Age of Empires Online
|Age of Empires Online|
Gas Powered Games
|Series||Age of Empires|
|Release date(s)||August 16, 2011|
Age of Empires Online (abbreviated AoEO) is a history-based real-time strategy computer game released on August 16, 2011 with digital download and digital disc distribution. Based upon the gameplay of the Age of Empires series, it was originally being developed by Robot Entertainment, but on February 24, 2011, it was announced that Gas Powered Games, the creators of Supreme Commander, had taken over production. The game is published by Microsoft.
The game is free-to-play—it is free for users to play, with the additional option of earning or purchasing premium content. Premium content may include access to many special items and blueprints, and more quests and features. Also, booster packs are now available, such as Defense of Crete and Skirmish. The former gives the player the ability to play in a survival type mode game, while the latter allows up to four humans versus up to four CPU opponents in a more traditional skirmish game-mode. The modes can be played in either single-player or co-op. The game also features several player versus player (PvP) modes for up to four people with the option of a PvP "Champion mode" which fully unlocks the players' tech tree and renders the gear for aesthetics only.
On March 27, 2012, the game premiered on Steam after a major overhaul patch which addressed complaints of an "MMO-like grind" and many other features, along with the debut of the Celtic civilization. On June 15, 2012 the premium content system was changed by offering the option to purchase all past and future content through "Empire points" earned in game, or by purchasing the points directly with real world money. With this change the player now has the option to earn all premium content for free.
As of 3 January 2013[update], Microsoft has ceased further development on the game and no new content will be released. However, the existing content and servers will continue to function and be supported. A Microsoft representative later announced on the official forums that on August 22, 2013, the Games for Windows Live Marketplace would be shut down, leaving the game only accessible by current or former players, thus meaning no new players can register and download the game as of that date. Empire Points can still be earned through gameplay, but the ability to purchase them is also being removed as well. In September 2013, it was announced that the game will remain functional until July 1, 2014 when the service will be shut down. The reason for its closure is because the content being created is too expensive to maintain.
Age of Empires Online, like its predecessors, is a real-time based strategy videogame. The game features much of the gameplay of past games in the series, with the addition of a massive multiplayer online gaming element. The player possesses a capital city for each started civilization, that continues to exist when the player is offline. Also, the game features a great quantity of new content, such as the ability to craft items with earned materials and trading with other players.
The main gameplay revolves around the player being able to develop a civilization from its birth to its peak and fall. To assure victory, the player must gather resources to spend on new units, buildings and more advanced technology. Resources must also be preserved, as no new resources become available as the game progresses. A major component of the game is the advancement through four ages with each advancement bringing new technologies, weapons, and units.
Civilian units, called villagers, are used to gather resources. Resources can be used to train units, construct buildings, and research technologies. The game offers four types of resources: Food, wood, gold and stone. Food is obtained by hunting animals, gathering berries, harvesting livestock, farming and fishing. Wood is gathered by chopping down trees. Gold is obtained from either gold mines or through trade and stone is collected from stone mines. Villagers require depository buildings; a town center, dock, storehouse, or for the Babylonians, an ox cart, where they can store gathered resources. Each civilization can research upgrades that increase the rate of resource gathering.
Players can construct a market for trade; enabling them to either trade wood, stone, and food for gold, and use gold to buy other resources. Market prices fluctuate with every transaction (supply vs. demand). Furthermore, markets and docks can generate gold, by sending trade units (caravans or merchant transports) to visit own or allied town centers and ports. Once the trade units return, gold is added to the stockpile with the amount of earned gold being related to the distance traveled.
Age of Empires Online includes five classes of military units: Infantry, archers, cavalry, siege weaponry, and naval units. All military classes are developed to maintain a balance on gameplay, and thus avoiding visible advantages between civilizations. As an example, a unit powerful against buildings can be weak against a certain kind of cavalry. Unique units are available for the Greek, Egyptian, Celts, and Persian civilizations, either from the start of the game or through advisor cards. These civilization-specific units are generally more powerful, but can still be vulnerable to certain units. The priest is a special kind of military unit that has the ability to convert enemy units to the player's civilization, and to heal allied units.
