Age of Empires is one of the most well-established franchises in the real-time strategy genre. The series essentially revolutionalized the RTS market thanks to its incredibly fun and innovative gameplay loop. However, that was many decades ago and the series has remained dormant for a number of years. And, while the support for old Age of Empires games has been pretty good with remasters and new campaigns over the past few years, a new entry has been long overdue. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait any longer as the 4th entry into the mainline franchise, Age of Empires 4 is finally out on PC.
Age of Empires 4 is arguably one of the most anticipated games of the year, especially for the fans of the RTS genre on PC. We have all played through the Command and Conquer, Red Alert, and AoE games. However, the waning popularity and sales numbers meant that there wasn’t much that developers could do to freshen up the formula again and reignite the interest. Age of Empires 4 though, seems to have cracked the code. Making an emphatic return to the forefront, Age of Empires brings back the style of AoE 2 but with updated visuals, some incredible campaigns, and a satisfying gameplay loop.
One of the coolest things about Age of Empires campaigns has always been the way it portrays the history and retells it from the players’ perspective. Likewise, Age of Empires 4 turns it up to eleven with carefully curated videos, informational documentary-style features, and narrated campaign missions that unfold during a certain era. In addition to that, the game also brings players to the real-life locations of some of those historical battles and gives important perspectives with some clever AR timeshift that results in an even more immersive experience.
Another thing that goes unnoticed in many RTS games is the sound design. Age of Empires 4 is as good as it gets when it comes to the soundtrack and the voice acting. Seeing languages evolve over centuries during the same campaign from their original roots into a more modern form is incredibly fascinating and just adds that extra bit of flavor that enhances the experience.
In terms of the core gameplay though, you can expect more of the same from Age of Empires 4. It plays like the old games but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. AoE 2 was already, arguably, the pinnacle of RTS gameplay and this game just modernizes that experience. There are plenty of new mechanics and units to choose from as well that add more depth to the game but if you’re looking for something revolutionary in terms of gameplay, you will not find that here.
With that said, Age of Empires 4 is still one of the best games to come out this year and with Xbox Game Pass, the barrier to entry is also the lowest it has ever been. The initial hype levels for the game are also looking good with Age of Empires 4 having the highest number of concurrent players the series has ever seen. Overall, Age of Empires 4 nails everything it strives to achieve. It brings back the nostalgia factor of the old games and revitalizes it with a fresh new look and feel.
Age of Empires 4 Performance Issues:
Age of Empires games from the past have been able to run on practically anything. You could probably even run an old AoE game on a toaster. However, since Microsoft has started to remaster the old games, those requirements have gone up and you can’t quite get away with an underpowered machine anymore. And, with the release of Age of Empires 4, that minimum entry point has only gone up. In addition to that, since it is a new game, Age of Empires 4 doesn’t run super well even on modern powerful hardware, which is a thing that most new games suffer from these days.
Players have reported running into a multitude of issues including strange frame drops and choppy performance during cutscenes, and inconsistent FPS during gameplay as well. These performance issues in Age of Empires 4 also include things like lag, stutters, freezes, low FPS, and even hard crashes at times. And, for anyone going into the game to experience this breath of fresh air, these issues can completely ruin the experience and end any desire to play it again.
Usually, these issues are ironed out over time as the developer pushes out new updates and patches to players. However, since this is a new game, those patches are probably not coming any time soon. Thankfully, all hope is not lost as there are some fixes that the users can apply on their end to temporarily fix some of these issues and hopefully improve performance on Age of Empires 4. So, we have compiled a list of potential fixes for all sorts of performance issues on Age of Empires 4 including low FPS, lag, stutters, freezes, and crashes.
Age of Empires 4 System Requirements:
Before we get into the actual fixes, make sure that your PC is powerful enough to run Age of Empires 4 smoothly. When you look at the official system requirements for the game though, it seems like the game can run on many years old hardware with ease and most people should be able to run it easily. For instance, the minimum requirements don’t even have a discrete GPU and most people with a 4-year-old laptop can run it with ease as well. This is to be expected as most real-time strategy games are not as demanding as other AAA games since the focus is not on graphical prowess.
Having said that, while these specifications do point towards anyone being able to run it, the reality is far from that. In fact, people with modern beefy PCs are even struggling to run the game smoothly at higher settings and have to tone things down in order to have a smooth experience. So, the game obviously requires better optimization. If you’re one of those people at the lower end of the required specification spectrum, you might need to take these official requirements with a pinch of salt and have slightly more powerful machines to achieve the given results.
