Age of Empires HD beta invites will go out this week, here's how to sign up

Age of Empires is one of the most iconic real-time strategy (RTS) titles ever made. Built by Ensemble Studios and originally launched in 1997, Age of Empires proved a huge hit, and the franchise went on to sell over 20 million copies.

In 2013, Microsoft launched Age of Empires II HD on Steam, and began issuing updates and even new expansions, despite the game's age. Age of Empires II HD has proven insatiably popular, with eSports matches raking in tens of thousands of viewers on Twitch. Microsoft is now giving the original Age of Empires the same treatment, with refreshed 4K UHD visuals, improvements to A.I. and new zoom levels to give the classic game some modern flair.

Whether you're a fan of the franchise or a newcomer, Age of Empires HD is about to hit closed beta with an insider program similar to Sea of Thieves. The invites will begin heading out this week, so if you're ready to wololo yourself back into the medieval age, here's where you can sign up!

Sign up for the Age of Empires HD beta

Considering the success of Age of Empires II HD, it looks likely that Age of Empires HD could also prove to be a significant hit. If all goes well, maybe Microsoft will consider putting together a modern Age of Empires IV one day, who knows?

Let us know if you're going to join the Age of Empires HD beta in the comments, and make sure you check out Age of Empires II HD on Steam using the link below for $19.99.

See at GreenManGaming (Steam PC) (opens in new tab)

