Editor’s note: Ryan Smith is a longtime gamer and freelance writer who lives in Raleigh, NC. A graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in business and marketing, he has written in the past for WRAL Tech Wire and GameArgus.com. He currently plays Xbox 360 and PC as well as Nintendo DS. For story ideas, tips and feedback, he can be reached via e-mail (ryannicksmith@gmail.com)

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Ensemble Studios may have been dissolved once they made Halo Wars, but their spirit lives on in the new Age of Empires game developed by Robot Entertainment and later Supreme Commander developer Gas Powered Games.

Age of Empires: Online is a free to play game, with the option to download premium content, much like League of Legends. You start out with the option to play as the Greek or Egyptian civilizations and the option to upgrade those to “premium” civilizations by paying money. Premium civilizations give you added upgrades, units, cosmetic items and more.

In addition to the premium civilizations you can also purchase new game modes such as “The Defense of Crete” a horde type game mode where you fight off waves of enemies, purchased as a “booster pack” of content. More content is to be added frequently, with the option to purchase a “season pass” allowing you to get all premium content through the first six months.


What is unique about Age of Empires: Online is what goes on in between matches. Matches are no longer matches in the purest sense since the game takes on a RTS [real time strategy] meets MMORPG [massively multiplayer online role-playing game] structure. With AOE: O you get a persistent capital city that is basically your character, it levels up over time and you are able to add upgraded buildings and cosmetic items as you gain experience. You gain experience by completing quests which you receive from quest givers inside your capital city.

Once you accept one of these quests, that is when you start a classic Age of Empires match. These can be completed solo against the computer, cooperatively or even against other players. The matches themselves play great and it brings back a lot of fantastic memories playing Age of Empires 1.

Your Capital city also introduces such MMO elements such as crafting and trading with other cities. Also there are multiple chat channels where you can look for a group to complete missions, find PvP matches, or set up a material trade. You can then use those materials to craft more buildings for your capital city which lead to more upgrades and better units or buildings during quests- aka matches.

Whether you play AOE: O for free or purchase the premium content, it is a load of fun and if you ever enjoyed the classic AOE games, or any classic RTS, you will enjoy this game. It is a little cartoony, but very original in design and the matches themselves are addictive, and I love being able to reminisce.

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