Age of Empires 4: Which faction is the best?

by Alexandru Poloboc
Alexandru Poloboc
Alexandru Poloboc
News Editor
With an overpowering desire to always get to the bottom of things and uncover the truth, Alex spent most of his time working as a news reporter, anchor,... read more
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  • As we all know by now, the new Age of Empires 4 has a total of eight playable civilizations.
  • Each one is unique and strong in its own way, allowing us to experience multiple stories.
  • Every civilization comes with units and buildings, as well as bonuses that no other faction has.
  • The main question here is which one are you going to pick when you play Age of Empires 4?
age of empires 4

Friends, we have all gathered here to talk about one of the most expected games of 2021, and by that, we are obviously talking about Age of Empires 4.

As you might know, the last mainline Age of Empires game was way back in 2005. Since then, we’ve seen a lot of remasters, re-releases of the original games, which were all pretty good.

But now, the time has come to embark on an entirely new voyage and relive the stories of some of the world’s greatest ancient civilizations.

We’re about to have a look at the playable factions that World’s Edge and Relic Entertainment introduced to their brand new title. Spoiler alert, there are eight of them.

Age of Empires 4 has eight playable civilizations

Yes, you’ve heard correctly, there are a total of eight playable factions within Age of Empires IV, all unique in their own ways, and from totally different parts of the world.

Creators chose these civilizations due to their rich heritage, the historical impact they’ve had, and also to add a bit of flavor and make sure there’s a little bit of everything in the game, to satisfy everyone’s taste.

We’re about to break each of them down individually and see what they look like, and also figure out their strengths and weaknesses. Are you ready to embark on a legendary voyage into the past?

The Rus

As described by the game’s developers, the Rus are ruthless, highly skilled hunters that grow more powerful as they expand to new frontiers through the ages.

In Age of Empires 4, the Rus civilization tells the story of a fledgling empire caught between powerful opponents over the years 882-1552 CE.

Hardened by devastating invasions, political instability, and bitter winters, the Rus people were definitely built for survival.

Masters of hunting, trade, and wooden construction, they would rebuild their realm as their leaders fought to birth a new empire under Moscow.

Why play the Rus?

Playing the Rus means the wilderness is yours to command. You can reap key benefits from your surroundings, particularly in gathering resources to build up a strong economy quickly.

Enemies facing the Rus will find it difficult to disrupt their growth, as they gain steady incomes of Gold from the Hunting Cabin, which acts as a standard mill, and the unique Bounty score when killing Gaia animals.

With the Bounty system, players earn Gold when killing any animal on the map. This contributes to the player’s Bounty total, as it increases, food harvest and Hunting Cabins’ gold rate also increase.

Rus unique units

  • Horse Archers are a unique ranged cavalry unit available in the Castle Age. They are highly mobile and effective against slower melee units.
  • The Streltsy is a high damage, light gunpowder infantry unit with a stronger rate of fire when stationary. They employ a huge axe that is potent against melee attackers.
  • Warrior Monks are a military-minded support unit that improves combat capabilities of nearby units after they attack. They can pick up Relics, convert enemy units, and capture Sacred Sites.

The Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Empire is a civilization that is shaped by a powerful infantry army, made stronger by the support of their most valuable unit, which is the Prelate.

The Holy Roman Empire in Age of Empires 4 spans the years 936-1517 CE, centered in a region that comprises modern Germany, claimed to be the rightful successor to the ancient Roman Empire.

Its emperors controlled central Europe with a stalwart infantry of exuberant Landsknechte and aimed to capture the center of the Christian world itself: Rome.

Why play the Holy Roman Empire?

Well, one of their biggest perks is the fact that, through careful use of the Prelate, players will be able to buff Villagers, speeding up their economic growth.

This is a powerful infantry-based civilization, able to fend off opponents with several options for defensive turtling.

Facing them in battle will require careful consideration, as the Holy Roman Empire can recover quickly from attacks and their Landsknechte’s devastating area-of-effect capability is sure to make advances against them difficult.

Their structures are highly durable and difficult to destroy, further enhanced by upgrades improving their strength.

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Outposts, Towers, and Keeps can garrison Relics for bonus armor and damage, making the Holy Roman Empire a truly impenetrable civilization.

Holy Roman Empire unique units

  • As you would imagine, the Prelate is a support unit that heals and inspires nearby armies, granting them benefits.
  • The Landsknecht is a light infantry unit with a two-handed sword, adept at area-of-effect damage.

The Chinese

Creators describe the Chinese civilization as one with impressive constructions, gunpowder strength, and a dynasty system that provides unique benefits and varied strategies to overcome the opponent.

In Age of Empires 4, the Chinese are a thriving, unique civilization that grows through their dynasty system over the years 907-1644 CE. They are powerful defenders behind formidable fortifications.

