Age of Empires 2 was a game that I would spend hours playing when it first launched back in 1999. The studio brought everything that made the first Age of Empires so exciting and improved on it in major and impactful ways. The setting and concept were compelling, but what was most engrossing was the gameplay. Age of Empires 2 refined the real-time strategy genre formula in a way that transformed the industry moving forward. Originally built for the PC, I was skeptical it could make the move to the Xbox Series X|S and work, thankfully, I was wrong, and this is one of the best ways to play Age of Empires 2: The Definitive Edition.
Age of Empires has always been a PC-focused franchise, built to take advantage of a mouse and keyboard to play the game best. With the Age of Empires 2: The Definitive Edition on Xbox, Microsoft Game Studios are changing things, giving players a new way to play. While I walked in skeptical, after playing hours of the game and losing myself in the experience, I am happy to say they nailed it.
I will preface this by saying while I love the series, I am by no means a competitive player, so minor differences in speed and control may be lost on me. With that out of the way, I will say that Microsoft nailed the Age of Empires 2 feel using the controller. The team built the control scheme from the ground up, and it shows. There is a short tutorial that guides you through learning the new systems, and within about 30 minutes, it feels like second nature.
The interface has been adjusted to better suit the control system, and it works well. With a simple press of the right trigger, you can pull up menus, and the ability to just select and move units with various combinations, make the gameplay very fluid, even when dealing with a range of units. There are even various ways to select and order different units around, making the process feel very intuitive.
Beyond the new controls, the core of Age of Empires 2: The Definitive Edition remains the same. This is a revitalized version of the game countless players know and love, released all the way back in 1999. Remastered in 4K, this is the best Age of Empires 2 has ever looked. Even the game’s audio has been improved, bringing a new sense of clarity to the game and making the battles feel all the more epic and immersive.
Age of Empires 2: The Definitive Edition is more than just a facelift for the beloved classic. It retains the same elegant designs and systems that helped it become a long-lasting titan in the real-time strategy space. Furthermore, enhancements have been made to improve its already legendary status. AI enemies have been upgraded with strategies derived from massive amounts of online data, and UI elements have been added and improved for improved usability. Players can even zoom in and out of the battlefield to get a better sense of what’s going on.
The console version of Age of Empires 2: The Definitive Edition also includes new automation to make the tedious tasks feel a little more manageable. If you have ever played an RTS, you know how annoying it can always be to order your workers to find new resources and not sit idle. For Age of Empires 2: The Definitive Edition on console, the developers have added a way to automate processes like gathering resources.
“Age of Empires 2: The Definitive Edition remains a beloved classic as it makes its way to consoles.”
By pressing R3, you can bring up the Villager Priorities Menu, where you can adjust what sort of resources you want harvested based on the ratio set in the menu. While entirely optional, for someone who likes to build up a major force, this gives you the freedom to spend your time doing more of the things you enjoy. The automation goes beyond gathering, and you can even have workers auto-place farms by simply selecting the setting in the options menu.
While it makes things less tedious, it does not take away the strategy at the core of Age of Empires 2: The Definitive Edition. There is still a lot you can adjust and tweak to make it work the way you want, and should you want to be a bit more hands-on with the automation, players can also activate the Advanced Interface, where you can adjust the ratios, turn aspects off, or just control your workers as you did before this edition of the game. It is great to see these new features entirely optional while still presenting a new, more accessible way to play for players new to the game.
Age of Empires 2: The Definitive Edition remains a beloved classic as it makes its way to consoles. For those who grew up playing Age of Empires 2, this remaster brings them back to a familiar world and encourages the same strategies they have used for years. For newcomers, it serves as an introduction to a timeless classic – one that will continue to be supported for the foreseeable future.
It can be difficult to translate a PC-based experience to a console, but Age of Empires 2: The Definitive Edition has done it. It is clear that the game has been created with care and respect for its fans. Not only will longtime players enjoy revisiting old maps and campaigns in greater detail than ever before, but they will also bask in the nostalgia. Age of Empires 2: The Definitive Edition is a fantastic addition to any console RTS player’s library and a great way to revisit a classic in the genre.