This is a simple guide for those who are new to the world of Age of Empires Online.
Downloading the game
You can download the game through steam here or through games for Windows live. Age of Empires Online is completely free to play as of the summer update. There is a common bug when downloading the game where you are asked for a product key. There is a work around for it here.
Choosing your Civilization
After creating your account and logging in, you will be given the option to create a city for a civilization. Greek, Egyptian and Celtic are free and can be created immediately whilst Babylonian, Norse and Persian require premium purchase with Empire Points (EP). You will be asked to name your city (which can be changed later on for a fee of 100 EP). It is recommended to purchase at least one premium civilization to speed up the earning of EP.
Many new players to Age of Empires Online will skip the tutorial as they consider themselves not new, having played RTS of some kind before. It is highly recommended you spend the few minutes to play the tutorial because Age of Empires Online is often confusing at the beginning. Quests are started through the map icon on the bottom left of the mini-map, or the default hotkey "L".
Players will earn experience and coin (different from gold) as well as chests (which you can open for various rewards) from completing quests. Experience will allow players to level up and grant access to more quests and gear, while coin will allow you to purchase items from NPCs and players. Each time you level up, you will be awarded Empire Points, the amount depending on the level (so you earn more EP leveling from 39 to 40 than from 1 to 2). If you experience trouble with quests, you can watch the walkthrough videos here.
After reaching level 40, you will be asked to join an Alliance. Doing certain quests will earn you Alliance Points (AP) which will be converted to EP daily, weekly and monthly. For those planning to earn large amounts of AP, you earn more EP by joining alliances with the highest bonus % EP (the bonus can give you more than the maximum EP), while those wishing to earn EP with less effort should join the most popular server.
Those seeking PvP should join the Marathon server and join the PvP Chat Channel. The Arena is awarded at level 3 and allows Champion Mode to be played for free while Sparta requires a premium civilisation.