What better way to pass the time till Age of Empires IV comes out than to give these a shot?
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Talk about Age of Empires-like games. Many games Command and Conquer and Starcraft’s modern competitors have tried to emulate Ensemble’s original RTS design, but few have come close. No newcomer has been able to unseat these titans from their gilded thrones since those glorious days.
In October 2021, 16 years after the debut of Age of Empires III, the makers of Age of Empires will finally release a fourth game in the series. Alternatively, we’ve put together a list of six strategy games that we think are worth checking out because they all follow the same basic idea.
Despite the fact that Command and Conquer and Starcraft II are both RTS games, we decided not to include them because they are heavily influenced by their different settings. Due to the fact that Age of Empires is primarily a historical strategy game, the RTS games we’ll be discussing will mostly be based on it.
1. Empire Earth
Empire Earth would have been developed if you took the mechanical base of AoE and applied the long-term design aims of Civilization. From the prehistoric age all the way up to the near-future, this is a wonderful alternative to Ensemble’s colossus.
You’re still playing a game of Civ in real-time, which makes up for the lack of depth and nuance Age of Empires had owing to its more focused time periods. You had to control sections of land before you could construct on them in Empire Earth 2, which was a minor innovation. This boosted the map’s strategic value, especially when late-game resources became more plentiful and valuable. We’re not talking about Empire Earth 3, but GOG.com is now selling the original two games for a reasonable price.
2. Rise of Nations
To put it another way, Rise of Nations is more focused with translating principles from turn-based strategy games like Civilization and Age of Empires into real-time, rather than directly taking on Age of Empires.
Even still, the location it landed in, which spans the entirety of human history, is remarkably similar to both Empire Earth and Age of Empires, which are both video games. There are 18 civilizations to choose from, each with its own unique units and abilities. They are completely separate from the real world, and you can create them however your heart desires.
3. 0 A.D.
From a conversion hack for Age of Empires 2 to an open-source, free historical RTS game, 0 A.D. has had over 100 contributors in its two decades of development. Even though Age of Empires IV is soon to be released, this game is still a popular alternate to Age of Empires I because it only covers the first century CE. Also, it offers a more complex economy structure compared to that of Age of Empires.
In 2013, an IndieGoGo attempt to raise $160,000 fell short of its goal, and no release date has yet been set.
This Viking-themed RTS game is perhaps one of the better candidates to take on Age of Empires in the modern RTS genre. If you’re looking for something different from the other games on our list, go no further than this modern take on an old classic. One of the roughly a dozen fictional Viking tribes that landed on the border of new, undiscovered territory in Northgard is yours to command.
While battling mythical monsters and other hostile tribes, you’ll need to build up your community and tame the countryside surrounding it. Indirect control and a winter period necessitate planning and preparation, or your town will starve to death. Shiro Games has given the game a lot of love and support over the years, with fresh material and game types, making it a unique experience for each clan.
5. Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
A little-known fact about the history of Star Wars video games is that Galactic Battlegrounds was also developed by Ensemble. Age of Empires III was released in 2001, just a few years after the studio’s wildly popular Age of Empires II. Age of Empires with a Star Wars skin is basically what this game is, but there’s more to it than that.
This is not the best Star Wars-themed video game ever made, even with the Clone Wars expansion pack included in. A lot of fine work has been done in the post-prequel era with the setting, but the pair just came out around the time of Episode II’s theatrical premiere. Although it’s no longer supported, it’s still accessible on Steam for less than $5 and is remembered warmly — there are also some excellent mods for it.
6. Empires Apart
Perhaps the best Age of Empires-like game you’ve never heard of is this. With a small team and Slitherine publisher, it proudly displays its AOE inspiration. There are also several well-designed factions and a stylish graphical style.
It’s possible to play a basic version of the game for free, and then you can purchase micro-expansions to play the other civilizations. Skirmishing with the AI, online multiplayer, and a survival and challenge mode are all options. It’s a shame that Empires Apart didn’t get the attention it deserved, but it’s a solid and under-appreciated tribute to the Age of Empires history. Projects like this are important to keep in mind as we near the release of Age of Empires IV.
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