Every player has a limit to the total number of units they can create—a population limit—but may not immediately use the entire potential population. The population limit increases with the number of houses or town centers in the player's village to a maximum of 200, with each house contributing five (or ten for the Norse) and each town center contributing 20 to the limit. There are two important features for unit management: The idle villager button, which helps players identify villagers that have not been assigned a task, and the town bell, which sends all of the player's villagers into the nearest town center, fortress or tower for safety.
The buildings in Age of Empires Online are either economic or military buildings. Buildings can research technologies and upgrades that increase economic, military or unit-based efficiency, as well as provide resources for the player. Each civilization has unique buildings, but some are common for all civilizations; the most important of these being the town center, where villagers are created, resources are stored, some technologies researched and in which the player can advance to the next age. The town center can fire arrows at enemy units within range. Other economic buildings available include the storehouse for resources, farms, docks (the dock may also produce several military ships), and houses to support a higher population.
Military buildings include unit-producing buildings such as barracks, archery ranges, stables, and fortresses, as well as defensive buildings such as walls and towers. Military buildings can perform research to improve the abilities of military units, increasing their strength, defensive capabilities, or other attributes. The fortress is a powerful defensive building which can train a variety of units, including the civilization's unique units, and fires arrows at enemy units within range. It can only be built after a player has reached the third age. There are two other important defensive buildings: Walls and towers. Walls are used to prevent access for enemy units to an enclosed area, while friendly units can traverse the walls through inserted gates. Towers are equipped with the ability to fire arrows at enemy units, or garrison friendly units for protection, and can be used in conjunction with walls in establishing defense lines. Watch posts are used for extendings the line of sight.
The capital city is similar to the "Home city" concept implemented in Age of Empires III. The city functions as the player's home base for their civilization. It continues to exist even when the player logs out of the game, though it cannot be attacked or altered by other players. Through the capital city, the player can manage quests, improve technologies, send mail, craft items, participate in player to player trade, acquire and equip new gear for individual units, and visit other player's cities. Stores built within the city can be visited by other players and currency used for the items purchased will add to the player's funds. Unlike the home city from Age of Empires III where you can only customize the look of buildings, the capital city is completely customizable; buildings and rewards can be placed anywhere on the city map as the player chooses. Players can add buildings, rewards, houses as well as statues and bushes along with other things to decorate their capital city. "Vanity Island" exist to add new bushes and statues for the player to use to decorate their capital city. The city is also used as a gateway to other AI controlled cities within the region, where a player can visit and acquire new quests and items. The capital city also has many different buildings that the player can build including:
- Gear Hall - Allows the player to view, equip, and remove gear to your units.
- Advisor Hall - Allows the player to view, select and change which advisors they will be using in quests, skirmish, and standard PvP.
- Arena - Allows the player to create custom PvP matches with their party members. It allows you to select maps, teams, and whether the PvP will be Standard or Champion Mode PvP.
- Stores - Allows the owner of the capital city as well as any players that visit the capital city to purchase consumables, advisors, recipes, and gear. There are currently many stores available for construction in the capital city including, the empire store, general store, recipe stores, uncommon, rare and epic armaments and defenses stores, and glorious gardening and bountiful bushes stores if the player has purchased these vanity packs. Additionally, if a player has purchased the premium pack for the civilization, they get a share from any purchases made by other players in their capital city.
- Workshops - Produces materials at a constant rate for the player to use for constructing buildings, and making gear and consumables from craft schools.
- Embassy - Allows the player to send, receive and view mail.
- Palace - Allows the player to spend technology points and choose, customize and view their technology trees to be used in player versus environment (PvE) games.
- Treasury - Allows the player to keep track of their currencies and points that they have in game.
- Craft Schools - Produces gear and consumables for the player to use. There are currently eight different craft schools that produce gears and consumables for different units. The metalworking craft school is currently only available for the Celtic civilization. Each premium civilization that a player owns can have two different craft schools, while non-premium civilizations can only have one craft school. Additionally, Microsoft released a crafting app for Windows Phone which a player can use to assist in crafting within the game.
