.” It’s possible not every single one will work, but we’ll do our best to cover as many as possible.

RadiatingBlade: Did you add any new features or capabilities to the scenario editor that game mod creators should know about?

Joss: The editor has seen a few smaller quality of life improvements. There is now a search field when placing objects, a bunch of new trigger effects and fixes to old triggers. It also has a new river tool – highlight “new lighting sets” – as that’s key to making a level look awesome. Otherwise, the editor is largely the same. It is a bit daunting, but very powerful tool.

RadiatingBlade: For Age of Empires III fans who will be playing the Inca and Sweden civilizations for the first time starting on October 15th, do you have any gameplay tips or strategies of your own to share?

Bert: The Swedes are a brand-new addition to the franchise and cover one of history’s most unlikely great powers. A small European nation which eclipsed all military convention and became a powerhouse on the European battlefields thanks to their innovative military tactics. They’re a quintessential Age of Empires III civilization, with a strong early aggression and high reliability on gunpowder units and mercenaries. While the Incas are a more traditional Age of Empires civilization, covering one of the largest empires in South America, where they constructed mighty stone cities, citadels and palaces. The Inca are more of a defensive city builder civ, which are less dependent on aggressive expansion or map control. Whether you’re more of a city builder or aiming for military domination, we think all players will have a lot of fun exploring each one’s unique play styles.

RadiatingBlade: How will your experiences from remastering Age of Empires III: DE be helpful going forward for Age of Empires IV and the potential for an Age of Mythology: DE?

Bert: What’s nice about working on all these games again is that it gives us a chance to really rediscover what works in each game and take these learnings to other installments of the series. The best example of that is the Art of War series, which was very well-received in “Age of Empires II: DE,” has now been added to “Age of Empires III: DE” and will very likely find its way into future installments.

RadiatingBlade: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Bert: On behalf of our family of developers from around the globe that have worked hard to make Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition a worthy entry in the “definitive” line, thanks for your patience and we can’t wait to engage with you now and into the future!

Thank you, Bert and Joss, for your time, especially leading up to the release of Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition.  I’m impressed by all that the development teams have been able to accomplish with the game and excited about what the future holds for the game.  Be sure to check out Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition on the Microsoft Store or Steam which released today!

Prove Your Medal

One of the most welcome additions in Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition are the Art of War Challenges which provide new players and returning players the foundations to improve their gameplay strategies. Like the Art of War challenges in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, I appreciated the limited scope of most missions which helped me learn the basics of the game without demanding too much. With excitement I started completing the challenges one by one until I hit a snag.

When I started the Build Orders challenge it took me completely off-guard. Suddenly I was confronted by a quick-firing never ending list of primary objectives that proved to be quite hectic and it seemed like objectives were marked complete on a delay. At the end of my first attempt at the challenge and multiple replays, I only managed to earn a bronze metal. I hope the team can reduce the difficulty of this particular challenge a little to make it a little less demanding as well as fix the bug with primary objectives completion. Given how demanding the challenge, it’s quite possible that I missed something during the mission which threw off the triggers for completion of one or more primary objectives.

The other challenge which I found more difficult than the rest was Land Battle where you choose a unit composition to counter the A.I. Since I am less knowledgeable which unit counter choices are suitable in Age of Empires III as much as the first two Age of Empires games, this also proved to be difficult. During the first few confrontations the unit counters were fairly intuitive for me but by the end I felt like I was guessing more than actually knowing what to do. For these reasons, I recommend that new and returning players make Land Battle and Build Orders their final challenges.

Regardless of player experience level, what was not clear to me when I loaded up the Art of War challenges was how the grid view of the Art of War challenge missions represented the recommended order of completion. Are the easiest missions top-left and the hardest missions bottom-right or are the easiest missions top row and the hardest missions bottom row? Neither appears to be true. I hope this can be addressed in a future update.

Another thing that I would have liked is that after first time the cinematic was clicked it would go straight into the challenge instead of bringing me back to the Art of War menu. At the end of watching the cinematic for the first time, I was ready to jump into the challenge! Bringing me back to the Art of War menu left me confused.

Overall I feel that the Art of War challenges are just what new and returning players need to become better at playing the game. Most are easy to moderately difficult. This is the right approach in my opinion. I hope that like Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, more challenges are added in the future based upon feedback from the fans. There is a lot of potential with this new feature of Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition.

Which Art of War challenge are you most excited about playing? Leave a comment below!

