A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition is a real-time strategy game available on Windows based PCs. The game is an updated and enhanced version of 2005's original Age of Empires III release and its previously released expansions, as well as brand new content and features. Players choose from 16 different civilizations, teaming with and fighting against each other in skirmishes that represent both historical battles and alternative "What If?" scenarios. The game includes a comprehensive representation of the military forces of each civilization, with a detailed Compendium describing how they were used in combat. Play requires a lot of strategic thinking and micromanagement, but includes easy to follow tutorials and scalable difficulty levels to help newcomers or casual fans. Violence is constant, as players try to eliminate the opposition or complete specific goals. There's some blood shown onscreen and in cutscenes, but little in the way of graphic or gory depictions of violent acts.
What's it about?
History doesn't just repeat itself with AGE OF EMPIRES III: DEFINITIVE EDITION -- it improves on itself. The classic real-time strategy game is back and better than ever, with 4K HD graphics, newly enhanced audio, two new civilizations, and two new game modes. Players can follow the Story through three distinct campaigns that span the globe from the Ottoman Empire's siege of Malta to the battles of early settlers' confrontations with Native American tribes to the expansion of the feudal dynasties in Asia beyond the Far East borders. You can test your military strategies against those of record in the Historical Battles mode, which recreates some classic clashes of the past, or practice The Art of War and take on a series of challenges that spotlight the unique nature of each civilization. Players can also build their own custom scenarios or mods and ask, "What if history had unfolded differently?" And finally, you can take your skills to the virtual battlefield and compete in online multiplayer matches, teaming with or fighting against other armchair leaders from around the world.
Is it any good?
It's hard to think of any games that have been as influential to the real-time strategy genre as this series. Now, fifteen years later, the game has gotten a long overdue update with the release of Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition, improving on the already impressive original in almost every way. Right off the bat, the game pops with new HD detail and color, breathing new life into the classic experience and making the New World feel like a new world. While a lot of focus might be on the two new civilization additions (the Swedes and the Inca), the existing groups have been tweaked as well. Of particular note, the Native American tribes represented have been reworked to more authentically represent their cultures. It's the little things like this that show how the game balances respect for different cultures and their historic significance with entertaining gameplay.
Aside from adding the content included in Age of Empire III's two expansions, the Definitive Edition also introduces fans to two new game modes: Historical Battles and The Art of War. Historical Battles are pre-set skirmishes that recreate certain snapshots in history, such as the Barbary Pirates fending off the Spanish invasion to take the city of Algiers. These are quicker battles that provide unique perspectives on notable conflicts. They're not only fun, but they do a great job of raising players' interests in how the actual events unfolded and how history could have been different. The Art of War is a series of challenge-based missions, which don't necessarily demand players' victory, but pushes them to achieve specific milestones and goals. These missions really help players hone their skills and learn new strategies before jumping into the fray of online multiplayer. Multiplayer completes the Definitive overhaul of Age of Empires III, made more stable after the work done on the two prior Age of Empires Definitive releases. Add to this things like a competitive leaderboard, spectator modes, and online matchmaking, and you'll see that the tools are in place, working together to make the Age of Empires series historic in ways beyond its theme.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about war in history. How has warfare evolved throughout different civilizations? What are some of the ways that conflict has directed the course of history? What lessons can we learn today from the tactics and strategies used in the past?
What are some ways that remakes or remasters of past games can benefit fans? How can updating a classic game revitalize interest in a title or even expand the longevity of a franchise?
- Platforms: Windows
- Subjects: Social Studies: cultural understanding, history
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, strategy
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Xbox Game Studios
- Release date: October 15, 2020
- Genre: Real-Time Strategy (RTS)
- Topics: Adventures, History, Pirates, Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: T for Mild Blood, Violence
- Last updated: October 20, 2020
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