The AoE2 Gazette
16 June 2019
AoE2: Definitive Edition
On the 3rd of June Microsoft finally broke their silence about Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition when they announced that the game would be shown during the Microsoft Keynote and people attending E3 would be able to play the game. In the post on their forums they further said that the game would have 4K Ultra HD graphics, as well as a new, fully remastered soundtrack and 4 new civilizations. In the following days leading up to E3 they would share small parts of an image on their Social Media showing two cavalry units that looked unfamiliar.
This of course started a discussion on what the units were and as more pieces of the image were collected it became clear that the left unit represented a knight with a shield and a lance sitting on a white horse. The right unit was another knight wielding a mace and a round shield, sitting on a black horse. The pylon-shaped helmet of the left unit let many to believe that it would be some Eastern European warrior, but the exact civilization he belonged to was still uncertain. The right warrior was expected to be from around the same region (Eastern Europe/Western Asia), but the exact civilizations were still too hard to determine.
There was no mention of the new civilizations in the game trailer, but people didn’t have to wait long, since the game went up on the Steam Database and players got a sneak peek at the achievements. From this they were able to see that the new civilizations were Lithuanians, Bulgars, Tatars and the Cumans. Some other notable achievements are ACHIEVEMENT_NOT_THE_VIPER, ACHIEVEMENT_MASTERPIECE and ACHIEVEMENT_CASTLE_OF_DOUBT, which seem to be referring to some popular memes and players in the community. The achievement Not_The_Viper seems to be referring to the professional player TheViper, who is widely perceived as the best active player. The achievement Masterpiece seems to be referring to the meme and emote on TheVipers channel, which originated when TheViper jokingly referred to his forward tower rush as a masterpiece. The castle of doubt achievement appears to be referring to the castles of the professional player DauT, who has tried to make many castles when he has the military disadvantage and while building them loses a lot of villagers, which made the community refer to these castles as DauT castles.
With the game now up on Steam and the Windows Store, available to pre-order, we know the System Requirements as well. It requires Windows 10 and around 30 Gigabytes of free space. The price will be $19.99 USD, but players who already own Age of Empires II: HD edition can get the game for $14.99 USD. On an Xbox news post it was also announced that players would be able to spectate multiplayer games in real time with an overlay UI to give spectators information on different players’ status. Attached to the article are also 18 screenshots of the game and we’re able to get a first look at the architecture and the units of the new civilizations. Xbox Announcement.
Shortly after the Xbox article a video was posted on Youtube showing a playthrough of the demo that people were able to play at E3. In this demo we’re able to spot some Quality of Life improvements, such as being able to see how many villagers are on each resource at all times (and how many are idly standing by doing nothing). Some other much awaited improvements being shown are being able to queue researches in buildings and the ability to zoom in and out. You are also able to see what your current control groups are and what units are in them. There is also a Global Queue, showing what units are created at all times. And most importantly we get a better look at the new graphics and the new sounds.
Then on the Wednesday following E3 there was a small stream from Mixer featuring Bert “Cysion” Beeckman, project lead for Age of Empires and Adam “Ishmae1” Isgreen, creative director at Microsoft Game Studios. They showed some gameplay and explained some new features. They said that the AI was way stronger, acts more like human players, won’t cheat and can even beat the old AI in a 1v7! Then they said that there would be a series of tutorial challenge missions that will teach players how to lure boars and other game mechanics.
You’re also able to scroll without using the arrow keys or moving your mouse to the edge of the screen with right-click scrolling. If you hold your right-mouse button and move your mouse, the screen will move in that direction. It’s a feature that wasn’t in the original game, but was also present in the HD version. Another Quality of Life update that is present in most modern RTS games is the ability to queue multiple tasks, like letting a villager build two stables and then tasking him to mine gold. The game is modernized so you won’t have to manually reseed farms, now all you need to do is select a button and the game will reseed them for you as long as you have the resources for them. Finally there’s an update to the selection tool. If you select army together with villagers and sheep it will only select the army for you. This helps a lot since you generally don’t want to send villagers with your army.
But if you’re not a fan of these quality of life updates, there’s good news for you, as most of these options can be disabled. In the gameplay we saw some of the new units for the Tatars: their Unique Unit is the Keshik and they can train a fourth stable unit called the Steppe Lancer that has 1 range, but does melee damage (similar to Kamayuks).