- Decorations - There are many different kinds of decorations that a player can currently build in their capital city. This includes small, medium and large houses, Argos cows, statues, bushes, trophies from skirmish quests, etc.
Quests are the main PvE aspect of the game. Quests generally involve fighting and defeating the AI player. They are similar to the campaigns in previous Age of Empires games. They are completed when the objectives are met. Objectives in quests vary greatly, some quests involve defeating enemies, others involve protecting a building or unit, and some involve collecting a certain amount of resources while defending from the enemy. Quest rewards include experience points, gold, empire points, chests, and sometimes gear. Certain quests also have a co-op option, which allows the player to do the quest with another player to help them. Certain quests also have an "elite" version, which allows for the player to gain a greater amount of rewards, but is more difficult presenting the player with a greater challenge.
The different civilizations also have different quest lines, e.g. the Celts have 80 unique quests that the other civilizations do not possess. However, some quests are shared by the civilizations such as the Argos-region quests. Some quests are repeatable while others can only be done once. Quest maps also contain treasure chests that the player can collect to attempt to get gear, consumables, materials and advisors. Units killed in quests, including treasure guardians provide the player with a certain amount of experience points, varying on the difficulty of the quest. Quests are unlocked in various ways, including reaching a certain level or having to have already completed another quest. Quests often begin with the player starting with a set amount of resources, certain amount of villagers, buildings, military units and the scout.
- Legendary quests
The ten "legendary quests" in the game are unlocked when the player reaches level 40, and has defeated preceding quest-lines. These quests are similar to the "elite" quests as they provide a greater amount of rewards than the regular version of the same quest. However, while the legendary quests allow the player to obtain lots of gold and empire points, they provide no experience as the player has already reached level 40, the maximum level in the game. Treasure chests in these quests may contain the elusive "legendary" gear which are rare, valuable, and provide good bonuses to units when equipped.
- Alliance wars
In June 2012, a free endgame content pack called "alliance wars" was released. The content is designated towards level 40 players, and consists of team-based competition revolving around three separate alliances. Players are able to align themselves with a particular alliance and complete quests for powerful rewards and passive bonuses. Contests are also held at daily, weekly, and monthly intervals.
Player versus player, or PvP, is another aspect of the game. PvP in this game can be started in one of two ways: By using Sparta PvP to find a random match, or by using the arena in the capital city to play against a party member. Sparta PvP can be accessed by visiting the Sparta region in the world map. In Sparta PvP, there are two different types of PvP options. Standard PvP is the first option and allows the player to use star techs from their tech-tree as well as any gear and advisors that they have equipped in their capital city. This PvP option was first to be released. Champion mode PvP is the second Sparta PvP option. This is also sometimes known as ranked PvP while Standard PvP is known as unranked PvP. In this PvP option all gears, star techs and advisors are disabled and cannot be used to start the players off at an even footing. All gears equipped will provide the units with a cosmetic change but will not affect their stats like they would normally do in PvE missions.
In Sparta PvP, the player starts off with a minimal amount of resources, a few villagers and their scout. Map selection is random and cannot be chosen by either players. Champion mode PvP results will also determine your TrueSkill ranking which is used to determine a player's rank globally as well as to help find the player a match and opponents for PvP. Currently, in Sparta PvP, there is an option for 1v1 PvP and 2v2 PvP. Rewards from Sparta PvP include experience points, empire points, gold and Sparta points which can be used in the stores in Sparta for chests, gear and consumables.
PvP is also accessible through the Arena in the player's capital city. While identical to Sparta PvP in many ways, Arena PvP can differ in many ways. In Arena PvP, you can play against any human opponent in your party as well as choose the map and teams (if it is a 2v2 match) before starting the game. Arena PvP will not affect your Sparta PvP Trueskill ranking. Finally, arena PvP also does not provide any rewards to the winning player. The August 2012 update also added a new spectator mode option for Arena PvP and the October 2012 update made Arena PvP (Standard or Champion mode) free for all players.
