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Age of Empires 4: release date, trailers and features

After more than 12 years in hibernation, the Age of Empires series is back for its fourth outing. In August, publisher Microsoft Studios announced that Age of Empires 4 was alive and kicking, and that it was being developed by Relic Entertainment, the team behind Homeworld and Company of Heroes (which is a hell of a lot of pedigree).

[Update: Though we don’t have any more information on Age of Empires 4’s release date just yet, we do now know that the 4K definitive edition of the original will be released on February 20[1], following a four month delay.] 

This article will tell you everything you need to know about Age of Empires 4, and we’ll update it when new information comes to light, so make sure you check back regularly.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The latest installment to the historical real-time strategy series Age of Empires.
  • When can I play it? There’s no release window just yet but it’ll be late 2018 at the earliest
  • What can I play it on? Windows 10 PC is the only confirmed platform

What is Age of Empires 4?

Age of Empires 4 is the latest installment to the historical real-time strategy series Age of Empires, which began life way back in 1997. 

Follow-ups to the original were released in 1999 and 2005, and there’s been a couple of spin-offs during that period, including two Nintendo DS titles and the popular Age of Mythology, which took inspiration from myths and legends rather than history. Aside from those DS games, the series is only on PC. 

Age of Empires 4 is the first game in the series developed by Relic Entertainment – all the other Age of Empires games have been made by Ensemble Studios, which folded in 2009. Relic says it wants to “fuse historical context with deep strategic gameplay, and to bring this franchise back to the forefront of gaming and into the hands of its beloved community”. 

Age of Empires 4: release date 

Unfortunately, no release date has been announced for Age of Empires 4 – not even a rough one. It could be a way off though, because all we’ve seen of the game is a trailer filled with concept art, which suggests development is in its early stages. If we were betting on it, we’d say it won’t be until late next year at the earliest.

What platforms will Age of Empires 4 release on? 

So far, all we know is that it’s coming to Windows 10 PC – so bad luck if you’re running an older version (although this could be a good excuse to upgrade). However, with Microsoft Studios as the publisher the door is open for a release on Xbox One, too, although there’s been no word on that front. For the same reason, it’s unlikely to come to other consoles, such as the PS4 or the Nintendo Switch.

Age of Empires 4: trailers 

The announcement of the game was marked with a trailer – and it’s still the only one we’ve seen to date. It’s exclusively concept art for the game, depicting large scale battles between various groups. Check it out below:

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Age of Empire 4: gameplay features

Previous Age of Empires games have focused on one period of history: Age of Empires 3 chronicled the European colonization of the Americas, for example. 

However, judging by the trailer above, Age of Empires 4 could paint with a broader historical picture, with lots of empires from across time returning from previous games in the series. 

In the trailer, you can glimpse Native Americans, British Redcoats, Romans and Japanese samurai. It’s possible that this could just be demonstrative of the art style and themes, but we’d be surprised if they didn’t end up featuring in the final game in some capacity.

That said, it’s unlikely to break history by pitting armies from two eras against each other in the campaign, so expect a story that plays out over an extended timeline. And then perhaps the Romans could clash with the Redcoats in online multiplayer.

In terms of actual gameplay, we wouldn’t expect it to deviate too far from the formula that fans of the series know and love – it would be odd for the developer not to mine that ore of support. So, there will be the usual 4X fare (explore, expand, exploit and exterminate). However, the last Age of Empires game was more than 10 years ago, so we’re expecting some changes in terms of UI and mechanics. 

Age of Empires 4: what we’d like to see 

A sleeker UI

The Age of Empires games have always had decent UIs – most of the stuff you need is two or at most three clicks away and, generally, if you hover over a button you can find out what it does. But going back to it now, it looks a bit old fashioned, with a large box covering most of the bottom section of the screen, and can be overwhelming at first glance.

If the series is going to attract new players (and the more the merrier) then the UI needs to be sleek and inviting. Age of Empires Online, another spin-off, might perhaps be a good guide: that game had much less on screen at any one time, allowing you to see more of the battlefield. Smaller, contextual menus that only appear when you click on certain elements would work well.

Revamped unit tactics

The Age of Empires games do boast military tactics, and the positioning and stances of your units can turn a battle. But largely, fights are won by the biggest army, and they are over quickly. We’d like to see tactics play a bigger role in battles, and for it to be easier to make small adjustments to groups of units so they do exactly what you want.

