Age of Empires II releases a new African expansion this week

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AOE2

16 years is a long time in any measure of your life. 16 years in a video game timeline however, is longer than eternity itself, or John Holme’s “talent”. And that’s just how long it has been since Age of Empires II: Age of Kings was released.

Pretty much one of the greatest strategy games ever made, Age of Empires II took a winning formula and improved on it in every way possible. Also, those Woad Raiders YOLOing their way through enemy ranks was priceless.

So it may be unusual that Age of Empires II is getting a new expansion. But it certainly is welcome.

To be specific, an expansion for the HD remake of Age of Empires II. It’ll be the second new expansion, after 2013’s The Forgotten that took a fan mod and made it all official-like. The African Kingdom will introduce four new factions to the series, each with their own campaign:

  • Malians
  • Berbers
  • Ethiopians
  • Portuguese

According to insider sources that I just made up, the Portuguese will have the tastiest economy, but the slowest unit production speed. Naval combat is also getting tweaked in this expansion, with developer Forgotten Empires explaining that such encounters will now be a more balanced affair:

AOE1

Water warfare is a tricky business in Age of Empires II. Most water maps are decided by who has the most galleys the quickest. Even though we tried to boost Fire Ships and Demolition Ships in The Forgotten, it didn’t touch the base problem: there is no counter system in the Feudal Age.

Because of that, flawless execution of a standard build order often meant more than having tactical insight and adapting to your enemy’s choices. Even though all are core elements of RTS games, we had the impression the balance was tipped too much to execution rather than tactical decisions. Time to go to the drawing board!

We figured that no matter how strong you make Fire Ships, they would have to counter large fleets of Galleys, which could’ve been massed easily for an entire age before you can get out your fire nozzles. So instead of making the Feudal Age a galley-fest, we decided to introduce 2 new ships to make a proper rock-paper-scissor system.

We’re still in the progress of balance testing and tweaking them properly, but so far, water maps have never been so fun and varied right off the bat. We can reveal however that the Fire Galley will be the first unit in the game with just 1 attack. And despite that, they rock your boat. Literally.

And to spice it up even more, one of the new civilizations will have a naval unique unit. Until recently its unit description in the game was “does funky stuff against galleys”, good thing we have an attentive testing team. Regardless, they still do funky stuff against galleys!

Neat! Back in the day, my tactic when it came to naval battles was to throw as many ships as possible at the enemy, until they ran out of lumber. Thank you, Zapp Brannigan school of military tactics. Other changes in The African Kingdoms include more unit-tweaking and new technologies, when it releases on November 5.

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And now to see if Cheese Steak Jimmy’s is still a valid code to use in the game.

Last Updated: November 4, 2015

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia's M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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