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • "Considering the success of Age of Empires II HD, it looks likely that Age of Empires HD could also prove to be a significant hit." Unfortunately it won't unless it comes to Steam just like AOE2HD did, but so far Microsoft wants to ruin the release by gimping it with Win10 Store on Win10 only; which unfortunately will be a massive failure for a niche RTS game even more then Halo Wars 2 is on the PC with no players playing on Win10. Bookmark this coment if you don't believe me and come back here once the game fails without a Steam release; or at least a DRM free release on GOG if not Steam, even that would be a huge step up from the Win10 store player base.  
  • I agree. I think fans will get it no matter where it comes so they'll buy it on win10 store. I think it'll eventually come on steam.  
  • I would not be so sure, that fans will buy it on Win10 Store regardless, as many people especially in less well off countries are still not on Win10 OS, so right there you are cutting off a significant portion of users, combine that with a niche RTS market that is unlikely to attract a ton of new people to a decades old game even if remastered and you have a disaster on your hands. Just look at what happened with Halo Wars 2; same thing happened before with AOEO when it was on the much wider used GFWL, it eventually had to come to Steam to get a user base but by that time it was doomed along with the mistakes the dev team made. If this remaster only comes out on Win10 I will wait and see if there is any user base to actually play with before buying, but judging how terrible HW2 is I am not too optimistic; it just won't have enough people if its limited to Win10 Store to succeed.    
  • i will never buy a game outside steam, i don't want to split my library with 5151 useless store
  • No matter what people want to believe, UWP is the future. Do you believe Win32 will last forever? Technology evolves and we can't be stuck in the past.
  • There is a future after Win32, I just don't believe its UWP, at least not in its current state with all its current limitations and being tied to a store all Devs have to pay a commission to Microsoft for. If Microsoft does not make crucial changes, UWP just like Microsofts mobile efforts and GFWL will die a slow death all to the dismay of those who bought into another failed Microsoft venture.  
  • Do you own an Apple or Android device. Of course you do (everyone does). The Apple app store and Google Play store are the same and nobody bats an eye to it. If Microsoft does it, everyone tries to kill it with fire. UWP is new and new apps are added all the time, but if no one attempts to give it a chance, then they will fulfill the prophecy of making it fail. If you don't like certain things about the Windows 10 store, you can become an insider and give constructive feedback to help make it better.
  • Not everyone does, I still have my trusty Nokia lumia 1020; but thats beside the point; The point is both Apple and Android stores started as closed systems, on the other hand PC is a complete opposite, it has always been an open system and will always stay that way no matter what; the only thing that will happen by Microsoft trying to destroy what they have built over the past several decades is that they will alienate more and more people and devs away from using Windows, and thats not something Microsoft can afford to do now that Android has overtaken Windows; Microsoft is once more trying to shove on people something noone asked for and nobody really wants, apart from a few die hard fans that are all over MS stuff like the insider programs, working for free as QC testers. Plus it does not really look like Microsoft wants UWP to succeed, so why should users and developers buy into it? If Microsoft was serious they would keep their mobile efforts alive to truly push UWP, but instead they are "retrenching" on all sides, and that does not build confidence in your products.  
  • Devs have to pay a commission to GoG and Steam. So speaking in terms of games, your point is pretty much moot.
  • Why would I care if it is on Steam or not? I have the Windows store anyway, so I'll just grab it from there. A lot of talk for nothing.
  • You would care when you find out nobody is playing it on the Windows Store and thus the multiplayer is dead; I guess if you are buying it for single player only you would not care. How do I know it will be dead? Because Halo Wars 2 on the Windows Store has a dead multiplayer, not interested in investing in another dead game.  
  • I totally agree with you John. I'm not a fan of UWP. And I totally agree with what you said about the close system and how the multiplayer will probably be dead after few days. I also believe it's a mistake not to have it on steam day one. Personally I'll get it no matter what. I would have totally bought it on steam if I had the option. I'm not buying it to play online. I enjoyed the original game playing single player and that's what I'm looking for. If it does come later on steam, I would have been screwed once again by MS. But I accept it. I'll probably get it again on steam. I'm also buying this game to show that there are fans out there. MS may be testing the waters on this franchise. I want MS to invest and make another age of empire.
  • You're store comment is speculation. Nowhere does anything say it'll be only on the store, or even windows 10 only. Why waste the effort complaining about something that hasn't happened?
  • Its not speculation, the asertion is based on the trailer, and the system specs that say only Win10.  
  • Yes speculation. Windows 7 has reached it's end of mainstream support, new games from Microsoft will be pushing Windows 10 and likely not even tested on previous versions (also the game is a PC only release so regardless any trailor for PC only releases from MS will say Windows 10). It's also an RTS with 4k support which may use Directx 12 and that would require Windows 10. I'm just speculating (just like you) Nothing says the game will be Windows store only at this point.
  • "Nowhere does anything say it'll be only on the store, or even windows 10 only. Why waste the effort complaining about something that hasn't happened?"
    I'm not sure what you're talking about. They already said it was coming exclusively for Windows 10 and available for purchase from the Windows Store.
