It seems Microsoft is far from being finished with the now 17 year old game, adding another expansion to its record. Released originally in 1999 and remastered for Steam in 2013; Age of Empires II HD is now in the hands of the developing studio SkyBox Labs.
A classic reborn
At release, the remastered HD version included the original game and its expansion The Conquerors; developed by the now defunct development team, Ensemble Studios.
Since then the new developer, SkyBox Labs has added 2 more expansions: The Forgotten and The African Kingdoms which includes 9 new civilizations, campaigns and plenty of balance changes.
They didn’t just stop with gameplay changes however, as the remaster included support for newer computer systems, new Steam multiplayer servers and modding support.
The new expansion
A favorite among classic RTS fans, with Microsoft’s old CEO even being interested in the game; it seemed inevitable another expansion would be coming along sooner or later; Rise of the Rajas is delivering just that.
The Expansion will include 4 fully voiced campaigns for each of the new civilizations: Burma, Malay, Khmer and Vietnam. Each new civilization will have their own style of gameplay to go with a powerful unique unit they will receive.
Two new generic units: Battle Elephants and Imperial Skirmishers are available for all civilizations with unique bonuses depending on the chosen faction.
Players will be fighting in brand new terrains containing rainforests, beaches and shallows; amphibious terrain in which units may travel through and buildings can be constructed.
Among other quality of life changes, the developer has noted updated AI, a spectator mode and the ability to reconnect to games in case of a desync.
Age of Empires II HD: Rise of Rajas expansion pack launches on December 19th and is now available to pre-order from Steam for $9.99; same cost as the other expansions that has been released in the past. Note that the base game is required to play any of the expansion packs, which is up for purchase in Steam for $19.99.