Age Of Empires 2's Anniversary Update brings battle royale to the historical RTS

Age Of Empires 2 Battle Royale
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Age Of Empires 2: Definitive Edition is almost a year old—and to celebrate its first birthday, the strategy remaster is getting a whopping great Anniversary Update. Next month's massive update adds a fleet of new features and balances, topped off by an honest-to-god battle royale mode for the old-fashioned RTS.

Eight civilisations parachute onto an island. Last nation standing wins.

Littered at random throughout a map, up to eight players begin battle royale with a scant handful of soldiers.  Fortunately, these troops can capture military buildings and resource camps scattered across the level, slowly escalating your army in size. There's your genre-staple circle of enclosing fog to avoid, along with AI-controlled guardians and, of course, other players. 

While the battle royale trend seems to have fizzled out by now, I'm still fascinated by seeing the mode wrapped into completely different genres. At the very least, I reckon AoE2's will be interesting to watch. To show off the new mode, a group of 16 streamers and pro players will be taking part in a $10,000 Age Royale Tournament this Saturday at 11am Eastern / 3pm GMT.

The Anniversary Update is also making some sweeping changes to the game's frontend, with much of the main menu due for an overhaul. A new "Quickplay" mode will let you join matchmaking queues for any kind of unranked play, while the social menu has been updated to make adding friends to games a whole lot easier.

Finally, the Civilisation UI has been overhauled, making it easier to discern any given faction's strengths and weaknesses at a glance. There's also a host of balance tweaks due, but expect the full patch notes for those to drop closer to the November update's release sometime next month.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.