Ranked and Tourney System.
There is now a ranked system in addition to elo, like the pr system in aoe3 legacy, or the bronze-master systems of league of legends and StarCraft. There is now a casual unranked system as well, just like pr in aoe3 legacy. These ranks are regional, not international and cannot be transferred.
There are 5 ranked seasons in a year, each lasting 6-8 weeks. Major meta changing patches reserved for downtime between ranked seasons. Reaching a certain rank during a season confers rewards and titles, as well as exclusive unit skins and 1v1 tournament points.
2 regular 1v1 regional tournaments throughout the year with a focus on 1v1 matches, with exclusive rewards and 1v1 tourney points up for grabs. Entry and seeding based on 1v1 tourney points.
Clan system expanded, with clan wide messages and announcements and a more customizable clan page. There are now dedicated group lfg and lfm chats and starting one with your friends is easier than ever. clan admins can now enter teams into regular regional clan tournaments for chances of rewards and achievements and team tourney points towards the biyearly super clan tournaments.
New biyearly super clan tournaments are hosted for the chance of exclusive rewards and team tourney points for the winning team, as well as in game recognition and special cosmetics representing the winning clan. Seeding and entry based on team tournament points.
World championships at the end of every year for 1v1 and team match matches, with seeding based on team and 1v1 tourney points accumulated over the year. players with both adequate 1v1 and team tourney points can participate in both. Major rewards for placing high, even greater for winning.
Multiplayer and Interface.
Main menu interface allows players to que up for a multiplayer game straight away. Under the multiplayer button there are now 3 dots you can checkmark: quickplay 1v1, quick play team and quickplay unranked. Can check one or all of them. While playing single player you can also initiate matchmaking from the menu button by checking these as well. These quickplay options use favorite settings, game modes, maps and civs if set beforehand. You are no longer forced to wait in lobby or watch a matchmaking screen while being matchmade and can continue playing single player the scenario editor. Instead, matchmaking will be inconspicuously shown on the upper right of the screen with # of players matched/# of players needed and game mode chosen. Once a game is found, if in single player game will quick save and send you into the game/lobby room, then return you to your save after the match is over.
There are now full profile pages that show match history, rank graph timelines, achievements, tourney points and stats such as winrates, favorite civs and units, and average idle time. You can view other people’s profiles unless set to private.
Patch notes are shown in the multiplayer page, along with total players online, global/clan chats, tournament streams and dev blogs. Quick play, lobbies and setup matchmaking are prominent as well.
Lobby browser remembers your settings, and you can choose what lobbies are shown to you in detail, such as scenarios only, or ffa treaties. You can also set your favorites for quickplay, favorites can be multiple civs, colors and maps, with one chosen randomly for you.
You can have several tabs open for separate private/group/clan messages, which saves message history. Can also link pictures and twitch/youtube videos in them. you can view them even while in a lobby or being matchmade.
You are free to look around while waiting in a lobby, when lobby is full you get a popup asking if you want to return to lobby. Host can also initiate a popup every few minutes to call players back into lobby.
Modded lobbies are now clearly designated and show which mods are enabled. Joining a lobby that uses mods now downloads that while entering lobby after a confirmation prompt, now gives a time estimate for download completion. If you are the host, you can now choose what data and ai packs the game will run.
Ui, sound, ai, and certain graphics mods can be used in ranked matches. Others are automatically disabled upon entering a ranked match. You can choose what sound and graphic packs to enable while in lobby. You can also choose what unit skins earned to enable.
Comes with built in twitch/youtube integration. Replays fully support scanning and rewind, just like in other games such as StarCraft and league of legends. Replays are now easily sharable in game and viewable from players profile pages match history tab.
You can spectate a friend or clanmates game or start whispering to them by simply right clicking their username in the friends list. there is now voice chat with clanmates and friends.
You can customize player colors extensively in the menu option and set a color just for yourself, like aoe3 de. These are only shown to yourself. You can also turn off censorship after passing an age check.
The Online Experience and Maps/Vision.
Oos and cheat units in ranked now only kick the offending player and create an automatic log/ticket for review. You can no longer oos out of a loss or crash the game.
If a teammate leaves, they have 3 minutes to reconnect and will be shown that option if they enter the multiplayer menu. Players who leave or resign can have their units be controlled, and after 3 minutes will have their resources redistributed among remaining players.
You can now mute and add friends in game as well as in lobby, and message other players while ingame. You can also turn off taunts for everyone or a specific player.