There’s hope here: Relic has a lot of pedigree in this field. Imagine Age of Empires with Company of Heroes-style unit movement when you got close to an enemy’s base. That’s not what Relic will be shooting for (this is about clashes of large armies rather than small strike forces, after all), but we’re confident it will be more finessed than anything else we’ve seen from the series so far.

Multiple cities

Age of Empires revels in its smaller scale. You start with a town hall and build out from there, never really expanding beyond a single settlement. Rise of Nations, also published by Microsoft, could be a good yard stick for how the game should expand; in that game you could build multiple cities and combine them into large territories.

If you apply that to Age of Empires then you get multiple hubs of production: one town could focus on food production, and transport the finished product to another nearby town, which is itself churning out military units. Planning out the structure of your empire, rather than just a single city, would add another layer to the game.

References

  1. ^ 4K definitive edition of the original will be released on February 20 (news.xbox.com)
  2. ^ best Xbox One games (www.techradar.com)

Bumper Bargains: Offers

Check Out Elon Musk’s $600 ‘Boring Company’ flamethrower

It looks as if Elon Musk has been on the roof again knocking back a few whiskeys. We certainly wouldn’t be surprised if those rooftop parties atop the Tesla Gigafactory are where he gets some of his outlandish ideas. So what’s he cooked up now?

A Boring Company flamethrower with a retail price of £600, apparently. Need some background? Well, the man behind Tesla, SpaceX, and the Hyperloop is also the man behind The Boring Company, an early-stage project that aims to build vast networks of tunnels containing high-speed electric sleds to carry cars, thereby helping to ease traffic congestion at street level.

To raise funds for the venture, which has already started some experimental digging beneath SpaceX’s base in Hawthorne, California, Elon Musk recently sold a bunch of Boring Company-branded caps at £20 apiece. In December 2017, Musk tweeted that when the hats sold out, “we will start selling The Boring Company flamethrower.” Just like all those years ago when he said he wanted to launch and land a space rocket, some people simply chuckled at the absurdity of the idea.

Others shook their head and smiled and said, “That crazy guy.” But a few kept a straight face, took a deep breath, and said, “Y’ know, he probably will.” And so, just weeks after those caps sold out, we present The Boring Company flamethrower, priced at £600. OK, there’s been no official announcement yet.

What we do know is that the web address boringcompany.com/flamethrower recently started taking visitors to a page with a password box. With most online passwords reported to be ridiculously obvious, Twitter user FalconGridFin typed in a ridiculously obvious password: Flame. And it worked (it’s now been changed, but not to “123456”). He grabbed a screenshot showing a Boring Company-branded flamethrower with a pre-order button under it.

Beneath that is a note saying, “Prototype picture above. Final production flamethrower will be better.” According to The Verge, the flamethrower looks like an Airsoft rifle that’s been modified to shoot flames, but until someone gets their hands on it, we won’t know for sure.

While the caps look to have been an easy sell for Musk, it’s not so clear if there’s a market for Boring Company flamethrowers. We can only think of busy chefs who might want to toast a very large tray of bruleed Key lime tarts in a single flash, or die-hard Musk fans who’re keen on collecting every one of his proffered items. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see whether the flamethrower is really a thing.

Though it probably is …

Editors’ Recommendations

2019 Jeep Cherokee Release Date, Price and Specs

The spotter directs me to put the driver’s side of the 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk in a ditch, keeping the other up on the high line of this off-road course at a Jeep-sponsored press drive outside of Los Angeles, California. As I inch forward, the ditch gets deeper and the Jeep tilts to the left – at this point, I can actually reach out the window and pluck a dandelion from the ground. Another few feet forward and the Cherokee is back on level ground again, ready for the next tricky obstacle.

No, most folks won’t need to side-hill their daily driver on their regular commute. But for those who do – and those who like knowing they could if they wanted to – there is the Jeep Cherokee.

I got it all under control, Mom.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The Cherokee is a midsize crossover that slots in between the newly redesigned Compass and larger Grand Cherokee. It’s available with a choice of front- or four-wheel drive in base Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited and top-end Overland trims.

A butch Trailhawk trim is available, as well, but only with 4×4 capability. If you hated the front end of the old Cherokee, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The daytime running lights and forward lights are now combined into one housing, reminiscent of what you see on the new Compass.

