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Age of Empires 4 Has Trebuchets

Age of Empires 4 has some fairly large shoes to fill. The upcoming historical RTS releases for PC this October. Microsoft showed off some new gameplay during the Xbox Gamescom showcase and digressed to talk about one particular piece of medieval artillery.

Microsoft, Xbox Games Studios, and Relic Entertainment really want players to know there are trebuchets in Age of Empires 4. The developers were so excited about the mechanical marvel that they devoted a portion of the showcase to teaching viewers about the high-powered catapult.

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Developers teased trebuchets in a short “Weapons of War” trailer on the 18th. Microsoft doubled down during Gamescom, with a live-action video explaining the counterweight trebuchet’s real-world history and mechanics. Titled Hands on History – The Trebuchet is hosted by mechanical engineer Dr. Shini Somara and shows a modern recreation of a medieval trebuchet. The video is one of the twenty-eight unlockable mini-documentaries in Age of Empire’s 4.

The video offers a detailed look at a marvel of medieval military engineering. For those not up on their siege engines, trebuchets are a type of long-range catapult. The large wooden machines consist of a long boom and a counterweight. As the video explains, soldiers raised the counterweight by walking inside of two giant wheels. When the weight falls, it raises the boom, flinging a heavy stone ball at high velocity. Dr. Somara explains that the only way to punch through castle walls was by striking the same spot repeatedly. That means the trebuchets had to be highly accurate. Alternatively, medieval armies could always hurl animals or corpses as a form of early biological warfare.

One would not normally expect game developers to derail a showcase for a history lesson. However, Age of Empires fans tend to eat this sort of thing up. Created by the now-defunct Ensemble Studios in the 1990s, Age of Empires always took its historical aspect seriously. The still-popular Age of Empires 2 featured an in-game encyclopedia containing historical information on units and civilizations. The Age of Mythology spinoff includes similar entries for its legendary creatures. The inclusion of live-action documentaries suggests Relic is doubling down on this aspect of the venerable real-time strategy franchise.

Microsoft also showed off a new gameplay trailer, introducing more of Age of Empires 4’s Civilizations and Campaigns. The former includes events like the Hundred Years War and the rise of Moscow. Fans also got to see some gameplay featuring the Holy Roman Empire Civilization. The teasers included faction-specific units like Russian Warrior Priests and Streltsy riflemen. Meanwhile, the Holy Romans can use Prelates to boost their economy and Landsknechte swordsmen to crush their enemies. While it’s too soon to say for sure, Age of Empires 4 so far appears to be carrying on the legacy of its predecessors.

Age of Empires 4 releases for Windows PC and Game Pass on October 28, 2021.

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