Minimum System Requirements:
- Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit or Windows 11 64-bit
- CPU: Intel Core i5-6300U or AMD Ryzen 5 2400G
- RAM: 8 GB
- Graphics Card: Intel HD 520 or AMD Radeon RX Vega 11
- DirectX: Version 12
- HDD: 50 GB available space
Recommended System Requirements:
- Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit or Windows 11 64-bit
- CPU: 3.6 GHz 6-core (Intel i5) or AMD Ryzen 5 1600
- RAM: 16 GB
- Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce 970 GPU or AMD Radeon RX 570 GPU with 4GB of VRAM
- DirectX: Version 12
- HDD: 50 GB available space
1. Install Game-Ready Drivers for Age of Empires 4:
Whenever a new game is released, special optimization is required for your graphics card to get the best out of it. This optimization patch is sent out by the GPU manufacturer in the form of a driver update called Game-Ready drivers. This is also the case with Age of Empires 4 as it is a high-profile release. However, since the system requirements also include GPUs that are no longer supported by the manufacturer, you probably will not be able to download any new drivers for those. If you have a newer GPU though, you should definitely download the latest game-ready drivers for your GPU to get the best performance for Age of Empires 4.
Usually, these drivers are downloaded and installed via your GPU update utility automatically but some people prefer to keep those automatic updates off as sometimes those can cause issues rather than fixing them. So, we’d recommend either turning them on in your GPU Driver update utility or downloading the drivers manually via the links given below:
2. Force Age of Empires 4 to run on a Dedicated GPU:
Age of Empires 4 does not require a super-powered PC to run smoothly. So, naturally, a lot of people might be running the game on their laptops. Most gaming laptops with discrete graphics cards also have integrated GPUs in order to save power and improve battery life. the laptop switches between the two cards depending on the task. For example, if you’re just browsing the internet and doing less demanding things, your laptop will revert to the integrated GPU and save battery. And, when you boot up a game, the dedicated GPU will kick in and give you that much-needed performance boost.
While this works most of the time, sometimes your PC can fail to recognize the game and run it on the integrated GPU instead of your actual graphics card. And, since Age of Empires 4 is a less demanding title, you will not be able to instantly tell the difference in performance when you boot in. However, the low FPS and frame drops will soon start to puzzle you and you’ll have a hard time figuring out why the game only runs smoothly at low settings when you have a pretty decent graphics card installed.
Usually, the biggest culprit for this problem is the fact that your PC/laptop simply did not switch to the dedicated GPU. So, you need to make sure that the game is being enforced to use the dedicated GPU whenever you launch into a game like Age of Empires 4. Here’s how to do it:
If you have an NVIDIA Graphics Card in your gaming laptop, follow these steps:
- Right-click any empty space on the desktop and open the NVIDIA Control Panel.
- Select the Manage 3D Options tab from the menu on the left and head into the Program Settings. If you wish to apply this setting to all applications, select Global Settings instead.
- Once you’re in the program settings, look for Age of Empires 4 from the list of applications. If it is not present in the list, you can manually browse for it and add its executable file.
- After you have selected Age of Empires 4 from the list, change the Preferred Graphics Processor option to High-Performance NVIDIA Processor setting and you’re good to go. If you change this setting in the Global Options, this will apply to all other applications as well, which will help with performance but also drain more battery.
If you have an AMD Graphics Card in your gaming laptop, follow these steps:
- Open the AMD Radeon Control Panel and select Graphics.
- For the Powerplay options, set both the battery and plugged in modes to Maximum Performance.
- In 3D Settings, set the Performance mode to Optimal.
- Lastly, on the Switchable Graphics tab, select the High-Performance option for Age of Empires 4.
3. Age of Empires 4 Optimal Graphics Settings:
Age of Empires is not a demanding game by any means but users with powerful PCs are still having issues while trying to run the game smoothly. Usually, turning settings down is a good option for most people in modern games. However, since Age of Empires 4 is such a less demanding game, turning down the settings by too much does not make sense as it doesn’t seem to affect performance much at all unless you have an underpowered machine. Instead, there are some strange performance-related bugs present in the game that hinder performance at certain setting presets, and changing these can instantly boost performance.
In addition to that, the default presets that are applied when you initially launch the game are also pretty hit or miss. So, we have tested Age of Empires 4 on a number of machines and have found the optimal graphics settings that will act as a good starting point for you. These settings do not compromise visual quality too much while also giving the best performance you can get on a decent PC. Just change your settings to these:
- Run the game on Full Screen. Borderless windowed still hinders performance by a lot so unless you’re streaming, full screen is the way to go.
- Set the resolution to 1080p (1440p if you have a powerful PC).
- Keep the Gameplay Resolution Scale at 100.
- Set the Image Quality to Medium.
- Keep the Animation Quality at Medium.
- Change Shadow Quality to Low.
- Alter the Texture Detail to High.
- Set the Geometry to Low.
- Keep the Anti-Aliasing at Low.
- Turn off V-Sync and keep the Framerate Unlimited.
- Set the Movie Quality to 1080p.
Age of Empires 4 is now out on PC via Xbox Game Pass and Steam. You can check it out right here.