Microsoft Studios have detailed their latest patch for Age of Empires Online (PC). Here's the rundown of the new modes, fixes, changes, and additions:

Champion Mode!

Champion mode has arrived for Ranked PvP and the Arena! This is a major update to the Age of Empires Online PvP experience. It is our intent to provide a level playing field option so players can choose when they want to test their skills versus friends and others.
Key Features
• This is available at no cost to Premium players.
• In Champion Mode:
o Gear stats are ignored, but your units will still be able to show off the cool-looking gear you are sporting. Advisor bonuses are also not active.
o All units and technologies are fully unlocked, independent of player level and what you've unlocked via the tech tree from playing the campaign. Only some Star Techs are active. See below for more details.
• For Sparta PvP, Ranked now exclusively uses Champion Mode, and it's available to players from level 1 on.
• For the Arena, premium civilization owners can optionally host matches in Champion Mode.
o Players who want to test Champion Mode before playing Ranked matches can use the arena to test their strategies with their friends.
o Free-to-play players can join games with premium players and try out this new mode.

4 Player Free-For-All!
Sparta PvP now supports standard (unranked) 4-player free-for-all (FFA) matches.
Tutorial Skipping
For players starting a new city with any non-pro civilization, we've added the option to skip the tutorial portions of the early game. When used, players will begin at level 3, with some tech already active, a tech point or two able to be spent, and ten of the first quests already completed. Novice Gear that would normally be given to the player during these quests will be given as soon as they build their Gear Hall.
Co-op Quest Sharing
If you are eligible for a quest in Co-op and don't have it in your quest log, you will now auto-accept the quest so it can be turned in for rewards. We are working hard to continue to add features that boost the Co-op experience, and we welcome and appreciate feedback.

General Updates
• Sparta, Crete, Cyprus, and Tarsos are now accessible right out the gate for all players. This was done for players who are familiar with the game and would like to jump immediately into PvP, the Defense of Crete, or any content that has them interested.
• Demo quests in Sparta, Crete, Cyprus, and Tarsos are now available without prerequisites as soon as players arrive in the region.
• Free-to-play players can now add rare and epic recipes to Crafting Halls and Workshops, but you still cannot craft the items. So now, if you plan to upgrade to a premium civilization at some point down the road, you don't need to hang onto the recipes in your inventory or juggle them in mail.
• Fixed an issue where enabling Elite Mode would prevent players from launching the quest.
• Fixed Transport AI calculations made during attack planning.
• Fixed an issue in which deployable units stopping short before attack mixed groups.
• Fixed Gastraphetes animations.
• Fixed Elephant attack effects.


• Standard PvP is now used to describe unranked PvP with gear, advisors, and your own tech points.
• The UI for the Spartan Arena has been revised to allow Champion Mode and 4-player FFA.
• The Arena is now buildable by all players, although launching Arena PvP is still restricted to premium and pro civilization owners. The UI can also be opened without being in a party, but you'll still need to be in a party to launch a match.
• Fixed some PvP-related issues that resulted in both players being able to register a win in a 1v1 match, and added tracking for repetitive occurrences.
• Fixed some bugs with user interactivity following a 2v2 matchmaking session.
• Fixed an issue in which 2v2 matching would take longer than normal because of connection issues.
• Fixed some out-of-synch errors in very specific cases (related to being different civs).
• Fixed an issue in which players were unable to use their units after launching into a 2v2 PvP match when one player failed to join.
• Fixed an issue in which Arena matches failed to launch after four players complete a 2v2 PvP match.


• The matchmaking UI now brings the Chat Window into focus, so you can chat while matchmaking. And the crowd goes wild! Also tidied up the matching UI a bit.
• Changed the item hover to display what unit uses the item, generated from your current civilization. Units that you have unlocked are shown in white, while units which are not are shown in gray. Items that are unusable by your civilization show up as red in your inventory and will no longer bring up the Gear Hall when right-clicked.
• The width of the Gear Hall has been expanded to support future gear needs. Okay, it's for the Celts. Also fixed some dead spots in scrolling that were causing some weirdness when placing items.
• Increased stack sizes of materials. Tier 1 stacks are now 1000, Tier 2 stacks are 500, Tier 3 stacks are 250, and Tier 4 stacks are 100.
• Improved messaging for disconnects and trading.
• Fixes to the building placement manager.
• Pre-game commands are now queued for game launch rather than discarded.
• Fixed an issue so that gameplay tips now show up in the correct language on load screens.
• Fixed the "Reply to Whisper" hotkey.
• Fixed an issue so that the trade UI now closes properly if the other player has logged out of Games for Windows Live.
• The Gear Hall now consistently displays four slots for Persia.


• There were some general rendering improvements that should increase video performance on most machines.
• Added missing Intel HD device ID to the device Config list so that the game will now correctly choose appropriate hardware settings when running on Intel HD chips.
• Fixed a missing technique for multiblend terrain rendering while running in shader model 2.0 configuration.
• Fixed Alt + Tab/Minimize fog of war bugs.
• Disabled window/full-screen toggles during loading to prevent device reset bugs.
• Fixed the borked shadow for the animating "ship progress loading" icon because it caused some people here to literally go mad. Literally. Mad.


