Upcoming strategy game Age of Empires IV will be throwing open the doors of history with a public ‘technical stress test’ planned for this weekend.
As announced in a post on the game’s official blog, the test will run from Friday, September 17 (starting at 10am PT/6pm BST) until Monday, September 20 (ending at 10am PT/6pm BST). Unlike previous beta tests, anyone will be able to participate, and no invites are required.
A stress test differs from a beta window in that it’s designed to see how the game and its servers will hold up at scale, with potentially tens of thousands of players active at once. Publisher Xbox Game Studios says that it is “interested in driving as many people into the Technical Stress Test build as possible … to make sure that our matchmaking, lobbies and additional systems hold strong.”
Accordingly, most of the focus will be on Age of Empires IV’s multiplayer aspects, measuring how well the game handles numerous real players. However, Microsoft notes that players “will have the opportunity to play against AI via the Multiplayer Custom Lobby”.
Mission Zero, which functions as the game’s solo tutorial, will also be available, although the developers “encourage you to play against others participating” as “the more data we get from different match-ups across various servers, the more action our development team will be able to take to prep our systems for the big day.”
The stress test weekend will feature four playable civilisations to experiment with – the English, the Chinese, the Holy Roman Empire and the Abbasid Dynasty – and five different maps.
Interested players will be able to gain access to the stress test through the Xbox Insider Hub app on PC, where the appropriate build will be downloadable under the Age of Empires IV preview tab. Alternatively, it’s possible to request access through the game’s Steam page now.
In other news, development kits for the upcoming Steam Deck handheld are on their way to developers now, with creator Valve hoping to ensure compatibility ahead of the December hardware launch.