Metascore
70

Mixed or average reviews - based on 44 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 44
  2. Negative: 0 out of 44
  1. Aug 22, 2011
    90
    While it may seem trivial to say, Age of Empires Online lives up to its title perfectly. It's a fully-featured Age of Empires game, while including all the Online trappings an MMO aficionado could want.
  2. Sep 14, 2011
    84
    Strategy is the entree and MMO are the sides here. I've enjoyed the dozens of hours I've put into the game, the biggest question is if it would hold up for dozens of hours more, and my answer to that is I'll unlikely play in any long-term sense, it just hasn't held my interest enough to encourage me to do so.
  3. Aug 17, 2011
    84
    The free content is extensive, and if you don't like it, you can always quit without spending a dime.
  4. Aug 16, 2011
    83
    Age of Empires Online combines fantastic gameplay with nice graphics to give a feel of classical antiquity.
  5. Sep 3, 2011
    80
    You can find a flaw or two in here, but that is just a smirch on the game's face that is suprisingly addicting, and whose free-to-play model is effectively helping to get to more audience – from hardcore maniacs up to their mummies.
  6. Aug 26, 2011
    80
    As it stands now, Age of Empires Online is a very good game. It still retains the same mechanics and core strategy elements from the original series while adding in an online element that doesn't feel all that intrusive. Even though there's a decent amount of content locked away until you shell out money, there's enough to do here with the base free game. You can have more fun with it compared to some fully paid titles. Time will tell how the game holds up in the long run, especially with more items to buy and a fluctuating user base. With its current model, Age of Empires Online is easy to recommend even if you absolutely have no plans to buy anything for it at any point in time.
  7. Aug 25, 2011
    80
    Age of Empires Online combines a fantastic RTS gameplay with nice graphics and a freemium model. Players have plenty to do without paying, but is recommended to upgrade.
  8. Aug 22, 2011
    80
    A recommended game for strategy players and a noteworthy achievement updating the beloved game to current times.
  9. Aug 17, 2011
    80
    With Age of Empires Online, Robot Entertainment offers a real-time strategy experience for a large public in terms of solo play, and probably one that's more interesting in PVP. But in order to enjoy it, it's really best to purchase a premium civilization. It still remains pretty straightforward and classic, but wrapped up in a nice, overall production, with very polished equipment management, crafting and decoration options for your city.
  10. Aug 17, 2011
    80
    Age of Empires is updated to compete against the latest versions of mobile and social games. The tactic is obvious: provide a free experience supported by optional subscriptions. The basis of the product are of good quality and adequate enough to attract different types of players, but the specifics details concerning expansions packs will define the user acceptance and the future of the bet ultimately. A very good job for now.
  11. Aug 16, 2011
    80
    It's a bold attempt at marrying real-time strategy values with MMO elements, and although it's difficult to judge the game until a community has built up around it, the early signs are very positive.
  12. Aug 16, 2011
    80
    This is a bold step for an RTS into the ripe and unconquered pastures of the Internet, and while it isn't completely surefooted, its spears are certainly sharp.
  13. Oct 19, 2011
    79
    In Age of Empires Online you manage your very own online kingdom, fight other players and solve quests that require you to complete different objectives such as building temples or destroying enemy towns. At its core, the game plays like a typical real-time strategy game but it doesn't feel too traditional thanks to the various MMORPG features such as skill trees, crafting and equipable items. The game's biggest shortcomings are the lack of skirmish maps and the small player limit in battles. It could also use some more playable civilizations. [Sept 2011]
  14. Aug 18, 2011
    78
    Age of Empires is a nice free2play game and true to the heart of the series. It has nevertheless some balancing issues especially in coop and the comic look is definitly not for everyone.
  15. Sep 19, 2011
    75
    Age of Empires Online is pretty, well-designed and a little bit nostalgic RTS. But the shortcomings of a freemium model are obvious here: to win you have to pay. [October 2011, p.99]
  16. Aug 24, 2011
    75
    In keeping with the chocolate bar metaphor, even apart from these issues, and the hefty price tag associated with the premium content, once you bite past the tasty yet somewhat odd MMO shell there's still a delicious RTS core to savour. Mmm, Age of Empires.
  17. Aug 21, 2011
    75
    Like any good freemium game, Age of Empires Online offers plenty to do without paying, but is constantly encouraging you to upgrade.
  18. 70
    Online sequel to the legendary strategic series focuses on a different target group than its predecessors and promises to become a global phenomenon. [Dec 2011]
  19. Oct 3, 2011
    70
    An excellent free-to-play game, but a less than stellar paid experience. Definitely worth the download, but not worth your cash. [Nov 2011, p.44]
  20. Sep 15, 2011
    70
    If you choose to get the free version, Age of Empires Online has many hours of content to offer, however, the restrictions of this version gets the game closer to a "giant demo".
  21. Sep 12, 2011
    70
    It's most suitable for newbies, as the veterans will miss all the advanced options. The first will anyway find some good fun in this lighter version of the historic RTS.
  22. Sep 7, 2011
    70
    Age of Empires Online could has been a great free to play game. Unfortunately a bad implementation of the freemium model ruins all the instances.
  23. Sep 1, 2011
    70
    Quotation forthcoming.
  24. Aug 31, 2011
    70
    Being free and highly accessible, AOEO will certainly score with casual gamers, but the repetition and lack of depth make it hard to recommend dropping coin on premium content.
  25. Aug 29, 2011
    70
    Age of Empires Online's jaunt across the ancient world serves as a robust and enjoyable free introduction to the real-time strategy genre, but if you're willing to plunk out $20 to $100 dollars for a complete strategy experience, you'll find much better options elsewhere.
  26. Aug 24, 2011
    70
    Caught somewhere between massively-multiplayer online role-playing game and hardcore competitive real-time strategy, Age of Empires Online delivers some of the most addictive parts of both. Some sloppy mechanics and balance and reward issues detract from the core Age of Empires experience, but not to the point that it's not worth playing.
  27. Aug 17, 2011
    70
    Age of Empires, great as it was, doesn't quite stand up against the best in the RTS genre today - and Age of Empires Online doesn't improve on its mighty predecessors in any meaningful way in-game, while adding a lot of bumf around it of questionable value.
  28. Aug 16, 2011
    70
    There's still fun to be had here, though given the choice series fans and strategy purists will likely boot up a previous title, such as the genre-defining Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings instead.
  29. Mar 9, 2012
    67
    In the end, Age of Empires Online works well as a demo rather than a F2P game. There just doesn't seem to have been enough thought about what each element from the MMO and RTS genres bring to the party. Instead, they've just been thrown together.
  30. Oct 12, 2011
    67
    A fine RTS in the classic tradition, but it takes players far too long to get to the good parts--even if you pay. [Dec 2011, p.76]
  31. Oct 8, 2011
    65
    It's beautiful, free and addictive to a point, but Age of Empires Online's battles fail to deliver a challenge. [Nov 2011, p.110]
  32. Sep 25, 2011
    65
    While there are a lot of positive elements to Age of Empires Online which see it retain the series' core strategy mechanics, you can't help but shake the feeling that there is a decent amount of content hidden away from you.
  33. Sep 13, 2011
    65
    Age of Empire Online is the good old strategic game we all remember, with its infamous flaws we all remember (AI and pathfinding) and the free-to-play business model that hinders the overall experience in favor of Microsoft's easy cash gains.
  34. Sep 8, 2011
    65
    By no means a breakthrough in the RTS genre. Veteran players of games such as StarCraft, Supreme Commander or even Age of Empires III will most likely find that it lacks the depth of its bretheren. Still, in spite of its abysmal AI and other design flaws, AoE Online has a certain appeal, thanks to its interesting progression. For some players, the game will work just like an MMORPG: questing may not always be exciting, but the reward system will keep them coming back.
  35. Sep 2, 2011
    65
    Age of Empires Online effectively infuses its conventional real-time strategy gameplay with massively multiplayer online-style loot and leveling mechanics.
  36. Nov 9, 2011
    60
    To use its whole potential you have to dig deep into your pockets to unlock premium content. The only thing left for the fans of the series is to hope for Age of Empires IV. [November 2011, p.80]
  37. Sep 1, 2011
    60
    If you want to "play for free", then Age of Empires Online has enough content to keep you entertained for about forty hours. But if you want to play it as a completive "pvp" RTS, the only way to do it is by purchasing the Premium content. If you choose the second way, you will find out that AOE Online has far less content and options than some older AOE titles.
  38. Aug 23, 2011
    60
    Quotation forthcoming.
  39. Aug 21, 2011
    60
    Real-time strategy for the FarmVille generation, and yet it still owes too much to the past - and offers far less than it pretends for free.
  40. Aug 19, 2011
    60
    We don't feel that all the pieces are in place just yet.
  41. Aug 17, 2011
    60
    It's never worse than pleasant, and the evergreen villages, the jaunty swagger of its cows and donkeys and the peaceful expansion of your city are exactly the kind of recharging experiences Taylor talked about providing four years ago. It's only a shame that the repetition, and a lack of anything to look forward to, mean that you eventually realise your grass still needs to be cut.
  42. Aug 16, 2011
    60
    An aggressively contemporary take on a classic series that'll divide as many as it conquers.
  43. Aug 23, 2011
    58
    The fact that so much game is available for everyone for free right away is a noble idea, but there needs to be more of a benefit to those who invest in a premium version.
  44. Sep 9, 2011
    50
    The game is by no means worthy of the legacy its series has created, but it's not entirely horrible either.
User Score
5.6