Maps and opponent civs are now hidden, you will have to explore to find out. Quitting after a match has been found will result in a loss, even if the game itself has not started. Enemy team scores and current age are also hidden. Minimap is now centered on your town center and expands as you explore the map, just like in civilization. There is no updated vision of the fog of war, even for gaia units. You only see where the gaia units used to be.
Scores are now 1 point per 100 resources on the field, in production and banked up. The points military upgrades give now depend on the unit benefiting from them. a 20% increase in swordsman damage is a 10% increase to the points swordsmen contribute from being on the field/being produced. auras also effect score depending on units being benefited. Economic and age upgrades as well as walls, heroes and intangibles no longer affect score. Smaller more meaningful numbers Is the goal. opponent scores no longer revealed, just you and your teams.
Economic upgrades would show up as resources banked and active on the field if they are being used effectively, and age upgrades would lead stronger military and economic upgrades, meaning having them count towards score is redundant and misleading.
Modding, Sounds and Visuals.
Make an official grim and realistic graphics mod, accessible if you pass an age check. Its fine if the main game is geared towards children but allow older players the option of choosing a more down to earth graphics style with highly detailed models, realistic colors, corpses, blood, and death animations.
Give players the ability to resize arrows, arrow trails and weapons in the settings menu, and change the color and size of arrow trails to make them more or less noticeable.
Siege units should have big impact, like cannons in aoe3 or mangonels in aoe2. Ragdoll physics should make a return, if cannons do not send infantry and cavalry flying it would be disappointing. If ragdolls would raise the age rating past what you are comfortable with, make an official ragdoll mod.
Ship destruction and buildings collapsing should also be similar to aoe3. The music that plays while sieging a town center, and the chunks that go flying off as cannonballs slam into it, the screams you can hear in the background as flames erupt, the cheers from your troops once it starts collapsing. We paid for a spectacle, so why not show players a magnificent view.
Civ music should start out gentle and sweet then become full of wanderlust and optimism. As you advance in age it should increase in intensity, grand and boastful, brimming with potential as if ready to burst, until you reach the final age where it opens up and soars.
Civ specific battle and victory music should also be on point. Units celebrating after a victory like in age 3 brings life into the game, with the music varying depending on the size and age of the battle. Losing a battle should also result in a somber piece, that gradually changes into a more hopeful and optimistic tune.
There should also be map civ specific tunes, such as snow, tropical island or desert that is added to the mix.
After finishing a match, the main menu music should be a unique variant of the civ theme of the age you left it at combined with the civs battle victory theme with a fantastic movie reel of the civ in the background. When you hear that tune play it should leave you pumped and ready for another match with the civ.
Atmospheric voice lines from units depending on the weather, as well as contextual situations such as nearby units joining short hymns and chanting when monks are near, or a built-up town near a market have the sounds of sales and money changing hands.
The theme song for the main game should awesome. While aoe2 and aoe3 had an alright main theme, it doesn’t compare to the civ series, which had themes like baba yetu, brave new world and Sogno di Volare. Clearly there’s room to step up, impress us!
Mod tools should be available even to xbox game pass users, and the game pass version should allow data file manipulation just like the steam version. The scenario editor should be functional with a comprehensive map design toolset and allow creation of custom units inside it by combining models/animations/sounds and adding in stats and texts.
As many game variables as possible should be un hardcoded for better mod support, such as population limits. You should now be able to access a version of the debugger through the tools section, to allow debugging and logging of random map and ai scripts. With it enabled you can now do observer only games where you spectate an ai and its process in Realtime and be able to switch between them and manipulate their actions. Easily accessible data and tech files readable with plain text should be available and reloaded on game restart, to allow quick prototyping and testing before packing it in a more compact container for mod publishing.
Graphic and texture mods should be easy and compatible with files from open source tools to open up modding to a larger population.
Ease of Use.
Select/move all idle military button replaces select all military button by default, can be changed in settings. Dedicated hotkey added for select all idle military.
Flare button is now separated into 2 buttons, attack flare and warning flare.
When selecting multiple villagers and queuing multiple buildings, default behavior now splits a villager towards the newly queued building. If more buildings are queued then there are villagers, will automatically que the villagers to the additional buildings when they finish building the earliest queued buildings, rather than re task all villagers to the most newly queued building. Can be changed back in the settings menu.
When multiple buildings selected to que a unit, now adds units to the que evenly between buildings based on train time with a focus on the train block closest to completion (if block training exists). Shift queuing now fills the train block that is closest to being finished before going to the next fastest, only when there are no more empty blocks does shift clicking start a new block.