Following the E3 announcements a few articles have been made sharing some more details about the game:
- The closed beta will include different multiplayer scenarios that will change as the beta progresses. (TheVideoGames)
- People are also still able to keep playing the HD version of the game after the Definitive Edition gets released, however that their support will move on to the Definitive Edition. (Dualshockers)
- Cysion also answered some questions on Reddit, clarifying that mods are supported through ageofempires.com to ensure that both MS Store and the Steam players have access to the same mods/user created content.
- Really popular mods like small trees and a grid mod are built in the game and are toggable.
- Mixer will be integrated on AoE2:DE, allowing you to watch streams with one click.
- Multiplayer will be handled through Xbox Live. This raised some questions in the community, as it was unclear if there would be designated servers or if only the lobby system would be hosted by Xbox Live, similar to the lobby system on AoE1:DE. Cysion explained on AoEZone that “multiplayer has been completely ripped out and built from the ground up, to be a server-based model.
- Cysion also confirmed that there will be three hotkey presets: a grid-based hotkeys, the HD hotkeys and the original AoC hotkeys.
TheViper Moves To Mixer
Just before all this info about AoE2:DE got announced something else happened. TheViper, one of the biggest Age of Empires streamers, announced that he will be moving from Twitch to Mixer. He made a Facebook post reasoning: “Mixer is Microsoft. Age of Empires is Microsoft. My game is Age of Empires. Being on Mixer will unlock interesting opportunities for myself both as a content creator and as a person who loves the game of Age of Empires.” The interesting opportunities he talks about are probably related to the support Microsoft will be able to give him for streaming AoE2:DE on their own platform. Now that it’s known that Mixer will have integration with AoE2:DE this sheds some light on his decision to move to Mixer.
You can now watch TheViper stream on Mixer
In the Escape Champions League we’ve arrived at the Europe West 1v1 Stage. With only the 1v1 and the 3v3 Stage to go, it was incredibly likely that aftermath and Team Secret would qualify for the LAN Stage. With the first 2 rounds (with the exception of 1 match) over, it is now confirmed that they will be the ones who are going to Manchester to play the Grand Finals of this year-long tournament. MbL managed to win his first round, while Nicov managed to go to the semi’s and secure the last needed points to secure the second place. Team Secret was already qualified and will now be fighting with aM’ for the first place. Team Secret will need to get at least 6 points in this 1v1 Stage and the next 3v3 Stage to make sure that they secure the first place, while aM will need to pretty much win both stages if they want to make up for their 10-point deficit.
You can see the full brackets of the ECL Europe West 1v1 stage here:
This weekend will also be the start of the Mangrove Shallows Cup, a $10,000 1v1 tournament organized by Memb and sponsored by AoE_ROTR. The tournament will feature 16 of the best players playing on maps that use the Mangrove Shallows terrain type. The tournament will start with a 5 week long Swiss System Group Stage, where half of the participants will qualify to the Play-Off Stage. Interestingly, there will be one DeathMatch game per series. A DeathMatch game is a game where players start in the Imperial Age with all researches done already. They also start with a lot of each resource in the bank. This ensures a quick start to the game and focuses a lot on map control.
There were some tournament announcements too: LidaKor announced the Two Pools Tournament, a 8-team 2v2 tournament that allows teams to make a civ pool for the opposite team, from which they have to use 1 civ every game. The top 4 teams in Double Ages are invited and 4 other teams are able to qualify for this tournament.
Another tournament that will be going on is the Nomad Summer Showdown, organized and mainly sponsored by NerdRageQuit. The Nomad Summer Showdown is a 1v1 nomad tournament featuring 12 players fighting over victory on the standard Nomad map as well as eight other unique nomad-start maps. It will be played over two weeks on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The qualification Round will be played on June 22nd followed by the Quarter Finals on June 23rd. The SemiFinals and Grand Final will be played the following week.
Finally the Gbeto Cup was announced, a tournament just for female players. The tournament will start at June 17th and has a prizepool of 300 US dollars. The first game of every series will be played on Megarandom, followed by homemaps of the players.