Currently six civilizations are available. Premium civilizations start at level 1 and are the Greeks, Egyptians, and Celts. Pro civilizations start at level 20 and are the Persians, Babylonians and the Norse. Each civilization has technologies and units that are unique to them, so that no civilization possesses all the technologies or units possible within the game.
- Greeks - The Greeks were the first civilization to be released for AoEO along with the Egyptians. They are considered to be the most balanced civilization militarily as they are the only civilization able to make three units from the barracks (spearman, hypaspist and hoplite), stables (sarissophoroi, prodromos and hippikon) and archery range (toxotes, peltast and gastraphetes). Also, they are the only civilization with the ballista siege weapon, a powerful bolt firing unit that does area of effect damage. The Greek naval units currently consist of the trireme, a powerful all around ship, a fireship, an anti-ship unit and the ballista trireme, a powerful, long ranged naval unit that is powerful against buildings.
- Egyptians - The Egyptians were the second civilization to be released for AoEO and they were released at the game's launch along with the Greek civilization. The Egyptians currently are the only civilization that possesses the mighty war elephant, a powerful unit that is capable of dealing splash damage, however, it is very expensive to train. The Egyptians have a unique way of advancing to the next age, which involves building a temple, unlike the other civilizations who research the technology in the town center. The priests and priestesses that can be trained at this temple are also unique units to this civilization. Finally, the Egyptians always begin a quest, or match, with a priestess of Ra which provides their villagers with a 10% resource drop-off bonus (e.g. dropping off 10 units of food will actually deposit 11). The Egyptians possess a unique crafting school: the religion craft school.
- Persians - The Persians were the third civilization to be released for AoEO. They were originally planned to be released in the winter break along with the long-awaited Skirmish pack and Celts, however they were released early on October 19, 2011. The Persians are a "Pro Civilization," starting at level 20 (unlike the Greeks, Egyptians and Celts who start at level 1), came with preset "Hero" gear as well as a shorter quest line. Being a Pro civilization, the Persians are only usable when purchased for empire points, although there is a one-quest-only "demo version" of the civilization. The Persians, militarily, have powerful cavalry and cheaper but weaker naval units. The Persian cavalry is considered to be the strongest in the game. Cavalry units of the Persians include the asabara (a well rounded cavalry unit), mounted archer (an anti-cavalry unit) and the cataphract (a powerful, expensive anti-infantry unit). The Persian navy consists of the galley, ram ship and the mangonel galley. These naval units are the equivalent to the Greek trireme, fire ship and ballista trireme, respectively, albeit being cheaper and weaker than their Greek counterparts. Another Persian unique unit includes the immortal, which is both a ranged and infantry unit. Finally, Persians have "toggle-techs" which can be turned on and off at the player's desire. These toggle techs provide certain bonuses while at the same time giving certain penalties (e.g. decreased unit production time but increased unit cost).
- Celts - The Celts were the fourth civilization to be released for AoEO. The Celts in the Celt campaign are based on the Gauls in France around the fourth and third centuries BC as opposed to the ones in Britain which did not have as much contact with the rest of the world at the time. Unlike the Persians, the Celts were delayed significantly and were released on March 27, 2012 as part of the Spring Patch for the game. The Celts are an infantry-based civilization, possessing a strong infantry, but lacking in cavalry and naval units - their Swanship is, however, the most powerful standard naval unit in the game. The Celts are able to construct gold mines which allow for the player to collect gold without the use of a drop site. The gold mine can garrison up to 10 villagers, and gold is collected faster and more efficiently. The Celts' unique units are the augur and the druid. The druid provides a damage bonus, can heal Celtic units and has a powerful attack. The augur can also heal units and provides buffs to Celtic units such as a temporary speed buff, or lower unit production time for buildings but at the cost of sacrificing a sacred deer. Celts do not possess a siege workshop but must rely on building the much more expensive fortress in order to produce siege weaponry. The Celts possess a unique crafting school: the metalworking craft school.
