Let's talk about the elephant in the room. Age of Empires 3 Definitive Edition.
I will try to keep it as least controversial as possible (this is for you Jutlander)
This is a modding forum, and for us modders and mod players, this news brings more bad things with it than it brings good things.
- All 3 games, Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition, Age of Empires 3 Definitive Edition and Age of Empires 4 will be Windows Store exclusives for Windows 10. There are currently no info or news of the games ever making it on Steam. And it will probably never happen, as Microsoft have stated, during the reveal of Age of Empires Definitive Edition, that they believe competition is healthy when asked why AoE DE is not on Steam.
- Windows Store has no modding support whatsoever. What will this mean for the new AoE3 version is unknown, but it is certainly not a good sign.
- Relic Entertainment is only working on Age of Empires 4, they have nothing to do with the Definitive Editions, as some people have thought. The Forgotten team will most likely be the one working on them, with help from Skybox Labs and maybe, if we're lucky, those original Ensemble devs we heard were hired to work with them on AoE DE.
We do not know a lot of things, most importantly what will the new version contain? Balance changes and some bugs fixes are the best guess, but what, if anything else?
For Age of Empires 1, Definitive Edition means a complete visual overhaul, balance changes and some modern features. For AoE2 and AoE3, we have no idea. But what we can do is filter out what will most likely not happen and speculate on what could happen.
They will probably not upgrade the models of every unit, building and prop in the entire game... Textures are more feasible, but I again think they will not do that. Shaders, shadows? AoE3 already has all of that but I guess they could be improved. But if they are improved, then what about performance?
What I'd like to see are some serious performance improvements. AoE3 will stutter and lag even on the most powerful, modern systems, because of the old game code (and even more so in mods with higher resolution textures and higher poly models). Unlike something like Age of Empires Online, which is made on the same engine as AoE3, but updated and modernized.
A new expansion? Maybe. Africa is the most likely candidate, but because it was already featured fairly recently in an AoE2 expansion, and because even with this re-release AoE3 DE will still not have more players than AoE2 (especially without Steam), a new expansion is not that likely unless the game sells exceptionally well.
And even if there will be new content, there is a lot of doubt to be had about how it will turn out. If we look at Age of Mythology Extended Edition, we will see why that is. We will see a modern re-release with reviews worse than the original version from 2003, with new content breaking the game, bugging it, creating performance and connection problems (the horrible graphical issue with texture degradation, which makes it look worse than in 2003) and a game abandoned in this horrible state.
But what about mods? Can we port our mods to AoE3 DE? If it will go similar to how AoM EE went (without all the problems, hopefully), then probably yes. But a simple internal change to the "bar" files, for example, could stop all our work in its tracks (AoM and AoE3 are also built on the same engine, but have differently formatted "bar" files which cannot be opened with the same tools).
And without official modding support on Windows Store, there is again not much hope for more modding. The best thing we can hope for is the same amount of modding being supported, and not less.
Games have been modded without official support before, yes, but ideally a Steam re-release could have offered actual support like AoE2, AoM and even RoN got in the form of Steam Workshop. Ideally.
Apparently Rise of Nations Extended Edition will also be released on Windows Store, but this is the same version as the one on Steam, nothing new. This only goes further to show that Microsoft is committed to this and wants to attract more people to Windows Store.
No, RoN being released on Windows Store while also being on Steam does not mean the DE versions will be released on Steam, it only happened because RoN (and the others) was released on Steam before all of this, but now Microsoft wants all their RTS games on their store.
I want to be wrong, please prove me wrong.
People will say that my view on all of this is too negative but I only want everything to be the best version it can possibly be. I want this for AoE3, but I don't know if I will get it from Definitive Edition.