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!