Age of Empires 4

Getting started on Age of Empires 4

Oyez Oyez, young adventurers! You've decided to get into Age of Empires 4, build your reputation on the battlefield and start your plan to conquer the world? Mandatory is here to help you get your feet wet with a series of guides and tips for novice, beginner and amateur players who want to improve.

The following tips will help you get the most out of player vs. player or computer combat. If you simply want to enjoy the historical content available in Age of Empires 4, you can play only the campaign mode. In addition, you can select the Story difficulty level to fully experience the game without worrying about the computer attacking you.

In campaign mode you can choose between different difficulties

Do the tutorial

There's no secret. If you want to get started with Age of Empires, whether it's to play occasionally or to invest in the ranked mode, you'll need to be able to do so, you must know the basics of the game. Your initiation goes through the tutorial. This will give you a first understanding of the mechanics of Age of Empires.

Also, if you've already played the other games in the franchise, there's nothing like a refresher course. You will review the basics of economics and warfare as well as the construction of buildings. Also, you will learn about the age change, which is set up differently from previous versions of the game. Finally, this tutorial will give you a good first impression of Age of Empires 4.

Age changes on Age of Empires

As you can see, each game of Age of Empires will invite you to evolve your civilization through different periods. These periods will allow you to discover various architectural and technological influences: this is what we call the ages. Each of the civilizations can go through 4 ages :

  • Age I or the Dark Ages
  • Age II or the feudal age
  • Age III or the age of castles
  • Age IV or the imperial age

Depending on the game, you may or may not reach the fourth age. Indeed, civilizations such as the Mongols will allow you to rush the enemy city quickly, giving you the opportunity to end the game early!

At the time of the passage from one age to the other you can choose between two monuments to buildThe Chinese and Abbasid civilisations have some peculiarities. Indeed, the Chinese and Abbasid civilizations have some particularities. As you progress through the ages, you will get bonuses, and you can access new content to gain an advantage over your opponent.

For more information on the subject, you can consult our age change guide.

Choose your Age of Empires victory condition

In Age of Empires 4, there are several ways to win the game; three to be precise. You only need to complete one of these three objectives to win, but you can try to complete all three in parallel. These different objectives are visible in the upper left part of your screen:

  • The first victory condition is fairly self-explanatory. To win, you must raze the enemy city to the ground, destroying all enemy monumentsis. You must then differentiate between simple buildings and monuments. The latter correspond to forums and buildings built during the changes of age.
  • The second objective tells you to build a wonder. This is the ultimate buildable building in Age of Empires 4. In fact, this objective is twofold as you will have to defend your wonderOnce built, it will last for a fixed period of time.
  • The third and final method takes you into the search for sacred places. On each map, 2 sacred places will be randomly placed. You will be able to capture them from age III. Once again, when you are in possession of the various sacred places, you will have to push back the opposing pushes for a while before you can win.

To learn more about winning methods, please refer to our guide to victory conditions.

Take the first steps in the Art of War

The outcome of a match will depend greatly on your ability to manage your economy or siege your opponent. If you have never played Age of Empires before, you can consider the 'Art of War' mode. This one offers you challenges, timed, to teach you the basics on different subjects.

These different challenges are ultimately other forms of more advanced tutorials. They allow you, for example, to understand how to manage your economy At the beginning of the game you have to be precise and efficient! You will also have the opportunity to test your understanding of military manoeuvres and learn to take advantage of the terrain to win your battles.

Learn how different civilizations work

In Age of Empires 4 you can enjoy different civilizations: the French, the English, the Chinese, the Delhi Sultanate, the Abbasid Dynasty, the Rus, the Holy Roman Empire, the Mongols, the Malians and the Ottomans.

Each of them has unique units, specific technologies and a variety of gameplay ! You're bound to find something to suit you, but you'll have to get to grips with them one by one. Think of the single player game against the computer in easy mode.

You can also testing civilisations without an opponent This will allow you to discover their units or specific buildings at the age you want, with a maximum of resources. These settings are made in the skirmish control panel.

Also, you can already learn about each of the available civilizations. Find all our civilisation guides. These guides will allow you to discover the specific units, bonuses, advantages and disadvantages of the different civilizations, but also the strategic bases of each one. Note: the Malian guides will arrive soon.