Fortnight Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to Hellhammer, Thanis and David P., the winners of the “Fortnight Giveaway” for a copy of Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition! Hellhammer and David P. please check your Steam accounts for your gift. Thanis, please check your email for a special message from me.

Fortnight Giveaway

As the release of Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition on October 15, 2020 draws near, Age of Empires Town Center would like to gift three Steam codes for the game in celebration.

In order to be eligible for the game code giveaway, you must do the following:

  1. Post a comment on this blog post explaining why you are looking forward to playing Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition on release day.
  2. Add RadiatingBlade, site owner of Age of Empires Town Center, as a friend on Steam so they can gift you a copy of the game once the contest has finished.

All steps above must be completed before the contest ends 11:59 PM EDT on Monday, October 12th. Codes will be provided for the top 3 entries as determined by RadiatingBlade, so be as creative, funny or nostalgic in your comments as possible to make them stand out above the rest. Good luck! Any questions? Fill out our Contact Us form and we will respond as soon as possible.

Note: This contest is not sponsored in any way by Microsoft or Xbox Game Studios.

A Collection for the Ages

With the release of Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition about 3 weeks away, it’s time to take a step back and look at the culmination of Ensemble Studios’ work on the Age of Empires series with the Age of Empires III Collectors Edition. The physical collectors edition included the game, demo CD, original orchestral soundtrack CD, a making of DVD, a player’s guide, a large poster and the Art of Empires art book. It wasn’t the first time Microsoft had released a collectors edition for the Age series, but it was the first time so much attention to detail was given in such a product.

The most treasured and perhaps the most infamous part of the collectors edition was the Art of Empires art book. It included in-game art, concept art and paintings by Craig Mullins from all games in the Age of Empires series. Coming in at 208 pages with personal thanks and greetings, the book was a love letter to fans of the franchise. At the end of the book is a page with the original Age of Empires through the speculated Age of Empires IV and Age of Empires V. For years later fans took the page as gospel and until the gameplay trailer was released at X019 fans still thought that Age of Empires IV would take place during the modern warfare age.

Even though the artbook was a great addition to the collectors edition, the packaging itself was special. The case of the collectors edition is firm and sturdy and all of the pieces fit perfectly inside. To top it off, at the bottom of the inside of the collectors edition box was Age of Empires III, Microsoft Game Studios and Ensemble Studios embossed on the bottom of the felt lining.

It is a collectors edition like this that makes celebrating the original release of the game nostalgic. It is my hope that the current community team at Microsoft is able to make a special physical collectors edition available for Age of Empires IV which rivals the Age of Empires III collectors edition. With years invested into the project so far and fans constantly waiting for new information on the game, it would be a great way to pull everything together and present it to passionate fans as a thank you.

What are some of your favorite memories from the original release of Age of Empires III? Please share in the comments below!

Age of Community

Age Community was the home of the Age franchise with the release of Age of Empires III. It included links to developer blogs, forums, multiplayer leaderboards and stats, media, downloads and variety of other content made specifically for the community. As the expansions for Age of Empires III were released the site continued to grow. However, with the release of Age of Empires Online the focus was put on this new entry in the franchise instead of the franchise as a whole.

Welcome to the Age of Empires Online community?

Much can be said about Age of Empires Online and what effect it had on the community. When it was announced the game was hosted on a new website, http://www.ageofempiresonline.com, and the community began to split. Although Age of Empires Online eventually became a respectable entry in the franchise before it was shut down, the damage had already been done to the community. In the years that followed Age of Empires II: HD Edition was hosted on the Age of Empires Online forums before eventually being hosted on the new http://www.ageofempires.com.

The first iteration of the new Age of Empires website.

The new Age of Empires website started out as little more than a blog site with links to purchase the entries of the franchise on Steam. Over the years that followed the forums were relaunched again and again until finally in 2017 the new Age of Empires website started to take shape with the announcement of Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, definitive editions for Age of Empires II and Age of Empires III and the long awaited Age of Empires IV. For the first time in years player created game mods were hosted on the Age of Empires website along with game stats.

The Age of Empires website as we know it today.

As the definitive editions continue to release it is great to see how Age Community is being reborn on the Age of Empires website. In addition to user stats, there are now leaderboards and an insider profile to manage communications and register for upcoming betas. My hope is that the experience on the Age of Empires website continues to improve in the coming years and through the release of Age of Empires IV. The community once again has a home now that the research has completed to the Age of Community and it’s a wonderful thing.

