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Age of Empires 4 release date, beta, gameplay, trailers, system requirements and more

age of empires 4
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Age of Empires 4 marks the long-awaited return of the legendary real-time strategy series. After more than a decade and a half since the last new entry in the franchise, Age of Empires 4 is coming this year.

The fourth mainline entry in the Age of Empires series was first confirmed all the way back in 2017. Frustratingly, in the following years additional information on the title was remarkably thin on the ground. However, over the last few months Microsoft and developer Relic Entertainment have finally given fans a deluge of fresh details plus a confirmed release date for this October. 

The series is beloved primarily for its engaging real-time strategy and tactical depth. Based on what’s been shown, Age of Empires 4 certainly looks like it will carry on the franchise traditional of rewarding smart play while punishing those who don’t put in the time to learn its intricacies. No wonder long-time fans are so excited. 

After 16 years of anticipation, Age of Empire 4 definitely has a lot to live up to when it finally launches next month. Until then, here’s everything we currently know about Age of Empires 4.

Age of Empires 4 release date 

During the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase at E3 2021, Age of Empires 4 was given a release date of October 28, 2021. The game will be launching on Steam and Xbox Game Pass on this date. 

Age of Empires 3 originally launched in October 2005, meaning that Age of Empires 4 will release almost exactly 16 years after its predecessor. Let’s hope it was worth the wait.  

Age of Empires 4 trailers 

Several trailers have been released for Age of Empires 4. The game was originally announced with a slick teaser trailer back in 2017, which both confirmed the game’s existence and set up which conflicts and civilizations would be included.  

A relatively lengthy gameplay trailer was released in April. This deep-dive trailer shows off exactly what Age of Empires 4 looks like in motion, and puts several of the game’s core features in the spotlight.  

Additional trailers that have been released include the original gameplay reveal trailer from 2019, as well as the short (but rather sweet) E3 2021 gameplay trailer. The marketing blitz didn't stop there, most recently at Gamescom 2021, another gameplay trailer was shown off. 

Age of Empires 4 gameplay 

Earlier this year Tom's Guide was invited to an Age of Empires 4 preview event. During this press briefing, the team at Relic Entertainment talked us through the core pillars of the latest installment in the long-running series and gave us a deeper understanding of what playing Ages of Empire 4 will actually be like. 

In summary, Age of Empires 4 won’t be dramatically reinventing the classic Age of Empires formula. This fourth mainline entry in the series will retain the core real-time strategy gameplay but will update it in several fundamental ways. 

It has been confirmed that there will be eight fully playable civilizations at launch: Chinese, Delhi Sultanate, English, Mongols, French, Abbasid Dynasty, Holy Roman Empire, and Rus. Each will look and play slightly differently, which means either control of them or fighting them will require a unique strategy.

Developer Relic Entertainment has already hinted that the plan is to launch with eight civilizations but grow the list post-release. Expect the game to be supported for years to come, after all, Ages of Empires 3 latest re-release came in 2020. 

There will be four campaigns in Age of Empires 4: Norman, 100 Years War, Mongols, and Rus. One big change is that these campaigns won’t focus on the life of one historical figure as in previous games but will instead span multiple rulers over whole generations. 

age of empires iv

(Image credit: Microsoft)

An example given is that in the Norman campaign you begin playing as William the Conqueror but over time his kids will take the crown and you’ll have to navigate the conflicts that arise from a disputed succession. Then another generation of kids will follow afterward, and the cycle continues. 

Age of Empires 4 aims to modernize the series, which may mean stripping back some of the more complex systems seen in previous games. While this might set alarm bells ringing for series veterans, it could allow the game to be much more welcoming to newcomers than previous Age of Empires titles.  

Creative Director Adam Isgreen told GamesRadar: “Generally speaking, the longer a genre exists, the games that are responsible for taking it forward tend to make it more complicated."

With Age of Empires 4, it was important for us to be like, 'okay, how do we back away from that?'. We do not want to take on all of the complexity that we see in RTS games today," Isgreen said. "This is a fresh start for us. We want to modernize the series and that means we are going to do things differently."

age of empires iv

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Plus, in very welcome news, it looks like microtransactions won’t be a thing in Age of Empires 4. The focus will instead be on more fleshed-out expansions. Adam Isgreen told PCGamesN that: “The idea of microtransactions in a real-time strategy game isn’t a thing. DLC, expansions – all of that is things that we’re going to be exploring for Age 4.” 

Age of Empires 4 beta 

A closed beta was held for Ages of Empires 4 in August of this year. The beta was only available to participants in the Age Insider program and was held under a strict NDA so no new gameplay footage has surfaced online.

With the game now just over a month away the chances of any further betas seem slim. If you're desperate to play Age of Empires 4 unfortunately at this point you're probably going to have to wait for the full release. 

Age of Empires 4 console version 

While Age of Empires 4 is being published by Xbox Game Studios and will be launching day one on Xbox Game Pass, currently there are no plans for the game to come to either the Xbox One or Xbox Series X (or the PS5). 

The Age of Empire series has long been associated with PC gaming, and the games typically play best with a mouse and keyboard setup rather than on a controller. However, Adam Isgreen did comment on the possibility of a console version on the XboxEra podcast. 

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He said: “Are we thinking about it? Absolutely. Do I have anything to announce about the console version? No, but just like with the Age of Mythology thing, we hear you.” 

Age of Empires 4 system requirements 

Age of Empires 4 will be launching exclusively on PC this October. If you’re hoping to play on day one then you’ll need to know your rig is up to scratch. Below are the minimum system requirements for Age of Empires 4.

OS: Windows 10 64bit
Processor: Intel Core i5-6300U
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Intel HD 520
DirectX: Version 12
Storage: 50 GB 

Age of Empires 4 outlook 

age of empires iv

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Fans have been waiting a long time for the next mainline entry in the Age of Empires series, so Age of Empires 4 definitely has a lot to live up to. The talk of modernizing the game might have some players concerned, but the gameplay looks slick and the promise of future meaty expansions is exciting. 

It’s been a long time coming but Age of Empires 4 definitely seems like it could be the sequel that players have waited more than 15 years for, October can’t get here soon enough. 

Rory is a staff writer at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics including tech news, deals, gaming, streaming and more. When he’s not writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found watching a borderline unhealthy amount of movies and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.