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Age of Empires 4: Why mediocrity won’t be enough

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Age of Empires 4: Why mediocrity won't be enough

It’s an unusual situation. It feels like we already know a lot about Age of Empires 4. The game should be released in October 2021. It won’t take that long until then! But nobody has a fully comprehensive feel for the actual game.

Relic is now releasing new videos for Age 4 at very short intervals, in which you can also see gameplay scenes on a regular basis. Some content-related details are also supplemented or expanded on the official website. What the campaigns are about, how the peoples play, and all that kind of thing. And yet the overall impression is missing. Even the closed beta on August 5th will not change that, because all participants sign an embargo and are not allowed to talk about it.

Of course, that doesn’t stop fans like me and you from reading between the lines beforehand and discussing every detail in detail. And one topic keeps coming up. The graphic. Possibly also because a more in-depth impression is missing.

Only the last trailer about the sea battles caused very sharp criticism of the graphics again. But there could be more to this sharp tone. Because Age of Empires 4 is not an ugly strategy game, most likely the critics know that too.

A loud minority?

The mass of critical comments may create a skewed picture. Even if these reviews can be found almost everywhere. Both here with us and on YouTube or Reddit. You don’t have to search long before the subject of the overwhelming graphics is brought up again.

But this criticism does not seem to have an overwhelming effect on how many fans still trust the RTS hope and are looking forward to it. For example, the graphics in the comments are often criticized. But measured against the YouTube thumbs, the videos still hold up quite well. In the video with the naval battles, 1,500 thumbs up are currently compared to 240 thumbs down. Certainly not a flawless one. But no death sentence either.

For the sake of interest, we asked for your opinion on Casus knacks on our homepage. 2,163 people decided here how much they like the graphics. And the result was surprising. Only 8 percent rated the graphics as very bad, 13 as bad. This would mean that 21 percent would have a rather negative attitude overall. But only 13 percent found it very good. The majority are in the middle for the values. Even more positive. 33 percent of each thinks the graphics are mediocre or good.

Judging by the comments, other values ​​might have been more understandable. The point here is that Age 4 doesn’t look “very good.” It doesn’t look bad either. It looks okay to good in the perception of people. But in the case of Age 4, one must not forget what is attached to it.

Ambitions we like to believe

The developers themselves repeatedly emphasize how important the success of Age 4 is for the genre. That only this franchise can do what many believe is impossible. And also what their ambitions are. The “largest and most expensive real-time strategy game since Starcraft 2” is to be Age of Empires 4.

And at this point graphics, ambition and challenge drift past each other. Age of Empires 4 is the spiritual successor to Age 2. Perhaps the best strategy game of all time. That is still alive today. That practice doesn’t make any mistakes. Age 2 wasn’t even affected by the new editions and remakes. Age of Empires 4 is measured against this.

That does something to our expectations. Every publisher and every developer likes to fall back on superlatives. But if you are also the heir to a masterpiece, then these promises work differently. Then players are more willing to believe that ambition. Especially since there is no small publisher behind it with Microsoft.

More than mediocre

If that’s the starting point, then even mediocre or even good graphics have a different effect. A reasonable gamer knows by now that bombastic graphics say nothing about whether a game will be good. Graphic bezels are nothing new. Conversely, however, it is harder to believe that the “largest and most expensive RTS since Starcraft 2” is visually not approaching any absolute highs.

That doesn’t get any better because Relic almost relativizes these statements itself. Because in the meantime Company of Heroes 3 has been announced. This will only appear after Age 4 and will be financed by Sega instead of Microsoft. Here we have another RTS from the same studio, but it caused fewer graphic discussions.

As a fan, you start to doubt. Can Age of Empires 4 be what fans and developers have chosen it to be if the look doesn’t reflect that? Especially since none of the trailers shown was cohesive gameplay. Those were short scenes. In a promotional video. An environment in which you can otherwise show your best side.

And this is exactly where Age 4 is currently just not capable of anything more than good mediocrity. Or rather: can not show more than that of itself. But fans don’t expect a good average from Age 4. The hope was that it would be the next big strategy game. And the optics alone simply do not convey that.

And what does that mean?

So do we have to write off like Age 4 now? I would not go so far. In all of the discussions about Age 4’s graphics, it’s just important not to forget what the expectation is. And this is currently not yet being met. Because there is currently no counterweight.

Everything we know about gameplay comes from blog posts and the promises made by the developers. That can sound interesting. Whether it plays that way is another question. Graphics are much easier to classify there.

Perhaps the graphic is an indication that Age of Empires 4 will not be the strategy masterpiece that gets the heart of classic real-time strategy beating again. But maybe nobody can. Instead, let’s see things in a positive light: Microsoft is not even trying to dazzle us with graphics. Rather, rely on strong player loyalty through gameplay that runs smoothly on a variety of devices. In the end, they may succeed so well that at some point nobody asks about the graphic.

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Lst Ark: Servers are shutting down today to allow more fans to play

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Lost Ark: Tier 1 Island Route

On February 11th the new MMORPG Lost Ark was released in its Free2Play version for all people who just want to try it. That’s a lot though, which is why the game is still struggling with server issues. That should change now.

Update 8:05 a.m.: The servers are now down.

When will the servers shut down? As announced by Amazon via the Lost Ark official website, the servers will go offline this morning, that is, on February 13, at 8 a.m. GMT.