The result is way less polarizing, for sure. That said, if you loved the front end of the old Cherokee… well, you can also breathe a sigh of relief. Those new headlights still wrap around the fenders just a bit, so it doesn’t lose all of its funky Cherokee-ness.

Both fans and foes of the previous design should find this redesign to be a nice compromise. The 2019 Cherokee comes with a choice of three powertrains. The base 2.4-liter Tigershark inline-four and the optional 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 carry over largely unchanged from the previous Cherokee, but new for 2019, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is available – the same one you’ll find under the hood of the JL Wrangler, although without the eTorque mild-hybrid system.

The V6 puts out 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty for pushing the Cherokee up and over the hills near Malibu, and more than enough grunt for quick merges and passes in notoriously hellacious Los Angeles traffic. On more engaging, twisty back roads, the Cherokee offers confident, nicely weighted steering and controlled body motions. The revamped nine-speed automatic transmission has a tendency to upshift too soon, all in the name of fuel efficiency, but thankfully a Sport mode is included as part of the Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system, which holds each gear a bit longer to keep you in the heart of the powerband.

33 A brand-new look for the 2019 Jeep Cherokee

The 2.0-liter turbo four does equally well in these scenarios, offering just one less pony than the V6, but with a healthier 295 pound-feet of torque.

And while it doesn’t noticeably affect the Cherokee’s handling, I find it to be pretty buzzy and coarse in its sound. It’s a bit like driving a bumblebee, droning through the torque curve with an annoyingly loud hum. There’s plenty of competition in this CUV segment, but none can match the Cherokee in off-road chops, especially in Trailhawk trim.

While all Cherokees get driving modes for Snow and Sand/Mud, only the Trailhawk gets an extra parameter for Rock, not to mention a locking rear differential, a 1-inch lift and skid plates. On an off-road route north of Malibu, I’m able to take advantage of the Cherokee’s class-leading approach, departure and breakover angles. The newest Jeep easily tackles steep climbs up rocky paths, and sharp crests that would leave any of its competitors high-centered.

The Cherokee Trailhawk even has a low-range gear in its four-wheel-drive system, allowing it to scale a steep hill full of loose dirt and rocks like it ain’t no thang. The Trailhawk-specific Select-Speed Control is a kind of cruise control for low-speed rock crawling. A push of the button and the Cherokee can completely take over throttle and braking duties, effortlessly driving itself through a boulder-strewn section of the trail.

Personally, I prefer to be more in control in these types of situations, but while this might not be super necessary for trail bosses, it’s nice to know the technology is there for those who want it, or those who are still honing their off-road skills.

The Cherokee is equally comfortable on the pavement, with a controlled and comfortable ride and strong engine options.

FCA US LLC

Driving the same off-road loop in both 3.2- and 2.0-liter Cherokees, you’d think the turbo engine’s added torque would stand out during low-speed acceleration. But in reality, what jumps out the most is throttle sensitivity; It’s much more difficult to keep a steady speed with the smaller engine. Throttle control is imperative when driving off road, lest you find yourself buried in soft sand (or worse).

And while I’m able to get the hang of it toward the end of my short test loop, if you pride yourself on steady throttle control, be prepared to do some re-learning. Driver assistance aids carry over from the old Cherokee. Blind-spot monitoring is standard on higher-level trims, or available as part of an option package on lower trims.

Lane departure warning, park assist, adaptive cruise control with full stop-and-go capability and forward collision warning and braking are all part of an optional technology package on higher trims. The Cherokee also gets a new hands-free power liftgate, which is standard on Overland models and available on the Limited trim. Jeep’s Uconnect infotainment system gets a bit of an upgrade in terms of resolution and graphics, maintaining its spot as one of the best interfaces on the market.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on both the base 7-inch or optional 8.4-inch touchscreen, the latter of which now has pinch-to-zoom capability. The interior hasn’t changed much, and that’s a good thing. The design is rugged, while offering comfortable seats and headroom for all but the tallest of drivers.

However, even though the Cherokee gets a bit more cargo space behind the rear seats for this year, up to 25.8 cubic feet from 24.6, it still falls behind competitors like the SB© toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

The Cherokee’s cabin remains a decent place for a weekday commute or a weekend adventure.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

A base Cherokee Latitude with front-wheel drive comes in at £23,995, not including £1,195 for destination, while the range-topping Overand starts at £36,275. Four-wheel drive can be had on all trims for an additional £1,500, and the off-road-ready Trailhawk starts at £33,320. The Cherokee is far from everyone’s cup of tea.