Understand the strategic foundations of each civilisation

While there are obviously useful strategies with multiple civilisations, such as the 'pro-scout rush', each civilisation has its own subtleties. Some will require you to play more defensive gameplay, others will send you into battle quickly, and still others will require you to be relatively mobile. You will also need to understand how to use the different age monuments, and how to make the most of the bonuses of each civilisation.

By spending some time understanding the game mechanics of each civilisation, you will find it easier to anticipate the right counter-attacks to make. In addition, it will allow you to quickly make the decisions necessary to develop your own civilisation without wasting time.

You can find all our advice on the basics of strategy for each civilisation in the various guides.

Access all the guides, including those dedicated to civilisations.

Discover the different maps

If you take the time to understand and analyse the type of terrain each map offers, you will add another string to your bow, and not the least. This gives you the possibility to play solo games, without computer, just to have a look aroundYou can also choose which map you want to explore.

To start a solo game, go to Solo > Skirmish > Create Game.


To select a particular map, go to Map Setup > Change Map. You should arrive at a page like the one below:

Getting started on Age of Empires 4 - aoe4 single player game change cards 1 -

Be careful, in every game, the relief of the map is indeed randomly generated Nevertheless, you can still appreciate the overall constitution of the map. For example, if you play the "Mountain Passage" map several times, you will realise that it is always a mix of flat areas, mountainous areas and forests, there will be no water available.

It may seem long and tedious, but the effort will be rewarded! When you see the name of the card displayed at the beginning of the game, you will be able to consider one strategy rather than another right away.

Learn to manage food

In Age of Empires 4, you will have access to 4 different resources: gold, wood, stone and food. Each of the first three has a particular use and may or may not be of use to you, depending on the civilisation you play.

When it comes to food, there are no exceptions! All civilizations need to provide themselves with food to evolveWithout a sufficient supply you cannot produce any units, be it villagers or soldiers. In order to sustain your civilisation, you have several sources of food: berries, sheep, game or fish.

Some civilisations cannot use all food sources, but get benefits from another source in return. For example, the Abbasids cannot hunt wild boar, but receive bonuses from the harvesting of berries.

In addition, you can use different buildings and technologies, depending on your civilisation, to increase your harvest or store food.

To find out more about the farming of this resource, please refer to our guide to food sources.


Know the important commands and shortcuts

When you play an RTS, Age of Empires in this case, all your actions must be efficient, and useful. Your game is completely timed. Missing a villager with the mouse and forgetting him behind a building is enough to set your economy back, or spending a few seconds too long gathering your military units is enough to lose a battle.

To avoid this kind of unpleasantness, you have a number of shortcuts available. Some of these are essential, others will be useful once you get the hang of the game.

  • Here is a non-exhaustive list of useful shortcuts to get you started:

Right-click and stretch the area to select multiple units at once.

Left click to select a unit.

Double click left on a unit to select all units of that type visible on the screen.

Press CTRL+A to select all units visible on the screen.

Press CTRL+SHIFT+A to select all units. You can add or remove a unit from the selection by using the SHIFT+[click on unit] command.

Press CTRL+M to select all military units.

Select units and then press CTRL+[a number] to associate its units. This will allow you to select the whole group with the chosen number.

Hold down the SHIFT key to increase the number of successive actions. For example, you can send a scout to several locations on the map.

Press H to refocus the camera on your forum.

Press SPACE to centre your camera.

Hold down the ALT key and use your mouse to rotate the camera.

Playing against other players and the computer

To train, you have two possibilities: fight against the computer or against other players. If you are not feeling too comfortable, you may want to consider playing against the computer, which can be set to different difficulty levels, so you can take it up a notch when you feel more confident. Use these matches against the computer to test your initial understanding of the game and the civilisation you are playing. These matches are also a good way to fine-tune your strategies.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to switch to the second option at some point, especially if you are considering the ranked mode. The games against the computer will be formative, but the computer does not react exactly as a real, human opponent would!

Now you have a good foundation for your first games of Age of Empires 4. Now all you have to do is play, play, and play some more to familiarize yourself with the game mechanics, to develop and improve your strategies, and to discover all the possibilities that the game offers.

Please feel free to follow our more detailed guides if you need more information or if you want to go into more detail on certain topics.

All Age of Empires 4 Guides