The engineering prowess of the Chinese dominated the world for centuries, a trait present in Age of Empires IV. 

You live through history as Chinese culture, strength, and innovations created ripples across Eurasia, growing your empire as you move through vibrant Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties.

Your units speak Mandarin Chinese, a Sinitic language originating in North China.

Why play the Chinese?

At the dawn of their civilization, the Chinese have a head start with additional Villagers. This lays the foundation for a robust economy, fueling the needs of a great, expansive civilization.

City planning is an important growth strategy. A special trait of the Chinese civilization is their dynasty system, which offers several advantages when triggered, like unit bonuses and access to unique buildings.

This gives several routes in strategy and ways to leverage all that the Chinese civilization has to offer.

Also, the military prowess of the Chinese lies in their mighty gunpowder units. They have access to multiple unique gunpowder units, making them a fierce civilization to go up against in battle.

Chinese unique units

  • The Imperial Official is an official produced from the Town Center that collects gold from nearby buildings.
  • Fire Lancer is a cavalry unit from the Yuan Dynasty equipped with a fire lance.
  • Nest of Bees is a powerful siege weapon that fires an immense burst of rocket arrows in an area.

The English

The English are a defensive powerhouse in Age of Empires 4. Their strength is unparalleled, reinforced by the power of their archery units, a firm control over castles and defensive buildings, and a highly dependable food economy that sustains them through the Ages.

Age of Empires 4, introduces the English civilization during the Anglo-Saxon era in Great Britain spanning from 850-1555 CE.

As you progress from the Middle Ages to the Late Renaissance in the 16th century, you bear witness to the story of a civilization that survived the fall of empires, conquerors, and plagues.

The game will have you you build up the English civilization across four eras: the Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman, English Gothic, and Tudor eras.

Each Age has its distinct style from architecture to armor, with populations speaking Old English in the Dark Age and evolving to Early Modern English by the Imperial Age.

Why play the English?

Simple! Because playing as the English in Age IV opens the door to several key advantages, creating an exciting battlefield for resources and victory.

The English have access to cheaper farms compared to other civilizations, giving them a highly dependable source of food to greatly expand upgrades and armies throughout matches.

Also, this faction specializes in their network of castles: Town Centers, Outposts, Towers, and Keeps trigger an alarm when an enemy approaches, prompting nearby units and defensive structures to fire faster for a short period.

Their Keeps can produce all units, allowing for the English defense to reign supreme in a match.

  • The English Villager is the humble unit of the civilization and the key to starting a powerful economy. They have light fighting abilities with a ranged bow attack.
  • Longbowman is an unrivaled Archer unit, making it a powerful foe on the battlefield with their long range and powerful upgrades.
  • English Man-at-Arms is a sturdy infantry unit, available earlier than other civilizations and has an extra armor upgrade.

The Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate civilization is at the forefront of technological innovation. They have a strong focus on research and defense, with an edge in technological advancement over other civilizations.

In the game, the Delhi Sultanate civilization is based on the powerful empire formed from the invasion of the Ghurid Dynasty (originating in Persia) into northern India spanning the years 879-1526 CE.

For 300 years, this empire shaped an independent Indo-Islamic region, adopting technology present in India.

Advancing through the Ages will actually allow us to experience this civilization’s rich and vast history.

With the first Age reflecting the Turkish and Iranian Ghurid Sultanate, playing the Farsi/Persian-speaking Delhi Sultanate civilization brings you through the Mamluk and Khalji Dynasty, Tughlaq Dynasty, and the Sayyid and Lodi Dynasty.

Why play as the Delhi Sultanate?

Strategic decisions in the early Ages of the match are essential for the Delhi Sultanate civilization, which emerges as a dominating force in the late game.

The Delhi Sultanate army can be terrifying to encounter: the core of their army, the War Elephant, is a melee unit of staggering raw strength capable of high damage.

This faction’s specialty lies in research. Not only do they have access to several upgrade options throughout the Ages, but their unique Scholar Research System provides an advantage in research that no other civilization has.

You can research technology with no resource cost but at a greater time investment. To offset this, the Delhi Sultanate uses Scholars, each of which speeds up research.

While biding their time growing their strength through the Ages, the Delhi Sultanate can tap into their defense through foot units’ abilities to construct defensive structures.

Once their military reaches full heights, this proud civilization’s power is a force to be reckoned with.

Delhi Sultanate unique units

  • Scholars are the civilization’s equivalent of the Monk with a unique ability to speed up research and technology upgrades.
  • The mighty War Elephant is a powerful melee unit with high health and damage against units and structures.
  • Not very different from the second one, the Tower War Elephant is a devastating unit with a ranged attack: Two archers mounted in a tower on a War Elephant.

The Mongols

The Mongols are an agile civilization, excelling in hit-and-run military strategies and capable of expanding armies rapidly.

