As you can probably see, a lot of reviews and forum posts are popping up about changes that have been invented by their respective OOPs, are complaining about random changes actually requested by the community, or are filled by flaming from members of a few different groups that decided that this game should be review bombed due to political reasons, or because they think it’s a waste of time since they prefer AoE2.
So, here is a short summary of actual, concrete pros and cons, as well as a short debunking of the most common made up arguments. Let’s have a short FAQ about the misinformation being distributed as a part of the raids at the moment.
Q: Did the devs actually increase the amount of black people spawning for European civs?
A: No. It’s the same as it was 15 years a go.
Q: Did the devs change the art style?
A: No. The art style is the same, the models are just more detailed. Some people are experiencing weird blurriness that will cause the game to look more foggy and “cartoony” as some people have put it, but there are a few workarounds (or you can refund and wait until they fix it) if that occurs for you.
Q: Did the devs remove the ability to name and customize your own home city?
A: No. This was an invented flaw, based on the fact that you get stock-home cities instead of having to make a separate one if you want to play a faction. You’re able to name your city and explorer, and customize it just as you can in the original release of the game.
Q: Did the devs remove the ability to see units through trees, and see how many home shipments you have available?
A: No. This has to be the most awkward fallacious argument, since the UI elements and unit rendering through trees are there pretty much just as they were with the original release.
Q: I’m seeing some really random reviews complaining about the lack of progression. Why?
A: The “no progression” argument was picked up and hijacked by raiders after (valid) complaints were made by the singleplayer skirmish community about the changes to singleplayer progression. Basically what happened was that they made it so you could play any faction in multiplayer without being handicapped for up to hundreds of games, without grinding first. This was one of the most requested changes, since the existence of the home-city card unlocking mechanic was one of the biggest things that pushed people away from multiplayer when the game first launched. Several good arguments have been made to why the old progression system should be implemented into singleplayer, so we’ll have to hope the devs will add that in the future. The singleplayer community’s arguments are good, and it’s sad that their gripes were hijacked and mangled by raiders and review bombers.
Q: Is this a heavily politicized release, run over by SJWs?
A: There have been some minor changes as well as some clear mistakes from the devs part regarding this topic, but the short answer is no, and this whole topic has been blown out of proportions. The devs basically ordered a short list of things to change from Native American consultants, as well as thought of some changes by themselves. They basically changed a few words in a few text files, and made a few mechanical changes (that were luckily good, as the things that affected game balance were mainly buffs to underpowered things, so the effects of this to multiplayer were mainly positive.) It has to be said, though, there is also a big downside to what they did, in terms of what they didn’t do at the same time. Basically, the changes they made were really lacking, and they didn’t follow through with making all of the changes that should have logically been made according to the principles that were used to justify the changes they made. Several really weird things were left unchanged with the natives, and the Asian civs were left in a really janky state in terms of historical representation and accuracy. Several members of the games Chinese and Indian communities have already been vocal about this, so if you’re interested in what went wrong with the India and China civs, there are plenty of posts around detailing the flaws there.
Regardless of your political stance, the changes don’t really affect the game since the changes being referred to in “OMG THE DEVS ARE SJWs” posts are a few changes to text strings, and if they bothered you there’s been a mod that reverts them since day one.
Q: Is this just a bad game?
A: Some people like it, some people don’t. If you’re seeing pages upon pages of copypasted “AoE2 is the best AoE3 is for retards” threads somewhere, you’ve just seen an ongoing raid. It’s a cringy sight, I know.
Q: Why didn’t they increase the unit cap?
A: Because, unlike other AoE games, III is heavily balanced around population costs and AoE damage, meaning that it becomes completely unbalanced and unplayable with a higher unit cap. It probably would have been nicer to have a setting to have it higher in custom games, but it’s more of a small oversight that could have been nice for a few people, rather than a big flaw or something highly requested that was left out. This release is extremely multiplayer focused, and a higher unit cap setting wasn’t a priority for competitive multiplayer play. If that was something you were looking forward to and won’t buy the game because of this, that’s understandable as well.
Actual pros and cons:
To be fair, let’s go through the cons first:
Some people are experiencing severe game breaking bugs, as well as other visual bugs. Be prepared to wait or refund if you’re experiencing these. These include bugs that stop you from progressing in the campaign, connecting to people or seeing multiplayer lobbies.
No singleplayer skirmish progression, if you’re interested in that.
If you didn’t like AoE3 before, you’ll most likely not like it now, except if the home city unlocking was your only gripe.
The game runs very poorly on some systems, so you’ll have to try your luck with the games graphical performance quirks.
The clan and replay functionalities don’t work properly all the time at the moment.
Chinese voicelines and localization is bad, and in some cases buggy as well.
Several other localizations are buggy too.
We need a balance patch or two to even out some multiplayer quirks.
No public ELO in casual games, so no easy way to filter through casual games based on ELO, but also no ELO sniping either. Some people are really pissed about this, but it also fixed a few large problems with the original release. If this is an issue for you, you’ll need to wait and see if the devs implement something to let high-ELO people avoid low-ELO casual games and vice versa.
As stated earlier, some names have been changed here and there. If this bothers you, there is a mod that will revert the name changes back.
Tons and tons of new content, for both European and Native civs. Also, the Chinese can now use more than one army type. This includes new politicians, a few new mechanics, and an expanded new revolution system.
Dedication to competitive multiplayer, in terms of both gameplay improvements as well as balance changes. One of the new civs is seen as a bit overpowered still and there are a few kinks left here and there, but if the devs development cycle is anything near to AoE2:DE (which everything seems to be pointing to), the game will be patched regularly. If you’d rather wait and see, that’s completely understandable too.
If you’re not one of the unlucky people that have game breaking bugs, the server infrastructure is actually really solid. Cross-continent play is (when not bugging) surprisingly lag free. For example, Europeans can play on the Korean server without practically any gamebreaking lag, which is really nice.
Fluid, competent and modern UI.