Here's a first look at Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition on console

Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition for Console
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

What you need to know

  • Today in the Official Xbox Podcast we got our first look at gameplay footage from Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition port for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.
  • Creative Director Adam Isgreen showed a radial menu for commanding troops and a tidy user interface.
  • The developers are passionate about accessibility and making the game as comfortable as possible for controller use by making quality-of-life improvements to the game. 

Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition has been officially announced at the Age of Empires' 25th Anniversary Broadcast to come to Xbox consoles on Jan. 31, 2023—and today we got our first real look at how gameplay will look on a console configuration. Creative Director Adam Isgreen appeared on The Official Xbox Podcast to field questions from Larry Hryb (Major Nelson) about the port and how the studio will truly bring this legendary real-time-strategy (RTS) game to life on the Xbox console. 

The full broadcast of the footage can be viewed in our link above, which should start from where Adam begins to display the console gameplay. The user interface (UI) looks pleasantly clean and uncluttered, with quick access functions. Adam states the design for the UI was "similar to Halo Wars and other RTS games" in that you can immediately select your units, workers and buildings from the bottom of the screen.  

Unit selection in Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Perhaps the most interesting part of the footage is when Adam shows a slick radial menu for grouping up units. Something that has previously been limited to F keys on a keyboard. With the radial menu, it shouldn't take more than a couple of clicks to get to what you want, whether that be grouping up or upgrading buildings. The radial menu has apparently gone through various iterations and extensive testing with focus groups to reach its current state. 

Age of Empires 2 radial menu in console edition

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Adam was keen to emphasize how committed Xbox Game Studios are to ensuring that console players can perform on a competitive level with PC players with this port. With the console version, the player is put in more of a commander role than needing to micro-manage each individual task. An example of this is a huge quality of life change, your villagers will now automatically go to the nearest unassigned job. No need to crack the whip! See this in action at 44:55.

It's clear in this interview that accessibility is a high priority when it comes to crafting the controls for this game and Xbox Game Studios' other titles. It was touched upon that while a keyboard may be the definitive way to play RTS games, they want to make sure no player is left behind and that they can support every function via a two-button mouse. This concept has been a driving force behind the controller interface. It's worth noting though, that console players are able to play with a keyboard and mouse if they choose.

The Xbox console ports of Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition and Age of Empires IV  will launch next year in 2023. Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition is scheduled to be released on Jan. 31, 2023. Both games will be available on Xbox Cloud Gaming along with the ever-expanding library of Xbox Game Pass games.

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PC Game Pass

If you can't wait for the console port, Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition is already on PC Game Pass, or available to purchase directly via the Xbox Store. Just $1 for your first month, PC Game Pass offers incredible value and access to a huge library of titles. 

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Jen is a News Writer for Windows Central, focused on all things gaming and Microsoft. Anything slaying monsters with magical weapons will get a thumbs up such as Dark Souls, Dragon Age, Diablo, and Monster Hunter. When not playing games, she'll be watching a horror or trash reality TV show, she hasn't decided which of those categories the Kardashians fit into. You can follow Jen on Twitter @Jenbox360 for more Diablo fangirling and general moaning about British weather.