Age of Empires IV is Relic Entertainment’s effort to “WOLOLOOOO” the franchise into the future, but the result is basically Age of Empires II again except with fewer features, fewer factions, some economic changes, and an online connection required for customization unlocks.
Age of Empires titles are typically fun across their various modes regardless of skill level, but Skirmish mode does a lot of the heavy lifting in IV. The campaign trades the traditional cutscenes for landscape shots and a narrator who sounds like she’s reciting Wikipedia pages, and scenario design ranges from decent to dull. There’s a handful of missions with premade armies to drag around so you can focus on basic tactics rather than building your castle, but given the game’s economic emphasis, you’ll mostly be focusing on your villages while throwing units at the enemy.
Ultimately, Age of Empires IV plays it far too safe for its own good, more aimed at pleasing traditionalists who weren’t keen on the third game than providing something new that demands to be played. Lacking campaigns means you will likely spend the majority of your time playing Skirmish. At best, it’s a new Xbox Game Pass curiosity, but it’s far from a historic return for the series. Age of Empire IV is available for $59.99 on PC.
Watch our full Review in 3 Minutes for Age of Empires IV.