Age of Empires Online started development with Robot Entertainment, a private studio created by Tony Goodman, the founder of the defunct Ensemble Studios , which originally created the Age of Empires franchise. Development has later passed over to Gas Powered Games. The game was eventually released on August 16th, 2011. While the game is technically free-to-play, premium civilizations and content will cost money. The game is a persistent real-time strategy with numerous role-playing game elements.
The gameplay is similar to other Age of Empires games despite the mild change in art direction. Age of Empires Online can be played in singleplayer, co-op, and player vs. player. The game does not allow for offline play. Every player has a capital city which acts as an out of mission hub. Similar to the commercially unpopular Age of Empires III, the capital city is persistent and can be constantly upgraded, added to, and expanded. This is where most of the RPG aspects are introduced. Quests are accepted from NPCs in the various cities and capital city. This is also where items can be equipped, crafted, and sold.
After a quest is started from a city in either singleplayer or co-op, the player is loaded into a separate map. Age of Empires Online is very much in the same subgenre as StarCraft and other resource management-heavy real time strategy games. Usage of villagers and careful management of wood, gold, stone, and food are critical to success. Units are produced by a variety of buildings. Upgrades are also available for most units depending on how you've specialized your tech tree.
Win conditions often include complete defeat of your opponent, the building of a wonder, or getting certain units to a specified point on the map. There are challenge missions which progressively get harder and include in game time limits. Upon the completion of the quest's objectives, the player can continue exploring the map to recover any remaining treasure chests and is only required to return to his or her capital city when he or she feels everything has been accomplished. In cooperative play quest rewards are only given to those players who have the quest active. If the quest is not available, the second player will simply receive a chunk of experience points.
In January 2012 the addition of the Skirmish Hall (which can be placed in a players capital city) allows player to create custom game against AI opponents on a variety of map types, loot becomes purely cosmetic in these custom games and the player is allowed to play with a fully unlocked tech tree.
Empires & DLC
At release there were two playable empires; the Greeks and the Egyptians. The Persian empire became available in October of 2011 and the Celtic empire became available in March of 2012.
Each empire features a campaign specific to their region. Some units are shared, but for the most part each civilization has unique units. There are other variations among the empires such as; Egyptians advance their civilization by building temples whereas Greeks research the next age at their town center. Persian civilizations (Pro) begin the game at level 20.
Units and Buildings
Units are aesthetically unique, but some have shared titles and purposes among the currently available civilizations. Here is a list of both the shared and unique units and buildings currently available.
- Villager - Gathers resources, constructs buildings, repairs siege units and buildings.
- Caravan - Travels between markets and town centers to generate gold trade.
- Fishing Boat - Gathers fish (food) from water areas.
- Merchant Transport - Transports units over water.
- Spearman - Basic infantry unit. Cheap and strong against cavalry.
- Slinger - Basic ranged unit. Throws rocks. (Celtic and Egyptian only)
- Bowman - Basic archer unit. (Celtic and Persian only)
- Scout - Fast and good for exploring the map. Can not be reproduced.
- Battering Ram - Siege unit that is very strong against buildings. (Greek and Persian only)
- Trireme - Standard all-purpose military ship. (Egyptian and Greek only)
- Fire Ship - Ship specializing in ship to ship warfare. (Egyptian and Greek only)
- Palintonon - Extremely strong siege unit. Long production time. (Egyptian, Greek, and Persian only)
- Town Center - Main base building. Produces villagers and upgrades.
- Storehouse - Serves as a drop-off point for resources. Upgrades farms.
- Wall - Upgradable structure. Prevents entry. Can be turned into gate.
- Watch Post - Removes fog of war from an area and maintains line of sight.
- Dock - Produces ships and serves as drop-off point for resources.
- Farm - The only infinite resource in the game. Produces food.
- Barracks - Basic military training building. Produces infantry units and upgrades.
- Archery Range - Produces ranged units and upgrades. (Celtic, Greek, and Persian only)
- Stables - Produces cavalry units and upgrades.
- Siege Workshop - Produces siege equipment and upgrades.
- Fortress - Strong defensive building. Produces heavy units and unique units.
- House - Increases population capacity by five.
- Guard Tower - Simplest defensive structure. Fires arrows at enemies.
