Age of Empires II is getting remastered with the Definitive Edition this autumn, but at the Xbox Showcase at E3 this year we talked with Age of Empires' project manager Bert Beeckman about what's new this time around.
"The good thing is Age of Empires II is really like... the gameplay is solid, like everybody loves Age, and we didn't really have to touch that formula. All we really had to do was have everything that's in there [and] make it a little bit better, like you have some controls that are clearly from the '90s and you're like 'hey we can do that a little bit smoother', so we smoothened that out a bit."
"Like the whole networking, the multiplayer framework, it almost didn't exist back in the day, and now we all put it straight into the game, so you can hop in, leaderboards are there, everything is there. So it's basically the good old game, but everything is a little bit better."
Speaking of online, Beeckman also had a bit to add about some areas of improvement here:
"Some of the things that we added, if you played a lot of Age of Empires in the past, you might recognise your farms are depleted, and you need to go back to your town and then reseed your farms. Now you can just say 'do it automatically while I'm having fun fighting', so those little small things over the game."
"Also a lot of people like playing against the computer, like beating up the AI. Because there is the massive multiplayer online community, we had a look at their tactics, like how do they play, what is the meta in Age of Empires? And we basically put all those tactics in the game right now, so if you played against the highest level of AI, it now plays as if a pro player was playing [...] if you play it you actually learn how to play the game."
Later on in the interview we hear details about how the visuals have been upgraded to 4K and all the assets made from scratch, but without denting the content in the original game.
"We stayed faithful. If you played Age of Empires II way back in the day, and you play it now it's like 'oh I recognise this, this is my knight, this is my castle, this is my trebuchet'. You see it immediately, but it all looks shiny again," Beeckman adds.
Did you play the original?