Has Microsoft published the approximate time period that span the 4 ages in AoE IV?
People are frequently comparing this to AoE II and its squarely medieval setting, but AoE IV feels more like it slots in between AoE II and AoE III in history, with some overlap. Has this been stated somewhere? Just curious to know as AoE II has clearly named ages and even though the game is far from historically accurate, you can roughly define its starting and ending years:
Dark Ages are normally taken from when the Western Roman Empire fell, around 470 AD.
The end of the Imperial Age and end of Middle Ages in general is around 1500.
If anything, from gameplay trailers AoE IV feels like it starts way later than ~400 AD.
You can find info about the time period for each civ in their descriptions here on the official site. For example, for the Rus they say they represent the civ over the years 882-1552 CE.
They don’t talk about Dark Age, Feudal Age, … but of Age 1, Age 2, … with possibly different meaning for every civ. I like this choice, it’s more accurate compared with AoE II.
The “age” thing does not necessarily align with actual historical periods. I’d rather interpret them as “villager/town/city phase” etc.
Like the entire medieval period is “feudal age” and feudalism lasted much longer in some places than the middle ages. There weren’t a thing called “castle age” or “imperial age”. If “dark age” is the real dark age you’d see a lot of round shields in Europe but I haven’t seen any.
If just consider the assets and units in the game, the time period is mostly focused on high/late middle ages + a little early modern, just like AOE2. There weren’t many common units that look like they come from early middle ages.
Yeah, I’m not concerned about the dates per se, but the unit variety and starting tech level seems more advanced than the equivalent Dark Age in AoE II. I mean, we don’t have militia with clubs and architecture also looks more modern than in AoE II’s first age. AoE IV does seem to cover a narrower time window, later in the Middle Ages.
Yeah, you did get my question. Thanks. I would have preferred AoE IV to bridge the “gap” between AoE I and AoE II to be honest. Even if accurate for the late Middle Ages, for some reason gunpowder units have always felt misplaced to me in AoE II (and I say this as a fan of the game) and AoE IV emphasizes them even more.
That would’ve been nice. We know alot more these days about the late roman and following “dark ages” compared to 1999 when AOE2 released (not so dark anymore in that regard). Would’ve been a cool period to discover.
Guess they went with the late middle ages to keep up the variety in tech (gunpowder, trebs, plate armored heavy cav, widespread use of combined arms tactics, big armies and field battles) and because it is iconic (“Knights in shining armor” is kind of the first thing a european would think of when asked about middle ages).
AOE2 was all over the place in what it tried to represent with the given tools (civs, units and tech) and reached back into late roman times (e.g. huns/goths campaigns) and forward into renaissance (e.g. spanish vs meso americans). But I liked that they went for it, since it opened up a lot of room for scenarios and campaigns (official ones as well as user created).
I guess for AOE4 they go the other way: Starting around the late AOE2 castle age with more specific content and less room to cover wider scenarios.
The generic units, technologies and architecture places the Feudal Age, Castle Age and Imperial Age of Age of Empires 2 in the time frame of 1000 AD till 1500 AD.
Especially if you look like when the units were originally supposed to be unlocked.
Knights were available in Feudal Age that’s why they look so similar to Man at Arms while Cavalier look a lot like Longswordman.
The knight and Man at Arms both use Kite Shields that become popular around 1000 AD while the Cavalier and the Longswordman use a Heater Shield which become the standard shield between 1200 and 1300 AD.
The unique units (Throwing Axeman or Berserker) are surprisingly often based on the “Dark Age” (500-1000 AD) and some civilisations also are (Goths or Vikings) are clearly Dark Age too.
The Huns are staight up an ancient civilisation and don’t belong into the game at all.
Age of Empires 4 doesn’t change the time frame it depicts (roughly 1000-1500 AD) but it doesn’t add anachronistic Dark Age Elements to later ages of the game.
I think everything before 1000 AD is supposed to be represented by the Dark Age ingame.
The focus is clearly on 1000-1500 AD with some exceptions like Streltsy that are from 1550 AD.
I think the time from 500-1000 AD is so different from 1000-1500 AD that it doesn’t make sense to have both in the same game.
I think the late Middle Ages was a double edged sword in this case. I’m very far from a history expert but it appears that late MA military units, although varied in the sense that we had gunpowder fighting alongside knights and such, were becoming homogeneous across the world. A globalization of military tech was beginning, if you will. All armies had similar backbones: pikes were ubiquitous, same as basic swordsmen and light/heavy cavalry and the gunpowder “secret” was out of the bag. So in short, in the late Middle Ages:
Unit composition in a single army: Relatively varied.
Unit composition between opposing armies: Relatively homogeneous.
This globalization trend continued until today in which we have almost identical composition of armies from all geographies. This makes sense because what’s proven to work, remains.
In that sense the criticism I have for AoE IV perceived lack of variety makes historical sense (the game is accurate-ish), but it detracts from the uniqueness of military units (most barracks, archery ranges, stables, etc. are a reskin with little, if any, functional differences).
Take the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of how varied were opposing ancient armies compared to something like in the ~1500 AD.
By the way, in the recent Gamescom Q&A the devs did admit that AoE IV takes place in a narrower, more recent time window than AoE II.