Age of Empires 2 is one of the most influential entries in the real time strategy genre. Combining Civilization-style world building with traditional 4X strategy gameplay, AOE 2’s game mechanics still help it remain popular among gamers to this day, even more so than it’s HD remake.

Taking control of one of several civilizations, players must build villages, gather resources, research technologies, build armies, and crush the other players. Each civilization has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, and advancing your civilization’s age grants it access to new technology. The game contains 5 single player campaigns based on historical events, several multiplayer modes, and a scenario editor that makes it possible to create new levels and even campaigns.

Despite its age, AOE2’s gameplay and community support remains strong even today, with an active modding scene creating unofficial expansions for the game and even holding online tournaments. Age of Empires 2 ranks right up with Starcraft and Command and Conquer as a classic RTS game. It’s too bad Microsoft dissolved Ensemble Studios, they made great releases.