The downtime affects all European servers equally and you will not be able to log into the game in the meantime.

How long will they stay offline? The maintenance work is planned for about 3 hours. So if all goes well, you’ll be able to return to the world of Arkesia at 11 a.m.

We’ll keep you up to date in the live ticker when the servers return and if there will be any delays again.

Lost Ark’s last scheduled server maintenance was scheduled for 4 hours, but ended up lasting over 10 hours, leading to some negative reviews on Steam.

Why are the servers going down? Since Lost Ark was released, the new MMORPG has been struggling with long queues and server problems. At the prime time on February 12, more than 1.3 million people played the action game at the same time.

This also meant that some servers had to be completely closed to new players. Especially the server Asta, on which many German players gather, is affected by long queues.

Sometimes the fans have to wait up to 6 hours just to log in. Incidentally, this only works if you already have a character on the Asta server. New players were completely denied access until the evening hours of February 12th.

To address this situation, Amazon is working with Smilegate to increase server capacity. At this point, however, they are not telling us exactly how this is supposed to work.

Are the queues gone then? No, probably not. In the blog post, the publishers emphasize that they only want to create the basic framework for further updates and more server capacities during the downtime.

We, therefore, do not assume that you will be able to continue gambling directly at 11 a.m. without queues, even if that would be desirable.

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Lost Ark: An exact time when the servers will go online

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Lost Ark: Tier 2 Island Route

Today at 6 p.m. the Lost Ark servers should (re)open to all players after the scheduled maintenance. But nothing will come of the official Lost Ark Launch! The launch is delayed due to “deployment issues”.

An exact time when the servers will go online again has not yet been announced. “We hope that this problem will be fixed in a few hours,” the announcement simply says.

We’ll keep you posted on updates here!

Unfortunately, the launch has been delayed due to deployment issues. We hope this will be fixed in a few hours.

Your patience is appreciated and we will update you soon.

Restart Lost Ark Client

We have received important information from the Community Team. Waiting in the server screen doesn’t seem to help. The server list does not appear there automatically. So a reboot is required.

Waiting at the server screen won’t help, as it will require a fresh launch of the client as far as I’m aware.

You can read our guide for Lost Ark here.

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New pioneer package with server change in Lost Ark

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Lost Ark guide: List of runes and their effects

Lost Ark has been better received than many thought. Even Amazon did not expect this rush. And so there were long queues on some servers, as was the case with New World. Since a real server change is not possible, many players simply created a new character on a new server. However, some of these players have already redeemed their pioneer package on the first server and thus used it up unnecessarily.

As Amazon has now announced, we will get an additional set of exclusive items on the new server. These items are bound to the character and thus cannot be traded. They can soon be redeemed on every new server.

During the Head Start period for Lost Ark, a massive number of heroes arrived in Arkesia. While we are thrilled to have so many players joining us, we also recognize that this has brought about large queues on our more popular servers, leading to a less than ideal experience for these players.

In an effort to improve the player experience for those who have faced queues, we will be taking several steps to put preventative measures in place ahead of our full launch tomorrow morning, in addition to addressing some of the outstanding issues surrounding Founder’s Pack claims.

Founder’s Pack Redemptions

Players have let us know one of the reasons they are reluctant to switch to lower population servers is because many of them have already redeemed their Founder’s Packs on another server. To help combat this and make exploring new servers a more reasonable choice, we will be granting ALL Founder’s Pack purchasers that redeem their pack by 12 PM PT (8 PM UTC) on Monday, February 14th with an extra set of the exclusive items from the Founder’s Pack they redeemed (e.g., the Founder’s Exclusive Pet and Founder’s Title from the Bronze pack; see full list below) as well as some additional Royal Crystals for Silver, Gold, and Platinum Pack purchasers. These items will not be tradeable, and will be delivered to a player’s Product Inventory so they can be claimed on a new server. Your original Founder’s Pack will not be affected by this, and will remain on the initial server where you redeemed it (or in your Product Inventory, if you have not yet redeemed it).

We are currently working to get these item grants ready to go, and will update players when they are ready to claim — these will be claimable on any new server you choose, so in the meantime we encourage you to find a perfect server to call home.

Bronze Pack
Founder’s Title*
Founder’s Exclusive Pet (Untradeable)

Silver Pack
150 Royal Crystals
Founder’s Title*
Founder’s Exclusive Pet (Untradeable)

Gold Pack
500 Royal Crystals
Founder’s Title*
Founder’s Exclusive Pet (Untradeable)
Northern Lawmaker Skin (Untradeable)

Platinum Pack
1,000 Royal Crystals
Founder’s Title*
Founder’s Exclusive Pet (Untradeable)
Northern Lawmaker Skin (Untradeable)
Founder’s Platinum Skin (Untradeable)
Founder’s Exclusive Mount (Untradeable)
Platinum Welcome Crate (Untradeable)

Founder’s Exclusive Wallpaper*
Founder’s Exclusive Structure
Legendary Rapport Gift Selection Chest
Launch Limited Card Pack
*If the Founder’s Title or Founder’s Exclusive Wallpaper are used on the same Roster where a pack has already been redeemed, you will not be able to use these items.

Please note that this is a one-time grant, and we do not have plans to continue to make additional grants of items available to players in the future. For example, there will be Starter Packs available for purchase at full launch tomorrow (more details to come), and we highly recommend only redeeming them once you settle into your permanent home server.

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