You witness the Mongols through the Ages, spanning from 1000-1500 CE, as a disciplined civilization, recognized for changing history in connecting the East to the West.

In the game, Mongols are known for their unique structure and are at their most powerful when playing to their strengths in tight groups. They speak Mongolian, which is the most widely spoken of the Mongolic languages.

Why pay as the Mongols?

This is described as being one of the best factions for beginners. A fearsome force, one may not meet them in massive throngs, but even in small numbers, their army can outmaneuver enemies with ease.

Their aggressive military production capabilities force the opponent to be on the defensive early.

They are a nomadic civilization with the ability to move their bases. Combined with early access to cavalry units and speed granted from Outposts, the Mongols reign supreme in flanking enemies and retreating quickly before enemies have a chance to catch up.

You can build up your economy with unique buildings, like the stone-mining Ovoo. The Mongols’ need for resources for their army can trigger a dramatic battle for resources as they pursue total domination.

Mongols unique units

  • The Khan is a unique horse archer unit. His Signal Arrow ability supports and strengthens the Mongol army, making him a fearsome foe.
  • Mangudai are the star of the Mongols’ fearsome military, a supreme horse archer that excels at hit-and-run tactics.

The Abbasid Dynasty

The Abbasid Dynasty is a highly adaptive civilization due to its ability to research unique upgrades at the House of Wisdom.

These upgrades impact and alter core game elements and mechanics, providing a unique way to build your empire.

In this game, the Abbasid Dynasty civilization spans the years 750-1517 CE and is based on the Abbasid Caliphate and the Mamluk Sultanate.

The empire was born in modern-day Iraq, but after the Mongols destroyed its capital of Baghdad in 1258, the seat of power moved to Cairo.

You will experience the Golden Age of Islam playing the Abbasid Dynasty. This period saw flourishing technological innovations as the medieval world raced towards the modern era.

This faction ruled the spiritual heart of the Islamic world for nearly 800 years, surviving civil wars, the Crusades, the Mongol invasion, relentless piracy, and rebellions.

Why play as the Abbasid Dynasty?

The Abbasid Dynasty civilization is centered around their House of Wisdom, which provides unique upgrade opportunities and acts as the basis of their Golden Age mechanic.

As buildings are constructed around the House of Wisdom, the tier of their Golden Age increases, bringing with it increases to gather, research, and production rates.

Unique to their civilization, the Abbasid Dynasty receive Camel Archers and Camel Riders, which serve as unique anti-cavalry cavalry units.

This civilization’s unique ability to construct Landmarks and advance through the ages without needing to assign active villagers enables the Abbasid Dynasty to continue gathering resources, construct buildings, or perform other tasks allowing uninterrupted growth.

Abbasid Dynasty unique units

  • Camel Archers is an anti-cavalry cavalry unit that reduces damage from nearby enemy cavalry units. Their expanded attack range and higher damage than average Horse Archers allows them to pick away at enemy cavalry from a safe distance.
  • The Imam is an inspirational community leader that can be created from the Abbasid’s Mosque building.

The French

Known for their cavalry, the French are a fearsome army whose armored knights and charges can tip the tides of battle.

The French civilization in Age of Empires 4 spans the years 840-1559 CE and is based on a medieval France that fought its way from adversity to prosperity.

Overcoming invasions, plagues, and revolt, France emerged as a powerful modern nation with a lot to offer.

Playing the French will take you through the age of chivalry and honorable combat, to the time of Joanne d’Arc and France’s darkest hour, to the formation of a disciplined standing army capable of liberating the nation with the roar of cannon fire.

Why play as the French?

This faction’s strength lies in their formidable army of knights, gunpowder siege weapons, and advantages in trade. French Traders have the unique ability to bring back any resources needed, a valuable trait during a resource shortage.

French cavalry charges can break enemy lines and give bonus damage, useful for hit-and-run tactics. French units also have access to several upgrades, ranging from special health to defense bonuses available only for certain French troops.

They also have a unique Influence system, where units cost less from Archery Ranges and Stables around the Keep. Their Town Center can produce units quicker with each Age, a key advantage in hastening their economy.

French unique units

  • The Royal Knight is the French civilization’s heavily armored knight, with their fearsome charge ability.
  • Arbalétrier are a powerful range unit, who gains a special ability called Pavise, a deployable shield for ranged defense.
  • The Cannon is a mobile gunpowder siege weapon unique to the French. Unlike the Bombard, the Cannon does not need to pack and unpack.

These are the eight civilizations that are playable in Age of Empires IV, with their strengths and all the unique units at their disposal.

Whichever you choose to play is up to you, but we are more than sure that no matter which one you pick, you will have a blast.

We’re not sure yet, but creators could add a couple of new factions along the way, making this awesome game even more entertaining than it already is.

Which civilization will you pick as your first one in Age of Empires 4? Share your opinion with us in the comments section below.