Break the Definitive Silence

It has been 3 weeks since the Age of Empires III: DE gameplay trailer was released during Opening Night Live at Gamescom 2020. In that time there has been a few interviews posted by PCGamesN but not much else. The official Age of Empires website has not posted much since the announcement until today with an interview with Anthony Brave, a tribal consultant. In that interview new game mechanics were discussed but there were no short video clips showing fans what those will look like in the game. In addition, the last beta for the game was back in April and no invite waves have been publicly announced since that time. This leaves the question, why the definitive silence?

There’s no question that this past year has been a challenge for many amid the COVID-19 pandemic and various world events. Even so, back in March the first beta for Age of Empires III: DE was announced on social media and I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate. At the time the community at large knew nothing about the game besides it was in development. A few weeks went by and another beta was announced by the community team. After the last beta ended there were no public announcements about the game or any indication that the game would even release before the end of the year. There were no further announced beta opportunities for months afterwards, either.

The Age of Empires III: DE gameplay trailer was a welcome change of pace during Opening Night Live at Gamescom 2020 and the community at large finally learned at a basic level what the game was going to offer fans. In the trailer there were short gameplay video snippets and in a follow-up developer interview there were also some short gameplay video snippets. Since that time 3 weeks ago there have been no further gameplay videos released. Only a series of posts by PCGamesN and one post by the Age of Empires community team with a tribal consultant. I’m confused why there has been so little media coverage on the game since the gameplay trailer release. I had expected much more.

All of this leads me to wonder why there is so much secrecy behind this game. Are there a lot of graphics glitches and artifacts? Are there game-breaking bugs which haven’t been fixed yet? Why have insiders been left in the dark for so long? Now with only one month before release and a multiplayer stress test starting today, is there enough time for the game to be ready for release or is the game simply being rushed out the door so that the attention can be turned to Age of Empires IV? I know there has been a lot of effort put into the game by the fact multiple teams of developers have worked on it and every part of the game has been touched and I’m not denying that fact. At the same time, I cannot help but think if the beta for Age of Empires III: DE had been ongoing like with Age of Empires II: DE there would have been more time to discover and fix bugs before release. We shall see. I am cautiously optimistic that the game will be polished upon release. At the same time I’m concerned that the limited use of the insider program with this release was a poor decision which will result in an unfinished product.

Party Like It’s 2005

In my mind Age of Empires III represents the pinnacle of achievement by Ensemble Studios on the Age of Empires series. Never before had the studio spent so much time and energy into creating a game and showing it off to the world. In my dorm room I watched from a distance as my homework piled up and part-time job responsibilities demanded my time. Even though my life was as busy as ever, I still spent time to check out this game and form a greater appreciation for the developers and their work.

Seeing all the side-by-side comparison screenshots of the game originally released in 2005 with the definitive edition releasing in just under 6 weeks, shows just how far the game industry has come in 15 years. With multiple teams working on the definitive edition, I feel the same dedication to the original release. I hope that same dedication continues for many months after the definitive edition releases to the public. Over the coming weeks, I hope to learn more about the game and form an even greater appreciation that what I had the opportunity to do when the Age of Empires III originally released. While Age of Empires III may not be the most popular game in the series, I hope the entire Age of Empires community takes the opportunity to pause from their favorite game in the series and give Age of Empires III another look with the definitive edition.

A Third Definitive Preview

Age of Empires III: DE was previewed this past weekend during Gamescom 2020.  The announcements from the game trailer were enhanced audio,  4K ultra HD graphics, two new civilizations, two new game modes, cross-platform multiplayer and a release date of October 15, 2020.  The two new civilizations are the Inca and the Swedes, which were both considered at one time by Ensemble Studios.  The cross-platform multiplayer is simply between the Microsoft Store and Steam versions of the game, both on PC.  The release date feels aggressive, especially considering that insiders have not tested the game since April.  However, there may have been a select group of insiders who have been testing the game all along.

Thanks to a post by u/BluMaxim on Reddit, we know more about the game from an English translation of an exclusive Gamestar interview. Of all the details shared in the article, the most significant in my mind is that for all game modes except the campaigns, all cards are unlocked.  This will allow players the freedom to experiment with different sets from the first day they play the game and find the card set that works best for their chosen strategy.

age-of-empires-3-definitive-edition-zoomfaktor_6111271

What do you find most interesting or exciting about the reveal of Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition?  Please leave a comment below.