The classic Age of Empires 2 has gotten a patch on Steam that comes with one very significant quality-of-life update.
There are patches and then there are patches. The one this morning for Age of Empires 2 HD, the HD re-release of Ensemble Studios' iconic medieval real-time strategy from 1999, is a little bit of a doozy.
When you first read through the patch notes, everything seems fairly normal. "Vastly improved overall performance by enabling the renderer to update separately from the World Update." That's nice, you think.
"Large native fps improvements under Windows 10 (In some cases, more than 200% frame rate improvements have been experienced). NOTE: Only applies to people upgrading from Windows 8." That's super handy.
And then there's this one.
"The game will no longer take up 100% CPU, which will reduce heat buildup and energy consumption, which is mostly a problem with laptops."
Yes, you read that correctly: as of this morning, Age of Empires 2 HD will no longer cause your laptop's CPU to think it's rendering the medieval equivalent of Prime95, or some arcane benchmarking software.
Understandably, this means you should be able to enjoy a game of the classic RTS without your knees and/or lap feeling like it's on fire. Which is always nice.
The rest of the patch has plenty of other notable fixes and upgrades. The game launcher now works properly with Windows 10, campaign difficulty settings actually save properly, command inputs should feel a little snappier, text rendering is improved, restoring saved multiplayer games shouldn't be bugged and old saved games and replays shouldn't desync.
On the downside, the ability to play Quick Matches has been disabled — but if you weren't able to enjoy AoE 2 HD before, either because your lap felt like it was on fire or it wasn't working properly with Windows 10, then that's something you can probably live without for a little while.
Age of Empires 2 HD has been available on Steam since early 2013, but you can pick it up for US$20 or as a package with The Forgotten Expansion for US$25. It's got a 93% rating from nearly 16,500 reviews, so you should feel pretty safe about picking it up (if RTS games are you thing, that is).