In this price point there are crossovers that handle better, look sleeker and offer more tech.

It’s only with the Cherokee, however, that you can take the shortcut home through the woods and live to tell the tale.

The best solid state drives

Looking for a massive upgrade to your computer storage? We probably don’t have to tell you about the lightning-fast speeds that solid state drives provide: The best SSD options are now bigger, more affordable, and more compatible than ever, which makes this a good time to buy. If you’re looking for a storage option that also comes with a significant speed boost, we have the top options in several different price ranges for you to consider.

Note on hard drive capacity: Some companies quote capacity after overhead, and others before. This leads to uneven rounding practices, and explains why you see some drives at 256GB and some at 250GB. Even then, it’s rare for a drive to have exactly its stated capacity, though variance is generally less than 10GB.

The Best

Samsung 860 Pro 256GB (£141)

This 2.5-inch SSD gets a lot of attention as a broadly excellent upgrade choice for a variety of needs.

Samsung has plenty of experience creating solid state drives, and the 860 Pro is one of the best SSD products yet, combining both simplicity and quality performance. The interface for this drive is SATA 6Gb/s, with a sequential read speed of 540 megabytes per second and a write speed of 520 MB/s. Our review found it to be one of the quickest SATA drives available. Like most of the SSDs on our list, the 860 Pro comes in several different size options ranging from 256GB to 4TB of storage, with costs varying accordingly.

We picked the 256GB version for a couple reasons. It’s a good size for an all-purpose SSD designed for the general user, and it provides a widely-shared base storage number to help you compare it with other models. The Samsung 860 Pro starts at £130 for the 256GB model, and goes up from there depending on the amount of storage you’re looking for.

It’s not the cheapest SSD out there, but it offers the best balance of performance and price, and it comes with a five-year warranty. Chances are this thing will outlast most of the other components in your PC. Read our full review.

Buy it now from: Newegg Samsung

The Rest

Western Digital Blue 1TB SSD (£299)

This is another great SSD model that gets frequent recommendations for upgraders and has our full support. Note that we picked the 1TB for more robust storage options, but there are three different sizes available depending on your needs.

It’s available in SATA or M.2 configurations, and two smaller sizes — 256GB and 512GB. The Western Digital Blue 1TB SATA version offers sequential read speeds up to 488 MB/s and write speeds up to 520 MB/s. It’s not exactly the fastest drive on the market, but it’s quick enough to keep up with most users, especially for such a killer price.

Read our full review Buy it now from: Amazon

Samsung 960 Pro 512GB (£300)

If you need more space than a few hundred GBs and are interested in a high-quality, forward-looking SSD, we highly recommend the 960 Pro 512GB from Samsung.

Some of the specs are indeed similar to the 860 Pro model, including 3D V-NAND, but the differences are stark. The 960 gets sequential read speeds up to 2,700 megabytes per second and write speeds up to 1,900 MB/s, making it one of the best SSD options in terms of speed. Why such a big difference between the two models?

This is the first M.2 PCI Express-only model on our list. Replacing SATA with this newer interface allows for a bundle of new tricks, including better performance for certain types of data and greater compatibility with cutting edge protocols designed to increase efficiency. Of course, you should make sure that your computer can handle M.2 PCI Express attachments before jumping on the 960 Pro.

Support will be dependent on your motherboard. Buy it now from: Amazon

Intel 750 Series 1.2TB (£795+)

While we mentioned PCI Express, we haven’t yet talked about NVMe, or Non-Volatile Memory Express.

It’s a very similar connection standard that uses the same physical interface, but also adds additional features specifically for storage purposes. The Intel 750 SSD shows off the advantages of this approach with its flexible installation options and high speeds. This is obviously going to make the drive extra fast — in ideal scenarios, it can exceed transfer speeds of two gigabytes per second — but the high-end SSD has other advantages, too.

One of the most interesting is the choice between add-in card and 2.5-inch form factors, which allow you to pick a design that fits your upgrade plans and current drive standards. The lightning speeds and compatibility of the card put it on the top of our list, but you’ll have to pay at least £1,000 for the 1TB model. Just make sure you really want it!

Read our full review Buy it now from: Amazon Newegg

Updated 1-23-18 to add Samsung 860 Pro and 960 Pro.

Editors’ Recommendations

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