Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition's anniversary update brings a ton of new content and balancing

Age Of Empires 2 De Battle Royale Art
Age Of Empires 2 De Battle Royale Art (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition has received a massive update for its one-year anniversary.
  • A Battle Royale game mode is now available for all players.
  • Gameplay, menus, UI, and Scenario Editor have been reworked and refreshed.
  • A new seasonal event through December 1 offers new unlocks and rewards.

Game Update 42848 (as it's officially known) is Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition's 21st update since its release a year ago. It's clear the developers care deeply about this game, which anyone who has played it steadily for the past year can attest. In-game events, new maps, new missions, new rewards, AI tweaks, matchmaking fixes, and more have been added to the game since its release.

And now, with the anniversary update, it's clear the game isn't slowing down anytime soon. Perhaps most enticing is the new Age of Empires 2 take on Battle Royale. First shown off in a weekend tournament (won by Age of Empires 2 caster and farming genius T90Official), this should prove to be a popular game mode for anyone who wants a quick, unconventional match. Eight players engage in a free-for-all battle across five different maps that continuously shrink down until there's nothing left but carnage and a victor.

The new Quickplay menu helps get into Battle Royale games as fast as possible, and it's also available for Random Map and Empire Wars game modes. It's all part of a major UI update that makes it easier than ever to choose a game mode, pick a civilization based on its strengths and weaknesses, and start playing. Multiplayer rules for some game modes have also been tweaked.

Bringing balance to the ages

It appears a lot of work has gone into this update in terms of balancing gameplay. A real-time strategy (RTS) game with this many maps and civilizations is no doubt tough to perfect, so it's good to see constant improvements.

Some highlights from the update include palisade wall build time being increased and wall foundation armor being removed. This should shake up the quick-wall meta we so often see among pro players. Out of the 35 civilizations, 19 have had units and techs tweaked, whether to make them more viable or to nerf some overpowered features. Maps have also seen a ton of balancing changes, with everything from resource generation to unit placement.

Along with stability tweaks and performance upgrades — especially for late-game mass-unit mayhem — AI has been improved to put up a better fight against those who prefer playing offline. On the flip side, pathfinding (a forever enemy of the RTS) has been adjusted and some bugs have been squashed.

A far longer list of patch notes is available at the official Age of Empires website, including in-depth information about the changes in the anniversary update.

Anniversary event explosions

Up until December 1, an anniversary event has Age of Empires 2: DE in a festive mood. Along with four new birthday-themed profile avatars to unlock, there are new Town Center birthday streamers and confetti explosions for research or age advancements. If that's not enough, Petards, Demo Ships, and Flaming Camels can have fireworks attached to them for extra boom.

These additions are available to unlock, but only for a limited time (you can keep the unlocks following the event as long as you sign in with your Xbox Live account). To unlock, you'll have to test out some of the new features, including playing a Battle Royale match and using the revamped Quickplay feature.

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.