Mixed or average reviews- based on 180 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 77
  2. Negative: 37 out of 77
  1. Aug 18, 2011
    4
    Competitive player review incoming. First things first, let's get 'free' out of the way. This game is not free. The DEMO is free, that is, the two somewhat playable races are free, the two lowest level gear tiers are free (common/uncommon), and mind numbing PvE is free. This game does do what it sets out to do, however. It was designed to be casual, to be easy and thoughtless and to make a ton of money, and it will likely succeed in all areas. It's not a 'free' game for anyone who enjoys PvP or balance for that matter. It's not a game for anyone who LIKES MONEY, since each race costs what the price of the entire game should be, $20 dollars. Worse yet, unless I am missing something while I painstakingly searched all the controls and settings, they don't even provide hotkeys outside of opening up the settings and controls and digging around for them. No, that barracks you want to build, there is a hotkey but you're too stupid to be told what it is, just click on it. That is the tone of the entire game, a casual, boring, anti-competitive money sink. Cannot recommend this to like-minded tryhards like myself, or anyone who enjoys a challenge for that matter. Full Review »
  2. Aug 21, 2011
    3
    AOE: Online is one of those games that deserves 2 scores in a review. One for what it sets out to do, and one for what it does. At the core of the experience is a highly addictive, fun and competitive online RTS game. Mixed into it are RPG elements such as quests, loot, upgrades and epic items. These let you customize your army to your hearts extent. The upgrades are significant, able to buff the strength of a unit by more than 50%. It makes every match different as you'll encounter players with different items and units at their disposal. While there are still the expected balance issues, it's a fantastic experience.