• Minor revisions to loot drop chances.
• Reduced Material cost of crafting common consumables.
• Removed Material costs of core blueprints, such as Tier 1 Workshops and 8-slot Warehouses.

Quest Fixes

• "Breaking Eggs to Make an Omelet"
o Enemy Rams should no longer spawn around the Co-op ally Town Centers.
• The following quests have been revised in full to become a new mini-game experience:
o “Trade for Delphi Limestone”
o “Trade for Giza Limestone”
o “Trade for Mosaic Tile”
• In addition to the materials given in the past, these quests will now reward the player with XP and currency that scales up as players level.
• Quests in the 4-to-10 level range have been modified to reward players with their choice of "Freelancer's Gear"
o In all cases, there is now a mix of rare and uncommon choices.
o Some choices are repeated for different quests.
o Several repeatable quests now include these items as a choice instead of a second treasure chest.
• The quest ““Have Ambassador, Will Travel” will no longer be offered to players. It has proven to just be one extra step in unlocking new content that was not needed.
• The quest “Crafter's Calling” is now made available when players reach level 6 (it is no longer tied to any pre-req quests).
• The quest “I'd Like an Advisor with That Hall” is now available when players reach level 8 (it is no longer tied to any pre-req quests).

Defense of Crete Updates

• Defense of Crete now uses an automatic unit unlock system. No matter what level you are, you will have access to all four Ages and all of the units that are normally unlocked from the Tech Tree.
• Legendary Chests have been added to the quest, “The Elite Meet in Crete.”
• We continue to review the quality of rewards with this booster. While no changes are specifically planned for this patch, we will be paying close attention to new feedback after the unit unlock change described above.

Units and Star Techs for Champion Mode
Champion mode is here! As a result, we’ve made some balance changes specifically for Champion mode.

Star Techs

All Star Techs are enabled in Champion mode with the following exceptions:
• Economy (1st pane)
o Removed all Star Techs except:
o Villager and Storehouse Star Techs are active.
o Extra starting resources from Gold and Wood Star Techs are active (but the conservation elements of those Star Techs are removed, where applicable).
• Military (2nd pane)
o Removed Siege unit Star Techs.
o Removed Greek Apollo’s Grace Star Tech (Ranged unit movement speed bonus).
o Slingers are no longer affected by Egyptian Priestess of Ra’s Speed Increase (Barracks units movement speed bonus).
• Utility (3rd pane)
o Removed all Star Techs.

Shared Units

• Increased all units’ movement speed by 5% (to account for missing movement speed gear).
• All Infantry units, Siege armor increased to 30% from 0%, except for Greek Infantry (see Greek units and known issues).
• All Cavalry units, Siege armor increased to 50% from 0%, except for the Hippikon, whose Siege armor increased to 50% from 30%.
• Battering Rams and Siege Tower
o Infantry and Cavalry armor increased to 30% from 0%.
o Rams and Siege Towers are no longer snared.
• Ballista and Catapult
o Increased population count to 5 from 4.
o Decreased bonus damage against Buildings to +300% from +350%.
• Palintonons
o Decreased damage to 86 from 96.
o Decreased bonus damage against Buildings to +150% from +200%.
• Ballista/Catapult/Mangonel Triremes
o Decreased bonus damage against Buildings to +300% from +350%.
• Caravans
o Decreased health to 300 from 500.
• Fishing Boats
o Decreased damage to 8 from 16.

Greek Units

• Hoplite
o Increased Siege armor to 50% from 20%.
• Spearmen and Hypaspists
o Increased Siege armor to 50% from 0% (see known issues).
• Gastraphetes
o Decreased movement speed to 4.5 from 6.
• Hippikon
o Increased cost to 110f/70g from 100f/65g.
o Increased Siege armor to 50% from 30%.

Egyptian Units

• Axeman
o Decreased training time to 10 from 11 seconds.
• Slinger
o Increased training time to 11 from 10 seconds.
• Elephant Archer
o Increased population count to 5 from 4.

Persian Units

• Sparabara
o Changed Shield Wall tech so that it still increases Sparabara Siege armor to 75%.
• War Wagon
o Increased population count to 5 from 4.

Unit Adjustments

• Galley
o Decreased cost to 150w/50g from 200w/50g.
o Increased damage to 50 from 45.
• Ram Ship
o Decreased health to 900 from 1000.
o Decreased bonus damage against Ships to +150% from 200%.
o Decreased bonus damage against Buildings to +150% from +250%.
o Decreased movement speed to 8 from 10.

Known Issues

• Hypaspist and Greek spearmen should have 30% Siege armor, not 50%. This will be corrected in an upcoming build.
Age of Empires Online (PC) is free to download off the Games for Windows Live marketplace with various premium DLC packs to expand your adventure.
Credit for this story goes to xPut Name Herex