It has not escaped my attention that at the end of October, Age of Empires IV will be released. I think I’ll be saving it for a Christmas wish list idea for family who bug me for ideas, though. I think I could wait on this, considering everything else that’s clamoring for my attention.
That said, I do want to play it and I am looking forward to seeing if it might rekindle that old fanatical love I used to have for real-time strategy games. You ever look back on your life to past interests and hobbies and say, “Where did that go? When did I stop being so into that?” That’s me and RTS games.
These used to be, second to RPGs, my favorite type of computer games. There’s a lot of reasons for that, starting with the sheer replayability factor and the unfolding stories that were made during each match. True, most of those stories were “I built something up and knocked something down/got knocked down,” but it was fun to go through the process over and over again without an undue time investment.
I always felt that RTS games gave me a huge bang for my buck. Previous to MMOs, this was imperative. I didn’t have $60 every week to drop on new games, so I wanted the ones I bought to last. RTS titles often fit that bill. I got hundreds of hours out of each one, and that’s not bad for the price.
But somewhere along the way, my interest waned in these games. I don’t think it died overnight, nor did it ever go away, but there was a definite downslope of personal involvement. Looking back, this seems to mirror the decline of RTS games being released year-over-year.
It’s also that RTS games changed and evolved. We don’t call games like Dwarf Fortress or RimWorld “real time strategy,” but they totally are — just the next iteration. Clash Royale, which I play daily, is a micro-RTS game. And titles such as Planet Coaster have proved that there’s still an audience out there that likes to build up kingdoms of all kinds and see how they unfold.
I am perfectly fine to have my interests where they’re at, I just hope that I haven’t completely abandoned my affection for these titles. We’ll see how it goes when I get my hands on Age of Empires IV. It might be a rekindling… or it might feel like an outdated, alien experience. I hope for the former.