Age of Empires II: The Definitive Edition
Release Date: The original Age of Empires II was released all the way back in 1999. An HD Edition came out in 2013 and more recently, a Definitive Edition was launched in 2019.
Genre: A classic Real-Time Strategy.
Best for: New players to the genre, nostalgic and insufferable old bats, people with little to no knowledge about the Middle Ages who want to start playing something but don’t know where to start.
Excels at: Authenticity. Ease to play. High Middle Ages.
Feature List: 35 Civilizations (expanding with continuously new downloadable content). 22 Campaigns with the possibility of adding 9 more from paid DLC. Hundreds of units ranging from basic militia and man-at-arms to Late Middle Ages Hand Cannoneers, Paladins, Camel Riders, Siege Onagers, Bombard Cannons, and more. Map Editor.
I’ll start this list going full vanilla with Age of Empires. Every single time anyone mentions the Real-Time-Strategy genre, it’s inevitable that Age of Empires II is the game that instantly comes to mind. The seminal RTS was released all the way back in 1999 and it still remains one of the most played games in the genre. The 1999 version of the game was released with 13 civilizations that would advance through the Ages, curiously named “Dark Age”, “Feudal Age”, “Castle Age” and the “Imperial Age”. The reason for that nomenclature is barbaric in nature because none of those things is in the least significant to the period it tries to portray in-game. The proper name should have been: “Early Middle Ages” instead of “Dark Age”- and this is the period between the 5th and 10th centuries, starting with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and ending with the formation of the Holy Roman Empire. “High Middle Ages” – This is the period most people envision in their head when the term medieval Europe is invoked amidst friendly forums and un-academic discussions. It was the time of the Crusades. It was a period of unparalleled economical and demographic growth. The date to put an end to this period is usually established around the end of the Black Death Plague which finally stop Europe’s uncontrolled growth in its tracks.
While Age of Empires II expertly encapsulates the popular look and feel of what a medieval town/ hamlet) city center could look like if it was ripped straight out of a history book, it’s realism leaves a lot to be desired: the battles are any arcade affair of whom can girls the most arbitrary counters (rock-paper-scissors) to more rapidly dwindling the enemy’s health bar, no Morale, no routing mechanics, no terrain modifiers, no chain of command, no communications systems, etc. Nothing is ever simulated, and in Age of Empires II defense, nor it should. it strikes a perfect balance of a game with gorgeous graphics, involved but not overly complex mechanics, and a feel of place seldom seen elsewhere. If you know nothing about the middle ages and want to start somewhere, have fun with well-designed single-player campaigns and enjoy a revitalized classic you might have missed, then Age of Empires II The Definitive Edition is the game for you.