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.
User Score
5.6

Mixed or average reviews- based on 184 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, theCompetitive 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 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 connectionAoE 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 »
  3. 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 ofAOE: 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 »