Ensemble Studios

Microsoft Game Studios hiring for "AAA strategy game in a well-loved franchise"

Emanuel Maiberg at

We love Microsoft’s and Ensemble Studios’ Age of Empires series. Those games are so well designed, they hold up even more than a decade after release. Just ask Sam, who reviewed spin-off Age of Mythology: Extended Edition, a spruced up version of the original game. Microsoft has been giving the series some love lately, cleaning up and releasing the Age of Empires games on Steam. Could it be gearing up for a proper sequel? A recent job listing gives us reason to hope that it is.


Age of Mythology: Extended Edition announced by an alpaca puppet hitting a keyboard

Tom Sykes at

Game announcements have settled into a tired, cynically hype-generating routine. First you have your logo on a black background, then after months of nothing you have a 20-second teaser trailer, followed by a preview that contains roughly three nuggets of new information. Could we not replace all that with an alpaca puppet banging his head on a keyboard? Yes, says the man in his dressing gown writing PC Gamer's news posts, although it took Microsoft Studios' streaming team to make this brave new world a reality.

Partway through a stream of Age of Empires II: HD Edition yesterday, a puppet named Alfred (and his handler) appeared on the screen. After whacking his head on a keyboard a few times, the above image then appeared, revealing an Age of Mythology: Extended Edition, yes, with a Steam logo plastered over the top. One of the devs of AoE2 HD later confirmed the news on Reddit.


Age of Empires 2 HD patch fixes framerates on higher-end systems

T.J. Hafer at

Age of Empires II: HD Edition has been out a little over a week, and has scarcely left the Top 5 best-selling titles on Steam since. It hasn't all been sunshine and mutton dinners with the polished-up classic, however, as the realities of getting such a dated engine to run on modern machines has caused some quirks. A patch is now available for beta opt-in that, notably, fixes framerate issues on higher-end machines.


Age of Empires II: HD is playable now on Steam

T.J. Hafer at

Well, this is a pleasant surprise: Age of Empires II: HD Edition is live on Steam for anyone who pre-ordered—apparently it has been as of the 5th. The store page still says it won't unlock for about another 17 hours, but the game launches fine, and all modes seem to be available. Since buying it now is still technically a pre-order, you should just be able to hand over your e-cash and get immediate access. It's essentially a soft release.


Age of Empires 2 HD won't have LAN play

T.J. Hafer at

Wah waaaaaaaah. The sad trombone is here to announce that the official Age of Empires II FAQ has revealed that the Steam re-release of the RTS classic won't have LAN play. The single player will be playable in Steam's offline mode, but you'll have to have an internet connection to play multiplayer. It's not all gloomy tidings, though. Read on for a break-down of what we know about the game so far.

Age of Empires 2: HD to launch with improved visuals, Steam Workshop on April 9

T.J. Hafer at

The rumors were true. Age of Empires II HD (which includes the content from the Conquerors expansion) is coming to Steam in April. And it's been aged up to the Modern Era (courtesy of Hidden Path Entertainment), with a host of tweaks and new features. We've got more details and a graphical comparison below.


Tales of Middle-Earth mod brings the War of the Ring to Age of Empires II

Omri Petitte at

We never turn down the opportunity to send men to their deaths to recover a piece of jewelry. Lord of the Rings continues to be great modding fodder, proven most recently by Tales of Middle-Earth. The total conversion adapts RTS classic Age of Empires II, adding 18 LOTR factions ready to clash steel on maps based on iconic battles.