Age of Empires set a standard in Real Time Strategy. It has been back in the form of Age Of Empires Online, or AoEO, since August of last year. And until April 11, boosters and civilizations are on sale.
The new and improved game model combines those classic AOE elements with loot, crafting, and a level system. You will first build a “home city” which is separate to the bases you will build before a battle. The home city allows customization, where you build shops, store loot, and find quests. If you have a friend, you can take turns helping each other complete quests, where loot found on the map is shared between both players. You can also visit each others cities and brows their shops, which may have different items than your own.
Also a new direction for the art takes the game in a more Comic/Cartoonish direction. So far the Greek, Egyptian, Celt, and Persian civilizations have been introduced, each with a (slight) unit difference over the others.
Yet, despite these fantastic design elements, AoEO released with a fairly “aggressive” pay model, where each civilization could cost you nearly $20 apiece. Eventually they dropped to $10, many argued this is where it should have always been, (with the current sale they are $5 apiece). Also, AoEO utilized the disdained Games for Windows Live, with which you must dust off your calculator, memorize the exchange rate, or depend on somebody else to help you figure out what to spend in real life currency. PC elitists rejoice, as now Steam appears to have replaced GFWL which means one thing: under price Sales, using real life currency.
Just like all other F2P games, there is a price to pay somewhere. So what does your money get you in AoEO? Your army is able to take advantage of certain high level gear, and “Advisers” who allow you to summon special units or give a statistical edge, such as the elite longbow-men for Celts, or my personal favorite, Hetairoi who are just guys on a horse with a torch, burnin-nating the countryside. The nice thing, is that each purchase is permanent, unlike some other F2P models where you are paying a subscription for a month. Also only these “Premium” civilizations can PvP with your friends, or your mortal enemies.
All these things combine to make the game more “Freemium” than actually Free to play, especially if you plan to PvP, where every advantage counts. However if the loot matters little, you don’t want the entire tech tree, advisers seem “cheap”, and if you hate PvP you can still do alright, and get far sticking to F2P.
So what do you think TechZwnr’s? Post your own experiences or grievances in the comments section!
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