Following 12 years of silence, Microsoft Studios confirmed at Gamescom 2017 that Age of Empires 4 is in development for PC. The hugely popular series began way back in 1997, and despite the fact that there hasn’t been a new game in the franchise for quite some time, it’s still held in high regard by the gaming community.

So, what should you expect from Age of Empire 4? Here, we discuss a possible release date, along with platform availability and what to expect from gameplay.

When will Age of Empires 4 be released?

Of course, the biggest question of all is ‘When is the Age of Empires 4 release date?’ and sadly, Microsoft hasn't revealed a release date – or even a release window.

Looking back at previous Age of Empires releases, there’s no real release date pattern; the first in the series launched way back in 1997, followed by Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings in 1999, and Age of Empires 3 in 2005. There was only a gap of two years between the first two games, while the gap between the second and third tripled to six years.

If we follow the pattern of tripling the gap between games, Age of Empires 4 won’t be out until 2023 – but of course, it won’t be that far off!

Which platforms will Age of Empires 4 be available on?

As announced by publisher Microsoft Studios, Age of Empires 4 is headed to Windows 10 PCs. There’s no word yet on whether it’ll make its way to the Xbox One as part of Microsoft’s Play Anywhere functionality, or whether it’ll be available for other consoles like the PS4 and Nintendo Switch - though we doubt it on that front.

Watch the trailer

In addition to the concept trailer at the top of the page from the game's announcement, Microsoft released a first gameplay trailer for Age of Empires 4 at X019:

What should I expect from Age of Empires 4 gameplay?

Age of Empires 4 is the latest in the real-time strategy franchise since the release of Age of Empires 3 in 2005. The first three games in the series were developed by Ensemble Studios, a company that is no longer in business.

Relic Entertainment has taken up the mantle, confirmed by Microsoft in an Xbox Wire announcement. For those unaware, the Canada-based development company is highly regarded in the real-time strategy world. The company has produced hugely popular titles including Company of Heroes, Homeworld and, of course, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 3.

Talking about the decision to develop the game with Relic, Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Isgreen explained that “Relic Entertainment has a wealth of experience in creating high-quality RTS games, making them the ideal partner to develop Age of Empires 4.”

This was backed up by a similar blog post on Relic’s own website: “We can’t wait to tap into our strengths as a studio to fuse historical context with deep strategic gameplay, and to bring this franchise back to the forefront of gaming and into the hands of its beloved community,”.

But in terms of actual gameplay, there’s not much to go on. The first gameplay trailer above looks like fairly standard AoE fare, albeit with a massive upgrade in terms of both graphics and the sheer level of detail on show.

There are two playable civilisations shown in the trailer - the Mongols and the English - but we don't know how many others will feature in the final game. What we do know, however, is that there will be fewer than there was in Age of Empires II.

That too was confirmed by Creative Director Adam Isgreen, who discussed the factions in the upcoming title with PCGamesN and claimed that players "can expect to see fewer than the 13 that shipped with Age of Empires II, as we're aiming for more uniqueness with each civilisation rather than quantity."

Isgreen also confirmed that while there won't be any microtransactions in the game, the developers are open to the idea of DLC. "The idea of microtransactions in games in a real-time strategy game isn't a thing" he remarked, "DLC, expansions - all of that is things we're going to be exploring for Age 4".