In 1997, Age of Empires changed RTS games forever. Today, twenty years later, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition begins that transformation anew with all-new graphics, remastered sound and music, and a smooth UI experience rebuilt from the ground up.
The performance was solid throughout my testing, I had no issues with gameplay improvements and the graphics looked great. There were some pathfinding issues and units did enjoy clashing with one another, which made battle rather hectic, but the clunky controls and movement were among the things I loved most about the original.
There’s clearly been plenty of love and attention given to the remastering of Age of Empires Definitive Edition, even if some of the less enjoyable elements of the original have also made it through the process unscathed. Twenty years later it still remains a hugely enjoyable RTS, and particularly thanks to its iconic soundtrack remains a joy to play, with hours disappearing as the eras pass you by.
Age of Empires Definitive Edition manages to fulfill its function as a remaster. The graphics and the sounds are truly a delight, and there are some small playable improvements as well, but these are weighed down by the AI and a pathfinding system which still does not behave as well as it should.
The return of one of the vicars in the RTS genre is a mix between nostalgic memories and learning how to manage your rage. The same problems that in 90s were the norm now are huge problems that can make you shout at your citizens.
After hours spent in the world of Age of Empires - Definitive Edition, we still don't have the answer to the real question: why should we play this remake? Gameplay-wise, the genre has seen a lot of improvements over the years, and the developers weren't bold enough to give a fresh start to the original title. At the end of the day, this seems more and more like a wasted opportunity.
A questionable operation.
Hopefully one day we can get a decent sequel in the series with the tight controls, intelligent AI, and fun city-building mechanics we deserve.