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Age of Empires 4 is free to play this week on Steam

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It's hard to believe, but Age of Empires was released on October 15, 1997, which means that it is rapidly approaching its 25th birthday. 25 years old! That's a big one—the silver anniversary—and to celebrate, Relic Entertainment is making Age of Empires 4 (opens in new tab) free to play for a week.

To get in on the action, just pop around to the Steam (opens in new tab) page and click the "play game" button. It'll download and install, and then you're off to the chariot races. The free week runs until August 28, and both the standard and deluxe editions are also on sale for half-price, in case you want to stick with it for longer.

This isn't the only birthday fun Relic has planned. October will also see the launch of an anniversary update, free for all players, which will include two new civilizations, the Malians and the Ottomans. The Malians are an economic powerhouse and one of the richest trading nations in the game, while the Ottoman Empire boasts an elite military and the Great Bombard, the largest gunpowder siege weapon available.

The update will also include new maps, achievements, and masteries, alongside the new seasonal events, ranked team play, taunts and cheats, and other new features slated for the season 3 update (opens in new tab). If you don't feel like waiting until October, you can get a head start on the new civs and content in the Public Update Preview coming in September—sign up for the Age Insider Program (opens in new tab) if you'd like to take part.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.