Another day, another time loop ga- no wait, come back! This one’s actually good!
“Man, all of these games that take heavy inspiration from Left 4 Dead’s co-op horde shooter formula are great and all, but they’re all missing something. I wish somebody would just make a modern version of Left 4 Dead.”
Back 4 Blood is released.
“No, not like that.”
“The next generation of real-time strategy gaming!” proclaims the marketing blurb for Age of Empires 4. This is technically true, since aside from assorted mediocrities like Grey Goo and Company of Heroes 2 I don’t think anyone has taken a proper big (or at least medium-sized) budget stab at the classic RTS since Blizzard released Starcraft 2 back in 2010. Unlike those failures, Age of Empires 4 has the support of a big franchise name, a big publisher — they don’t get any bigger than Microsoft — and it’s being developed by Relic Entertainment, who are in theory a seasoned RTS studio thanks to their experience with Dawn of War and Company of Heroes. But if Age of Empires 4 is indeed the next generation of real-time strategy gaming, then I have to say it looks a hell of a lot like the twenty year-old Age of Empires 2.