- Babylonians - The Babylonians were the fifth civilization to be released for AoEO. The Babylonians excel at quickly building a solid economy. The civilization possesses ox carts, which are essentially mobile storehouses. These units save both time and resources, by reducing villager travel distance and wood used to construct new storehouses. Other unique units are shield bearers, which can absorb a lot of pierce damage, lancers, a good anti-infantry cavalry unit, and siege towers, which are effective against buildings and can garrison infantry units to provide a ranged attack. Unique buildings in this civilization are the ziggurat, gardens and clay walls. The ziggurat is needed to advance to the next age and provides additional research options. Gardens, of which a maximum of 12 can be built, reduce research and unit training time. In the first age, Babylonians have clay walls instead of stone walls. Building clay walls requires wood instead of stone, which usually is more abundant in the beginning of a game, but they are also weaker than stone walls.
- Norse - The Norse were the sixth and final released civilization for the game. They are a pro-civilization and debuted along with the autumn 2012 game update. Hailing from Northern Europe, the Norse were a strong people that dared to challenge the Roman Empire. Offense is the name of the game for the Norse. Controlling the map and overwhelming the enemy is made much easier with the unique construction ability of the infantry. This allows the Norse to launch sustained attacks from anywhere on the map. This also allows villagers to concentrate on gathering resources, rather than building factories. To further strengthen their war machine, the Norse also excel at intelligence gathering. Not only are they able to build Outposts with their Infantry, but they also start with two Scouts, as well as wield powerful Seers that can summon Ravens to temporarily fly around the map and scout the enemy’s base.
Age of Empires Online, under the working title Project S, was to be the first game developed by Robot Entertainment, a company founded by 45 of the 110 former staff members of Ensemble Studios, who created the Age of Empires series. The game was officially announced on August 16, 2010. Robot was hired by Microsoft to develop the game over a 24 month period. The entire studio team focused on it as their sole project, in an effort to earn startup funds for Robot's future projects.
During early production, Age of Empires Online was originally called Age of Empires IV. The development team had noticed that over the years many other RTS game developers had moved away from the "economic game". The team felt that Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings had blended the economic and military aspects of the game perfectly, so they decided to play test it with hindsight. They noticed that many features from the game had been lost or changed over time for its successors. It was during this time the team decided to do an "Age of Kings style gameplay in an Age of Empires setting". The designers were surprised that fans of the series were most fond of the simpler aspects of the previous titles. Former Age of Empires II lead designer Ian M. Fischer stated, "When we started floating some of the early [AoEO] out to people other pieces fell into place – I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone email me or talk to me at a show and mention how much they loved the villagers carrying big hunks of meat in the original Age or the priest "wololo"". From that point on, one of the goals was to invoke nostalgia from fans of the series when playing the game, despite the newer and updated features.
The decision to make the game online-only was based in part on the success of Age of Empires II and the popularity of its online integration with MSN Gaming Zone. Since online player interaction through the game was made a priority by the studio, two iterations of the game had to be created; a server version and a client version. This resulted in a heavily modified version of the BANG engine used in previous games of the series, along with requiring large amounts of additional sever code and infrastructure to be implemented. Excluding the tools, Age of Empires Online contains over 1.2 million lines of code.
In designing the new look for the game, Robot had six artists come together to create a new art style which would look similar to the previous games from the series, yet look more "visually appealing", "timeless", and "bright". Among the art team was Ensemble Studios' first artist Brad Crow, who had worked on every Age of Empires game produced by the studio. The team implemented several ideas to give the game an improved core visual interface over that of its predecessors such as; increasing the field of view so that the player was able to see more on the screen, a tighter user interface to allow more of the field of play to be visible, a new building design to make them encompass less screen space - while also making them look more unique, and giving each unit a unique look and animation making them more easily distinguishable from each other.
The music and sound for the game was developed by GL33k and veteran video game composer Chris Rickwood. In composing the music, Rickwood strove to keep it in the spirit of Stephen Rippy's and Kevin McMullan's work from the prior games of the series.