- Armory - Researches unit upgrades for most military units.
- Market - Produces caravan and allows for exchange of resources.
- Wonder - Construction is occasionally win condition.
- Long Swordsman - Infantry unit good against other infantry.
- Woad Raider - Strong infantry unit with rage upgrade.
- Champion - Heavily armoured infantry unit with area damage.
- Horseman - Basic cavalry unit meant to counter other cavalry.
- Carpentom - Chariot unit with ranged javelins.
- Ram - Siege unit effective against buildings.
- Stone Thrower - Similar to Palintonons. Long range siege.
- Swanship - Basic ship. Good against infantry.
- Druid - Support unit. Heals friendly units.
- Augur - Support unit. Uses animals for buffs and converts enemy units.
- Headhunter - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Gaesatae - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Longbowman - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- War Chariot - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Gold Mine - Builds on top of gold deposits and used as dropoff point.
- Bard Hall - Utility building. Upgrades infantry units.
- Sacred Grove - Utility Building. Produces support units.
- Axeman - Infantry unit good against other infantry units.
- Camel Rider - Basic Egyptian mounted unit. Good against other cavalry.
- Chariot Archer - Fast and powerful ranged cavalry unit.
- War Elephant - Very strong heavy cavalry unit. Good against groups of enemies.
- Elephant Archer - Ranged heavy cavalry unit.
- Siege Tower - Siege unit extremely strong against buildings.
- Catapult - Strong all purpose siege unit.
- Catapult Trireme - Upgraded ship for siege.
- Priestess of Ra - Heals units and empowers buildings.
- Priest of Set - Causes "chaos" amongst enemies. Heals allies out of battle.
- Priest of Ptah - Converts enemy units and buildings. Heals allies out of battle.
- Armored Elephant - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Desert Archer - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Desert Cavalry - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Desert Swordsman - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Khopesh Swordsman - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Temple of Ra - Passes civ into bronze age. Produces healer units.
- Temple of Set - Passes civ into silver age. Produces healer units.
- Temple of Ptah - Passes civ into gold age. Produces healer units.
- Hypaspist - Infantry unit good against other infantry units.
- Hoplite - Infantry unit strong against cavalry.
- Toxotes - Basic ranged unit. Adept at damaging infantry.
- Peltast - Spear throwing unit that is strong against ranged units.
- Gastraphetes - Long range unit strong against infantry.
- Sarissophoroi - Ranged cavalry unit which is strong against other ranged units.
- Prodromos - Fast cavalry unit meant for fighting other cavalry.
- Hippikon - Heavily armored cavalry unit.
- Ballista - Ranged siege unit with area effect.
- Ballista Trireme - Upgraded ship for siege.
- Priest - Converts enemy units and heals friendly units out of battle.
- Hetairoi - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Helepolis - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Somatophylax - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Pezhetairoi - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Phalanx - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Academy - Allows research of base upgrades.
- Temple - Produces priests and upgrades.
- Sparabara - Cheap and sturdy early infantry unit.
- Immortal - Unique unit capable of ranged and infantry roles.
- Mounted Archer - Fast moving ranged unit.
- Takabara - Javelin throwing unit strong against other ranged units.
- Asabara - Basic mounted cavalry.
- Cataphract - Heavy mounted cavalry.
- War Wagon - Siege unit strong against ranged and towers.
- Galley - Basic naval unit.
- Mangonel Galley - Siege naval unit strong against buildings.
- Ram Ship - Naval unit strong against other ships.
- Magus - Support unit. Heals allies and converts enemies.
- Royal Guard - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Kardaka - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Royal Archer - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Scythed Chariot - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Scythian Mounted Archer - Unique unit, requires advisor.
- Immortal Camp - Trains immortals and upgrades them.
- War Academy - Trains magus and researches upgrades.
Installation and Requirements
- OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7
- Processor: Dual Core, 2Ghz or higher
- Video card: 128 MB Shader 2 supported card or higher
- Memory: Win XP SP3/Vista Home Basic – 1GB, Vista Premium, Ultimate/Windows 7 (32 bit) – 1.5GB; Windows 7 (64 bit) – 2.5GB
- Hard drive space: 2.5GB
- Internet: Broadband