    But there are negatives to this game, unfortunately a lot of them. The main problem is it's payment model. It claims to be a micro-transaction game but nothing could be less true. The cheapest items you'll find are $7.50 each, and consist of a pack of trees or statues to place in your capital for decoration. Seems pricey? Wait until you see the rest. A premium Civilization will set you back $20 for each one you buy. If you want to purchase everything there is for the next six months, it'll cost you $100. But it's free to play right? No. Unlike other similar F2P Microtransaction titles, Age of Empires cripples its free players. If you don't pay, you have no Advisors (which buff your units), you cannot get equip rare or epic items, and some units will simply be locked out entirely. The power of the locked out units is far greater than the default ones, as demonstrated early on when the game gives you a few of them to mess around with in a PvE scenario. Lacking units plus loot, a free player will NEVER be able to beat a paid subscriber who knows what he's doing. The advantage is just too big, meaning it's pay2win.

    That set aside, there are plenty of issues with the game balance itself as well. For starters, matchmaking is downright broken. When you first set foot in PvP, you'll be level 6. Without hesitating, the game will match you against level 20+ players time and time again. Not only will their identical units be twice as powerful as yours, they'll be able to tech up to an age you don't have access to. You'll be pounding his Tier 3 reinforced stone fortress to no avail with your Tier 1 Spearman as you realize that no matter how many units you produce, you have no way of winning. The RTS games themselves are slowpaced. Your Town Hall, the village-producing default building, comes with a free turret inside it and a crapload of health. Rushing and harassing is impossible here as it chews up tier 1 units and puts the hurt on tier 2 as well. That means the first 5 minutes of every match are the same. Make villagers, get resources, tech up and build units. It becomes tedious fast. Unlock more modern RTSes, there's no constant back and forth here. You want a surefire way to win? Keep your army in 1 place, wait until your ready and storm the opposing army. Expanding beyond your main base is unneccessary and pointless the first 40 minutes and will rarely come into play.

    The PvE factor, the only content available for free players, is downright boring. The first 4-5 hours consist of only tutorial missions. There's no story here, no voice acting or cutscenes. It's build your base and destroy the opposing base. It wouldn't be so bad if the AI gave you any resistance at all, but it doesn't. They send the same 4-5 men to your base every 5 minutes, and your town hall alone is usually sufficient to fend them off. These missions would be over in minutes were it not for the enemy towers placed everywhere that chew up your units. Again, boring, and repetitive.

    It all adds up to a very flawed experience. There's some great fun here. The loot system is unique and addictive. The PvP can be very satisfying, and CooP PvE is still fun as always. The horde-like Crete addon you can purchase is engaging and challenging. But the payment model is unfair to freeloaders. Without those, your community will crumble due to the lack of players. Microsoft has overpriced their content by at least 50% here and made some very poor choices as to what to give to free players. Make no mistake, this game is not free to play. You get a stripped down demo as a free player and have no chance to win. It's a business model that leaves a very sour taste, and I hope that the game fails miserably because of it. So in what it tries to do, I'll give it a 9/10. It's addictive and can be great fun.
    But for what it accomplishes, a 3/10 is generous, and I'm feeling generous today.
    Full Review »
  3. Aug 20, 2011
    5
    AoE online is an okay RTS. The problem is, it's the most expensive okay RTS out there. Be warned if you're playing on an internet connection that isn't 100% stable too - as this game will boot you to the menu screen as soon as you experience even the slightest drop out. Full Review »