Remember Age of Empires? Well if you consider yourself any sort of RTS buff you should. The Age of Empires series in the past has been one of the most successful RTS franchises (yes there have been other popular RTS franchises other then Starcraft). The originals have won countless awards and have solidified themselves in the RTS hall of fame.
Being an old Age of Empires fan myself, I was quite excited to hear that a new Age of Empires Online Gold title was coming out, and better yet for free! I will admit I was a bit skeptical as to how well the new game would turn out, but after getting the chance to play around with it a bit in the open beta I am confident where it is headed.
Age of Empires Online combines a progressive MMO setting with a traditional RTS single player and Multiplayer. This is all accomplished with the introduction of the player's home town. At the start of the game you are asked to choose a nation (currently only one nation is playable) and name your home town. This town serves as your base of operations as you take up quests offered up by different citizens in your town.
The quests themselves play out like your typical single player RTS campaign missions. They give you a few objectives and some starting resources and town folk to work with. Everything plays out just like it did in the original AoE titles but with an added layer of MMO sprinkled on top. Whereas the traditional Age of Empires introduced you to new unit types as you progressed. Age of Empires Online Gold allows you to complete missions to unlock new items and structures within your home town. On top of this your home town also levels up giving you access to the three skill trees to spend your skill points in. The skills range from opening up new unit types, to allowing your workers to build buildings faster or gather resources quicker. I can definitely see a huge potential for strategy here as players customize their home town to match their personal tactics.
I have yet to get a chance to test out the multiplayer components but I am curious to see how they play out. I do worry that because of the need to level up in order to gain access to new skill points and unlocks, newer players looking to play more than just the quests early on may be at a huge disadvantage. Still the game is being developed by some of the original creators of Age of Empires. So with any luck we will have a great free to play RTS with some awesome MMO elements mixed in! Be sure to check back in to OnRPG for new updates and a full review!