Age of Empires fans with older PCs and laptops will still get a chance to experience the fourth instalment in the franchise via the Min Spec mode.
Age of Empires' storied existence spans almost one-quarter of a century and, in this time, strategy game fans around the world have had a chance to re-live historical events dating all the way back to the Stone Age. The latest game in the franchise is Age of Empires IV, available for PC on October 28.
The folks from World’s Edge and Relic Entertainment have thought about the series' fans who don't necessarily have access to newer PCs, and thus came the idea of the Min Spec Mode for Age of Empires IV.
The Min Spec mode is triggered via a combination of in-game settings, made with help from an auto-detection system when players first launch the game and can be referenced or tweaked from the settings menu. It will allow players on older and lower-powered machines to experience Age of Empires IV.
Joel Pritchett, Technical Director at World’s Edge: "The low spec renderer is equivalent to what we would have built for an Xbox 360. We know how to do that. We just needed time to do it right. Art, on the other hand, had different challenges, such as building multiple asset sets for example."
There will, of course, be some trade-offs for the folks playing Age of Empires IV in Min Spec mode. Running the game with recommended specs will yield high unit counts, high-resolution models, lots of detailed explosions, and 8 player battles. Min Spec mode, in contrast, will produce lower resolution textures, less destruction, simpler lighting, less visual flourish, and 4 player battles.
Players who choose Min Spec mode will trade in some of the added spectacles of larger-player battles or high-end image and texture quality for the experience of playing the latest game in the franchise without upgrading their rig.
Min Spec mode is not necessarily just for older PCs and laptops: "It’s worth noting that some of our competitive testers preferred the low spec renderer because it's visually clearer and you get a better framerate," said Pritchett.
Age of Empires IV will launch on October 28, 2021.