Age of Empires 4 had almost 74,000 concurrent players on Steam for its opening weekend

Age of Empires 4 key art
(Image credit: Microsoft)
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Relic's historical sheep-murder simulator Age of Empires 4 is currently sitting at the top of Steam's global top sellers chart, ahead of Phasmophobia (which is currently on sale), and New World (which is inexplicable to me). 

Age of Empires 4 hit a peak player count of 73,928 over the weekend according to SteamDB (opens in new tab), which is roughly the population of Dominica. To put it in a videogame perspective, that's a higher peak player count than Garry's Mod, Vermintide 2, or XCOM: Enemy Unknown. And that's not counting the people playing on Game Pass for PC. It's a lot of sheep-murder is what I'm saying.

Robert Zak enjoyed the latest in the revered RTS series, saying in his review, "Age of Empires 4 might not have the balanced esport appeal of AoE 2, but damn is it fun to experiment with the different civs and learn their unique ways. The Mongols are the biggest wildcard, capable of packing entire towns up into carts and relocating to anywhere on the map. I had a real blast with the Delhi Sultanate too, stomping my hapless AI enemies with War Elephants they had no answer for."

Is it time for the RTS genre to make its long-awaited comeback? We've recently seen smaller examples like Age of Darkness: Final Stand and impressive free student project Védelem: The Golden Horde. Company of Heroes 3 is due next year, then there's whatever Tencent's squad headed by ex-Blizzard devs is working on. The next Dune will be a multiplayer survival game, but that doesn't rule out an RTS as well. Which series do you want to see return?

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games (opens in new tab). He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab), The Big Issue, GamesRadar (opens in new tab), Zam (opens in new tab), Glixel (opens in new tab), Five Out of Ten Magazine (opens in new tab), and Playboy.com (opens in new tab), whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.