Age of Empires Online gets release date

RTS MMO out on August 16

Microsoft's confirmed that Age of Empires Online will release worldwide on August 16, via both retail and

The online RTS has had an interesting development stretch, with ex-Ensemble developers (that's the shuttered creator of the Age series) Robot Entertainment kicking off construction, before Supreme Commander house Gas Powered Games picked it up last year.

The free-to-play game will feature two civilizations at launch - the Greeks and Egyptians - and "more than 40 hours of free gameplay", says MS.

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Naturally, players will also be able to shell out real cash money to purchase Premium Civilization upgrades, which unlock all of a civilization's abilities at once, including special abilities on its tech tree known as "star techs".

Premium Civilization users will also have access to exclusive "rare" and "epic" loot tiers, with non-paying users only given access to common and uncommon items.

Here's the content you'll be able to shell out for at launch, in Microsoft's words:

1. Premium Civilization Packs: $19.99 USD
Available at launch: Greeks and Egyptians. Take your free
civilizations to the next level, and unlock a tremendous amount
of gameplay and new features. When you upgrade to a Premium
Civilization Pack, you will get the following:

  • Rare and Epic Gear - Become more powerful with upgraded
    gear and unique designs that stand out in battle.
  • Advisors - In the Advisor Hall, you can unlock Civilization
    Power and Unique Units like Armored Elephants.
  • Tech Tree - Experience the full tech tree with fantastic end
    game "Star Techs." Generate resources from your market,
    have your troops bandage themselves, or make your people
    immune to conversion in battle.
  • Sparta Player vs. Player - Upgrade to even more PVP options
    including setting the gameplay parameters and inviting
    your friends to play against you. Demonstrate your ability
    by playing ranked games where your glory is recorded
    on Leaderboards so you can compare to the best in the
    game, or just your own friends. Plus, match make using
    TrueSkill so you'll always get a competitive game!
  • Additional Inventory Slots - More than double your
    inventory space.
  • More Workshops - Drastically improve your capital's
    production with more workshops to create all of the
    materials you need for crafting.
  • Crafting Halls - Learn unit enhancements from additional
    Crafting Halls and use them to your advantage in the game.
  • Empire Points - Spend Empire Points on the best loot in
    the game.
  • In-Game Stores - Earn in-game currency from the stores
    in your Capital City.

2. Pro Civilization Packs: $19.99 USD
Coming Soon! "Age of Empires Online" will also offer
additional civilizations at a "pro" level, which will provide
all of the upgrades of a Premium Civilization, and players
can jump right into the action starting at level 20.

3. Booster Packs: $9.99 USD
Expand your play options and get the features you like
the most including new storylines and game modes.

Available at launch:

  • Defense of Crete Booster which challenges you to defend
    against waves of invaders on the island of Crete. Team up
    with a friend to battler the incoming horde, and earn new
    rewards and gear when you succeed!

4. Empire Extras: $4.99 USD
Acquire new items and historically themed architectural
pieces for the ultimate level of customization for your
Capital City.

Available at launch:

  • Bountiful Bushes: Beautiful Egyptian themed shrubbery
    (Available for Egyptians)
  • Ornate Ornaments: Amazing Egyptian themed statues
    and decorations (Available for Egyptians)
  • Glorious Gardening: Greek themed bushes and fountains
    (Available for Greeks)
  • Startling Statuary: Greek themed statues (Available for
    Coming Soon! A robust calendar of premium content is on
    the way which includes two additional Civilizations and
    Booster Pack.

The Greek Starter Pack is also confirmed for US retail, and will gift the following for $19.99:

  • The Premium Greek Civilization which unlocks the
    power of Rare and Epic items,Advisors to enhance
    your civilization, the Player vs. Player Arena,awesome
    Technologies, and much more!
  • Windy's Wild Widgets Store to give your civilization
    an edge with the ability to buy and sell special items
    (available exclusively in retail)
  • Hotkey quick reference card.
  • Limited-edition poster and Advisor cards.
  • Instructions to download the free-to-play experience.