On February 24, 2011, it was announced - first via Chris Taylor's Facebook page - that Gas Powered Games had taken over development from Robot Entertainment. According to a blog post that appeared on the game's website, Gas Powered Games was already working on the game behind the scenes, creating content packs and moving to take over as lead developers, which was planned for some time. The game was released on August 16, 2011 with the Greek and Egyptian civilizations, followed by the Persians during the holiday. The Celts was postponed to March 2012, and was the first out of the four civilizations solely created from start to finish by Gas Powered Games since taking over development.
On January 3, 2013, it was announced by AOEO Trajan via the official community blog that Age of Empires Online had finished its development stage and was entering its support phase, and in September 2013 Microsoft Studios announced that the Age of Empires Online servers would be shut down on July 1, 2014.
When first creating a civilization, players must select a server to play on. All servers are the same with no differing rulesets, but they are split up by language support:
- Abydos, Alexandria, Athens, and Marathon (Note: Marathon is where the official PvP streams and tournaments are held and the defacto server chosen by the top PvP players due to the absence of cross-server matchmaking.)
- Attica and Apollonia
The Chinese and Italian servers are excluded as they are being taken offline on January 22, 2013. All civilizations are allowed to transfer to another server free of charge.
At launch, the game offered premium content to players in the form of micro-transactions. As part of the game's launch on Steam in March 2012, prices were lowered and Steam offered all premium content and booster packs in the game for a discount through the "All in Wonder Bundle". The developers later announced that in June 2012, the previous purchasing system would be discontinued, while all past and future premium content will be purchased through "Empire points" earned through gameplay. The option to purchase the points with real money is also available. On June 14, 2012 the summer patch went into place removing the original purchasing system for premium content and implemented the new "Empire points" system - making the game fully free to play.
Premium civilizations allow a player access to rare, epic and legendary quality items and allow the use of advisors, which give unique benefits to their civilization, such as new unit types or better existing units. Premium civilizations also raise item storage capacity to a maximum of 96 slots and give access to the full tech tree. Pro civilizations are only available by purchase, and start off at level 20 and have no beginner quests, but otherwise function like Premium civilizations. Booster and Vanity packs are also available.
Age of Empires Online currently has two booster packs that have been released. These booster packs allow for the player to enjoy and experience new very customizable PvE gameplay. These booster packs add new content to the game as well as offering the player a way to test strategies and gain experience points to level up, gold and empires points. These booster packs also have quests that allow for the player to construct new vanity statues to decorate their capital city with. The booster packs also give the player advisors and gear that can not otherwise be collected by the player.
- Defense of Crete - The Defense of Crete booster pack is the first booster pack to be released for Age of Empires Online. This booster pack allows the player to play PvE missions that is similar to classic tower defense games. In these missions, the player must defend the wonder from waves of enemies that are being to destroy it. A Defense of Crete match can be started by visiting the Crete region from the world map and clicking on the appropriate building once the player has purchased the Defense of Crete booster pack. This booster pack offers a lot of customization such as with difficulty and the number of waves that are being sent to the player. Defense of Crete games are 2 player co-op capable so the player can invite another player to help them out. The gameplay involves the player(s) starting off with a fixed amount of resources, a scout and a few villagers. The player(s) must put up defenses and make an army in order to be able to resist the enemy waves of attack. The player(s) are given a 3 minute grace period at the beginning of the game before the first wave of enemies attack. Typically, the waves of enemies increase in difficulty as the game plays on as later waves include larger numbers of units and more powerful units. The game is won if the wonder survives all waves that are sent. Rewards for successfully playing a Defense of Crete match include materials, gold, experience, empire points, Crete points, chests and vanity statues to decorate your capital city with.
