Here’s our first look at Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition on console

What you need to know

  • Today in the official Xbox Podcast, we got our first look at gameplay footage from Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition port for Xbox One and Xbox Series X | S.
  • Creative Director Adam Esgreen showed a radial troop command menu and a neat user interface.
  • The developers are passionate about accessibility and making the game as comfortable as possible to use on the console by making improvements to the game’s quality of life.

Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition was officially announced in the Age of Empires 25th Anniversary Broadcast to come to Xbox consoles on January 31, 2023 — and today we got our first real look at how the gameplay will look on console configuration. Creative Director Adam Isgren appeared on The Official Xbox Podcast to answer questions from Larry Hryb (Major Nelson) about the port and how the studio will truly bring this legendary real-time (RTS) game to life on the Xbox console.

The full broadcast of the screenshots can be seen in the link above, which should start from where Adam starts showing off his gameplay on console. The user interface (UI) looks pleasantly clean and tidy, with quick access functionality. Adam states that the UI design was “similar to Halo Wars and other RTS games” in that you can instantly select your units, workers, and buildings from the bottom of the screen.

Unit selection in Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Perhaps the most interesting part of the footage is when Adam shows a simple radial list of unit grouping. Something previously limited to the F keys on a keyboard. With the radial menu, it won’t take more than two clicks to get to what you want, whether it’s to assemble buildings or upgrade them. The radial list appears to have gone through various iterations and extensive testing with focus groups to reach its current state.

Age of Empires 2 radial roster in console edition

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Adam was keen to stress how committed Xbox Game Studios is to ensuring that console gamers can perform at a competitive level with PC players using this port. With the console version, the player is placed more in the role of a leader than the need for careful management of each individual mission. An example is the massive change in quality of life, villagers will now automatically go to the nearest unassigned job. No need to break the whip! Watch this in action at 44:55.

It’s clear in this interview that accessibility is a high priority when it comes to crafting the controls for this game and other Xbox Game Studios titles. It was touched upon that while a keyboard might be the ultimate way to play RTS games, they want to make sure no player is left behind and that they can support every function via a two-button mouse. This concept was a driving force behind the console interface. However, it should be noted that console players are able to play with a keyboard and mouse if they so choose.

The Xbox console ports for Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition and Age of Empires IV will launch next year in 2023. Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition is scheduled for January 31, 2023. Both games will be available on Xbox Cloud Games along with Along with the ever expanding Xbox Game Pass library.

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