  • That was my bad saying Windows 10 only, but nothing says Windows store only. Windows 10 exclusive and coming to windows store, does not equal Windows store only. 
  • Sorry but it looks like you're not sure what you're talking about. Are you even interested or a fan of the original age of empire or are you just trying to damage control for a brand/company?  They already said it was coming exclusively on windows store when ask if it was coming on steam. "We’ve chosen to release “Age of Empires: Definitive Edition” exclusively in the Windows Store and we’re excited about what that entails, including tons of Xbox Live goodness (achievements, cloud saves, multiplayer on the fastest, more reliable gaming network and more)."
  • Got a link to that? Posting something in quotes literally means nothing.
  • Can't you just google the entire quote? -_- It's in the forum of the official website This is something that fans have known for months now. Are you even a fan of the orginal age of empire? Did you sign up for the Age of Empires Insider Program?
  • Yeah I'm not doing your research for you. If you know it's true, you find it. If its difficult to find, you can see why people would miss it. And yes, I am part of the insiders.
  • Research FOR ME??? Unlike you I'm a fan of the original game so I know what I'm talking about. This is not something I need to research or find. I knew this FROM JUNE. You are just a clueless MS/XB fan who is trying to damage control any criticism of MS/XB on different topics. I don't need to "find" things for clueless company "fans" like you. Most of the real fans looking forward to this game know this information since June
    It was even mentionned right here on windowscentral. So if YOU are going to make wild statements like "Nowhere does anything say it'll be only on the store, or even windows 10 only" and accusing people of speculating.
    At least DO YOUR RESEARCH before. You would have saved everyone's time by not posting all your bs comments here.
  • Ok I was wrong, I'm willing to admit that. Don't assume someone's fan status of anything because they missed information. Obviously your quote is not easy to find or else you would have posted a link to that. 
  • Not easy to find? LOL It's literally the first link on google. Takes less than 5 seconds to "find" it. And you're obviously not as well informed as John or myself on this. When someone learns that a game (he is a fan of) is coming, I would think the first thing he would do is see on which platforms they are on. Where he could buy the game. When this was first announced this was my first post about it: (June 12th) 
    "Wow that was so great. I got to thank MS for this. 
    I'm getting this day one! This is one of my favourite game/franchise ever and I want to show support for this. ofc I want AOE 4 more than anything else from MS but this is nice. They are teasing more AOE news for gamescom.
    I just can't wait for gamescom now."
    Can you post your initial reaction to the announcement of the game? Did you even make one? lol These is basic information that a fan should know. But since you seem to have a tought time here: (read the whole topic if you like)
  • You can question how big a fan I am all you want. I couldn't care less as I don't know you and you don't know me. I have nothing to prove to you about what I am and am not a fan of (you'll assume what you want to regardless)
  • Oh but everyone here can see for themselves who is fan of what and what you are trying to do whenever someone is criticising your beloved MS/XB. John and myself are fans of age of empire. We have posted when this was announced. The only post I see of you are the one where you damage control for a brand with false information. It's clear for everyone to see. We are fans of the game/franchise. You are fan of a company/brand.
    Anyway, I don't want to waste more time with you. Next time do your research before attacking fans of a game... You'll save everyone's time. 
  • I am hoping to see a real new AoE some day. I am actually really sad that AoE Online was shut down so soon. I really enjoyed the game, and would love to see it come back online someday.
  • Same, AOEO was the best AOE IMO, had hundreds of hours in it co-oping countless missions with friends. Would love to see it re-launched also; but that was more of a spin-off, a true AOE IV would be great, but since Microsoft shuttered Ensemble, they simply don't have the talent to do a whole new AOE game, hence why they focus on remakes which any dev studio can reasonably acomplish.    
  • I like Age of empire online, but it was not my favourite. I was really pissed they shut it down so soon after launch. For me, the best was AOE2 followed by the orginal. I'm still bitter about MS closing down Ensemble. MS should have never got Ensemble studios. :( Still hoping for the next game in the serie.
  • Will the AOE HD be a PC game or Xbox? I still play AOE3 to this day. AOE3 and quake2 are the only games that I have installed and still on a regular basis.
  • Completely agree, with KB/M support on Xbox and cross play enabled, it would not have a huge problem of noone playing on PC as you could play against Xbox users as well. But as it is now it is shaping up to be another missed opportunity by MS and a complete disaster.  
  •   It's a damn shame that one of Microsoft's biggest franchises has never seen the light of day on console. The Halo Wars games have proven that RTS games can be done right on console. Phil Spencer really needs to address this issue.
  • The best solution would be to finally do kb/m support for the Xbox, Spencer and ones before him have been promissing this for years and we are still waiting. This would enable all games to be fully playable regardless of UI,  and it would make life so much easier when you need to type anything to have a keyboad on hand.  
  • Anyone getting this error when signing up? "There is a problem with your login. Please be sure you are using a Microsoft account with an XBox Live account associated and that you have authorized access to your profile information if prompted." As far as I know, this should be working for my ID. 
  • I remember a similar issue few weeks back, its a problem with the site, I vaguily remember that it could be solved by editing your username in the browsers dev console, try to search AOE forums or reddit it should be somewhere what to do. edit: found it, solution here