Saturday, August 20, 2011

Age of Empires Online Blows Minds and Wallets

Growing up, a lot of people broke their PC gaming cherry on the game Age of Empires.  So when it was announced that there would be a new release for the franchise, it was kind of a big deal.  Despite the excitement, the game took a quiet roll out of the starting gate without much fan fare.  But now that the buzz surrounding this title is growing, its time to break it all down.

Age of Empires Online is a single player game with a co-op option.  The core objective of the game remains the same as its predecessor.  Build an empire through resource management in an RTS setting and completing quests along the way.  Instead of slowly building one giant empire, you are tasked to managed your capitol city while constantly going out and rebuilding small areas from scratch over and over again with different goals each time.

This game has an Xbox party function that allows you to chat with players while in co-op mode or otherwise.  It says that there is a voice chat but no one I have encountered has knows how to turn it on.  There is an option to type in an open stream but there are too many people to really keep up with any discernible conversation.  Starting parties to a restricted stream is pretty easy, but that's about it.

The real discussion point is the price.  As of right now, Age of Empires Online is free as part of a pay-to-play setup.  The first several levels and numerous quests are free, but there comes a point where progressing will cost you.  Players are asked to pay to access other civilizations, weapons, armor, and additional quests.  Booster packs are about ten dollars, quest packs are about twenty dollars, and a Season One pass is a full blown one hundred dollars.  The Season Pass does include all of the currently available content and probably any content release over the next couple months.  But I am curious about how soon Season One will end Season Two will begin.  And I assume that when Season Two starts, there will be an exorbitant amount of money that I will be expected to pay all over again.

Right now the game is free and a lot of fun.  It has achievements that link to Xbox LIVE accounts and allows you to play with friends.  While I am on the fence about how much content I'm willing to pay for, the game is still worth checking out.

1 comment:

Linz said...

I love me some AoE, so I jumped on this bandwagon. I would say if you're a hardcore fan, you might be slightly disappointed, although I've not played nearly as much as Debbie has at this point. I just think that the original concept of building one giant civilization and destroying opponents was more fun than the current build a lot of tiny towns and completely brain-numbingly simple tasks. Time will tell, and hey - I love the price!