Skip to main content

Age of Empires 4 devs change names of two Variant Civilizations, explain choices

Great transparency from Relic and World’s Edge
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

The upcoming Age of Empires 4: The Sultans Ascend expansion raised some eyebrows among the community due to the strange naming of some of the Variant Civilizations it will introduce. In a big win for fans of the game, developers Relic and World’s Edge have not only explained their reasoning behind the names they chose, giving us more insight into the design philosophy of the new Variant Civilizations, but they also changed the two most generic faction names.

The Sultan’s Army, a Variant Civilization based on the Abbasids, will now be called the Ayyubids – a perfect choice, since this is the specific dynasty that fought against the Europeans in the Crusades that will be depicted in the upcoming campaign. The Empire of Jade, a faction based on the Chinese, has been renamed to Zhu Xi’s Legacy. Zhu Xi was a neo-Confucian reformer and thinker, who had massive influence on Chinese politics and culture, and it seems like the Variant Civilization will be based around his teachings – much better than the generic previous name.

Jeanne d’Arc (French) and The Order of the Dragon (Holy Roman Empire) are sticking around.

Age of Empires 4 Jeanne d'Arc screenshot.

Jeanne d’Arc will be a hero unit in her own Variant Civilization.

“Naming things is difficult. We need to balance historicity with trying to represent what is unique about a civilization. We talk a lot about names. We try out options. We consult with experts. We test and reflect. But sometimes we miss things or get things wrong,” a blog post by the devs has stated. “Some members of our community raised concerns that a few of our names were needlessly vague and needlessly exoticizing. World’s Edge and Relic take such concerns very seriously, and after much discussion and consultation with experts, we have decided to make some changes.”

The transparency and willingness to listen to this feedback is greatly appreciated by the players, who reacted positively to these changes.

The blog containing this statement also went into more detail about the Variant Civilizations, which are a brand-new feature of the upcoming expansion. As expected, they are not completely new civilizations that stand on their own feet – instead, they take a person, an idea, or a small group from a civilization and then base a faction around that theme.

“Not everything changes between classic and variant. Many basic units and buildings remain the same, as do music and historical speech. Each variant has its own list of changes, which might be a new set of landmarks, new units, revised or wholly new technologies or civilization mechanics, and more. The changes are always significant, however, and remake how the civilization plays. Players of a parent and variant civilization will be making very different choices and pursuing different strategies throughout a match,” the blog stated.

Age of Empires 4: The Sultans Ascend, will be released on November 14, 2023, for PC and Xbox Series X|S.