No real-time strategy game achieved what Rise of Nations did as well as it did. The crown jewel of defunct developer Big Huge Games, it balanced tech tree strategies that almost matched Civilization for depth, with the immediate rock-paper-scissors unit combat of Age of Empires. The innovative “Conquer the World” Risk-like campaign concept became a staple of many RTS games that followed it. Adding the Thrones and Patriots expansion opened up new strategies with merchant trade routes and government rule options.
The only problem with Rise of Nations is that it came out in 2003 and retail copies have been hard to get since then. Many gamers missed the boat on this great game and the troubles with Big Huge Games, 38 Studios, and the State of Rhode Island made licensing a tricky proposition. During the 2013 liquidation sale of Big Huge Games’ and 38 Studios assets an anonymous buyer purchased the rights to the “Rise of” properties. Either Microsoft was that buyer, or they were able to strike a deal with the bid winner to purchase it from them, because Rise of Nations: Extended Edition is now available for pre-order on Steam.
The extended edition includes the Thrones and Patriots expansion content and adds slightly improved graphics, widescreen monitor support, and Steamworks multiplayer matchmaking.