- Skirmish - The Skirmish booster pack is the second booster pack to be released for Age of Empires Online. The Skirmish booster pack adds allows the player to choose every element of PvE gameplay in Age of Empires Online. This allows the player to customize amount of player resources, select maps, map size, victory condition, map resources, difficulty of the CPU players, civilization to be used to the computer player, number of human as well as computer players and the AI/strategy that will be used by the computer player(s). In Skirmish mode, all units and ages are automatically unlocked for the player(s) to use in battle regardless of the player's level. Not all technologies are unlocked for the player to use however, and the technologies that a player can use depends on the what the player has already unlocked in their technology trees. The Skirmish hall can be accessed in the Cyprus region in the world map after the player has purchased the booster pack. By winning a Skirmish match, the player(s) receive a reward of experience points, coin, empire points and chests. Rewards are based on the difficulty, map size, number of starting resources, number of allies and enemies, etc. In addition to this, there are several global quests that the player can complete by playing skirmish matches. Completing these quests are the only way to get certain advisors and statues to decorate you capital city with. Currently, the player is able to fight on over 20 maps. Skirmish supports 4 player co-op against up to 4 computer players. The Skirmish pack allows the player to battle 9 unique computer opponents, 8 with unique tactics and one with random tactics. For computer players, there are currently 5 different difficulty levels ranging from unstoppable (hardest) to weak (weakest). The difficulty level also determines what gear the computer player's units will be using with weak using uncommon gears to unstoppable using epic gears. A typical Skirmish match begins with the player starting off at the selected starting age, resources, a scout and a few villagers. A game is complete when the player meets the victory condition, which could either be a standard victory (destroy all enemy town centers), conquest (kill and destroy all units) or wonder victory (be the first to complete a wonder or kill all units).
- The Fertile Crescent Booster - The Fertile Crescent Booster pack grants the player 30 new quests for level 20 cities and higher.
- Northern Invasion Booster - The Northern Invasion Booster was released on October 2012. The quest pack features 25 additional quests for level 20 cities and up, plus additional repeatable quests and mini-games up to level 40.
At launch, there were several vanity packs for the game, These packs provided the player with blueprints to stores that allowed the player to purchase new items to use to customize and decorate their capital city with in-game gold. The vanity packs have since been discontinued and are no longer available for purchase due to the launch of "Vanity Island", an island where players can visit to buy city decorations and vanity gear using their Empire Points. However, players who had already purchased the Vanity packs can continue to use them.
Age of Empires Online received mixed reviews, garnering an aggregated review score of 70 on Metacritic. Some critics praise the co-operative missions, graphics, and familiar Age of Empires gameplay. However, many critics were critical of the price of the game's premium content.
Justin Calvert of GameSpot gave the game a 6.5/10, noting the PvP matchmaking system, enemy AI, and pricing as weak points, but stated, "Age of Empires Online effectively infuses its conventional real-time strategy gameplay with massively multiplayer online-style loot and leveling mechanics." IGN gave the game a 7/10, with reviewer Nick Kolan critical of the game's best features being restricted to the premium content purchases. However, Kolan closed by saying, "For all its flaws, I can’t help but like Age of Empires Online. Caught somewhere between massively-multiplayer online role-playing game and hardcore competitive real-time strategy, Age of Empires Online delivers some of the most addictive parts of both." PC Magazine gave the game 3.5 out of 5 stars, and complimented the in-game artwork as "well done" and "nicely scalable", but felt the free to play aspect should have offered more to the player. Reviewer Matthew Murray wrote, "Age of Empires Online is highly enjoyable, and I found myself afflicted with one-more-turn-itis when a fiendish mission objective captivated (or frustrated) me. That’s not the case with every game I play—and it’s not nothing."
GameSpy reviewer Mike Sharkey panned the game in his initial review, but after the game received a major overhaul patch he later stated, "Well, AoE Online is now on Steam, and courtesy of a massive spring patch, the vast majority of the problems I had with it have been addressed." PC Gamer initially gave the game a 65/100 at launch, but later reviewed the specific DLC Celts campaign giving it a score of 90/100 and calling it, "The best free RTS gaming you'll find, the Celts bring AoEO two steps closer to greatness." PC Gamer later summarized the game's major complaints during its initial launch and noted that many of them were addressed or improved by the developers.
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- Official website
- Empire Handbook
- Gas Powered Games page
- Age of Empires Online on Facebook
- Age of Empires Online on TwitchTV
- Age of Empires Online on Twitter