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The developers want you to break Age of Empires IV this weekend

After a number of balloted tests, the floodgates will open for a limited-time, unrestricted stress test for Age of Empires 4.

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Age of Empires IV key art
Xbox Game Studios

After a number of balloted tests, the floodgates will open for a limited-time, unrestricted stress test for Age of Empires IV.

Gone are the days when all video game development – and, more importantly, testing – could happen behind closed doors. In the age of online multiplayer, you need to get real players to kick the tyres.

That will usually come in the form of closed betas and invite-only test events, often as pre-order bonuses. (Unpaid labour is a “bonus” for something you paid actual money for? Hmm. That doesn’t sound right.)

And sometimes you need to stress test your application and your infrastructure scaling, which means getting all hands on deck with an unrestricted, all-access open beta.

This weekend, Age of Empires IV is having one of those stress tests.

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“Our goals are different!” A blog post on the Age of Empires website begins.

“This time around we’re focused on scale testing our servers and systems in preparation for the October 28th release date. One reason we are hosting this event over a single weekend is that we are interested in driving as many people into the [Age of Empires IV] Technical Stress Test build as possible during this window to make sure that our matchmaking, lobbies and additional systems hold strong.”

“The Technical Stress Test will not be gated by an invite!” The post continues.

“Previously, we had some requirements that won’t be necessary this time around. The build will be available in the Xbox Insider Hub app (available in the Microsoft Store) or Steam regardless of whether you’re an Age Insider or not. The larger our audience for this Technical Stress Test, the more successful it will be!”

(We must stress that the exclamation marks are their emphasis, not ours.)

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The Age of Empires IV stress test kicks off on Friday, September 17. at 10 am PT / 6 pm BST. It will run through until 10 am PT / 6 pm BST on Monday, September 20.

It’s open to all players via the Xbox Insider Hub or Steam, will understandably focus on multiplayer modes, and will feature four civs – the English, the Chinese, the Holy Roman Empire and the Abbasid Dynasty – and five different maps. There’s also no NDA on the Age of Empires IV stress test, which is neat.

This may well be the last such test before Age of Empires IV releases on October 28, 2021, so if you’re on the fence, it would be a good opportunity to dive in. The devs will thank you for it.


Follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook if you want to know when you are invited to break stuff in future.

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No, not that Tim Horton. That would be weird. I've never even been to Canada. And I'm pretty sure he's dead? This Tim Horton is a freelance writer and lover of indie games. Painfully shy, powerfully awkward, you won't find me on social media.

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