So, it’s been about a week since AoE4 was released. I’ve definitely had fun with the game since (which is paramount), but my pervasive feeling of lack of communication and lack of polish persists.
Specifically, it’s clear that virtually nothing has been fixed since the beta and technical stress tests. This was always clear to me given the short time frames, but all the apologists and their pie-in-the-sky dreams about “first day patches” and “4K texture packs” were clearly deeply mistaken about the state of the game.
Of particular concern in the most recent threads is that the Mongols are effectively a broken civ and I’m already seeing custom games and tournaments that are explicitly banning them as a civ due to the TC rush “strategy”. This effectively renders one of the most interesting innovations (i.e. the most unique civ) moot for competitive play.
So, without sounding like I am here just to say “I told ya so”, here are some concrete things that I think need to be prioritized in the very short term (on the order of a few weeks, not months).
- Even the most basic UI issues persist – and I mean truly basic even for non-AAA titles. Clicking in the the fog of war gives no UI indication to the user.
- Queuing commands with shift works, but there is no UI indication to the user what actions they have placed. This boggles the mind.
- Bugs reported back in August continue to persist. As an example, berry bushes sometimes disappear when placing a mill.
- The ever-debated zoom issue persists in my mind as well. Yes, zoom-out was increased ever so slightly, but at the expense of visual clutter via fog and murkiness. Let people zoom out significantly more. If it needs to be restricted for ranked play, whatever, ranked play doesn’t even exist in this game.
- When loading a multiplayer game, player banners are not logically split by team. It’s always bizarre to look at all the banners and try to figure out who is on your team. Just put a line between team 1 and 2.
- Players still can’t choose their color and the default setting isn’t unique player colors – what???
- The chat functionality is one of the most atrocious I’ve seen in a while. It can take up to 5 seconds for a message to deliver.
- The expand/drop-down arrows in the Civ tech tress haven’t even been rotated. I remember a user pointing this out months ago. It’s literally a 90 degree rotation on an existing graphical element to be in line with a basic industry standard.
- No way to patrol move.
- No way to see the individual health of units in the UI card after drag selecting. I don’t need to know that I have 22 Man-at-Arms, I need to know which one of them are damaged so I can micro them away.
On top of these issues (which should be fixable in the short term), there are some other glaring problems:
- Ranked play! Ranked play literally does not exist in a game that is supposed to become an e-sport.
- Map editor. Arguably less important, but I definitely know that many folks are waiting for this feature specifically.
- Readability. This was one of the priorities of this game, but the clashing priority of making the game as playable as possible on as many low-end comps as possible has really made this challenging. I play on 4k ultra graphics and even with dozens of hours in game now, it’s still really difficult to tell military units apart. That rumored 4k texture pack would be a phenomenal idea. Do it for the countless workers I’ve sent into battle thinking that they are spearmen or archers.
- Missed opportunities. There are just soooo many of these. For example, they literally emphasized the ability for players to customize their banners, but then those banners don’t show up on the TC or buildings? What an amazing touch that would be (and actually earn more DLC $$$), but instead I’m just looking at drab blue flags hanging on the TC with cryogenically frozen chickens.
Anyway, I’m generally concerned about the pace of updates/patches/fixes. This game was actually seeing a lot of traction since release (upwards of 65k players at one point on Steam), but it’s gonna leave a damn sour taste in people’s mouths if the next update is just a DLC of a couple more civs for 30 bucks.