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Age of Empires 4: Byzantines details revealed

Greek Fire is a go
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It’s Constantinople, not Istanbul with the Byzantines, one of the new civilizations coming to Age of Empires 4 with The Sultans Ascend. They probably have been the most requested culture by fans since the game launched, which is not very surprising – we think about the Roman Empire a lot, after all.

The Byzantines, unlike the Ayyubids and Jeanne d’Arc, are not a Variant Civilization based on an existing faction, but are a completely new culture players will be able to pick.

Age of Empires 4 Byzantines artwork.

The Byzantines are coming to town!

They have access to a new resource in addition to the series staples of food, gold, wood, and stone – olive oil. This liquid resource can be gathered from olive groves, which replace regular farms for the Byzantines.

Water is another important aspect of this civilization: You can transport water through a network of aqueducts and cisterns to grant your villagers and buildings a variety of bonuses. The larger this transport network is, the more potent those boons will become.

Age of Empires 4 Byzantine cistern.

Placing cisterns and aqueducts strategically will be an important skill in mastering the Byzantines.

On the military side, the Byzantines have access to a system of mercenaries enabling them to react to threats in a versatile manner. They also come with the power of Greek Fire, which can be used by their trebuchets, dromons, and Cheirosiphons. Wherever Greek Fire lands – being on the ground or on water – it continues to burn, remaining a danger to surrounding units.

Confirmed Byzantine unique units:

  • Cataphracts: Heavily armored melee cavalry that replaces the Knight, but costs more and comes with a powerful charge attack.
  • Varangian Guard: Elite melee infantry that can switch from a shielded kit to wielding a two-handed ax, which provides bonus damage to their berserk ability.
  • Cheirosiphon: The Cheirosiphon replaces the Ram and is basically a slow-moving and armored flamethrower.
  • Limitanei: Replacing the Spearman, the Limitanei can activate a shield wall ability that allows them to tank more ranged fire at the cost of movement speed and attack speed.

As the Byzantines advance through the ages, they get access to more and more cisterns they can connect, making forward planning of your base layout a priority – after all, you want as many gatherers and buildings to benefit from the network as possible. It looks like the available Age 2 Landmarks are The Grand Winery, which allows the recruitment of mercenaries and provides a production boost to olive oil, and the Imperial Hippodrome, which can quickly produce cavalry.

Your options for the Age 3 Landmark are The Golden Horn Tower and the Cistern of the First Hill. With the tower you’ll be able to get mercenaries free of charge and automatically, while the latter comes with a potent healing effect unlocked by the Pilgrim Flask technology.

In Age 4, the Foreign Engineering Company allows the Byzantines to build siege units from other factions. Alternatively, the Palatine School provides further upgrades and recruitment for many of the Byzantines’ core units.

Overall, it looks like the Byzantines come with plenty of fresh concepts and will field a varied, but elite army – and in terms of aesthetics, you can never go wrong with Rome. This definitely looks like it will fulfill the fans’ hefty expectations.

The Sultans Ascend launches on November 14, 2023, for PC and Xbox Series X|S.