If selecting more villagers than the valid number of builders, the remaining villagers will wait for a valid command. Buildings which can task multiple villagers have their maximum builders increased to match. When tasking more villagers than the maximum to a farm equivalent, and there is an unfilled farm within the area, villagers will attempt to fill out the nearby farms rather than idle at the selected farm.
right clicking unit icons now attempts to auto train such units until right clicked again. Will que up one unit, and when train block is near complete will complete the remaining block if resources and pop allow. Can right click multiple units and will que in the order clicked.
Like in starcraft, you now receive voice notifications when floating resources, don’t have enough resources or housing, not building villagers, have villagers idle or when victory timers are close. Voice notifications also have different voice lines and minimap flares for when your villagers, buildings or military are under attack.
The greatest harm an rts tutorial can do is teach reliance on clicking buttons over hotkeys, there are so many potentially great players out there that are ruined by the game not teaching them how to more quickly and conveniently control their units and economy. if players came out of tutorials with a habit of using hotkeys and shift queuing tasks over manually clicking, the average level of play would be much higher, and people would enjoy the game a lot more. Finding and clicking buttons is not easier than hotkeys, it is a bad habit taught by bad lessons. So let’s replace it with something much better instead. And with all icons showing their hotkey by default, it means less time looking at hotkey menus and more time spent playing.
Game starts with town center binded to hotkey 1 as default behavior, with new town centers also added to it, can be changed in settings. There is now an art of war dedicated to hotkey management, this is one of the first new players should play; all arts of war now have a focus on hotkeys and shift clicking from the very first one. Hotkeys on unit/building icons shown by default.
Also like in starcraft, Hotkeys and idle banners are now placed near the bottom middle of the ui. There is 0 reason for anything in-game ui related to be near the top of the screen.
Attack Move and priority much improved like in starcraft, units prioritize best target in range when scanning for targets. That means if a knight is in melee range of an archer, a cannon, and a pikeman, it will target the cannon first.
Monk healing/conversion should be context based and automated. Attack move with army? They convert instead of healing if an enemy unit within range exceeds the resource value of the unit they are healing. Monks should be able to heal units in combat.
Post-game There is now a resource effectiveness score which is resources spent vs resources destroyed in the military tab. You can now investigate a player’s military more in-depth rather than just the most popular units. Unit type with most kills/damage dealt also shown.
If there is hilltop advantage, let there be a green or red percent by the mouse pointer showing the damage gained/lost when hovering over an enemy unit to attack. Arrow trails modified to further show such advantages.
Gameplay and UI.
Allow players to pick population limits, visibility, and resource density in the settings menu. Allow players to play and share the same civ as a single entity. Lan is actually lan and is completely offline with 0 server reliance. Toggle censorship, toggle emotes, toggle taunts, and a customizable ui editor lets you place ui elements however you want and change opacity/color/civ themes. A robust save and replay function that will download data sets for out of date replays just like in starcraft. And fantastical, mind blowing cheat units.
Clearly show all unit stats, tags and bonuses on the stat screen, not cryptic words like “high” or “fast”. Unit speeds shown in the ui should be based on an integer scale of 1-24 instead of floating points. Players should quickly and easily deduce the difference 4 speed from 6, rather than .8 to 1.2. under the hood engine code can continue using stuff like .71 and .96 move speed, just translate it for us once we get in game. range should also only ever be an integer.
Please do not use the aoe2 counter system, it is the most cryptic and confusing counter system ive seen in an rts, and ive played warcraft 3 and dow. The counter system of aoe3 with clear (and visible!) bonuses against broad unit tags and a single % reduction armor type makes a far better role model. % bonus/malus and % based hp and damage upgrades are also superior to flat additions/reductions for players to easily calculate/understand, and ensure units remain competitive regardless of which age they are used.
Clear and visible unit tags with clear counters, none of this mameluke cav-archer/archer tag nonsense. Clear bonus icons(with descriptions!) to tell what unit types this unit deals bonus damage towards. Clear differentiation between ranged and melee damage, each with their own separate icon.
No building armor! If a unit says it deals 15 seige damage, it should deal just that amount. Certain units and siege weapons should instead deal bonus damage vs high hp defenses and fortifications, with the bonus clearly labeled and spelled out on their stat page.
Clearly show the number of projectiles or attacks a unit or ability deals. Each attack should deal the same amount of damage, none of this hidden secondary projectile damage nonsense in aoe2. Aoe size and damage cap should also be clearly shown. Unit attack speed/r.o.f. should also never be hidden. Special unit passive abilities such as snare or auras should be shown as an icon on the units stat page, similar to starcraft.
Upgrades now show exactly what they change about the unit, rather than just say it’s a stronger version of the unit. now gives details on what stats are changed, and any other changes such as visual or new abilities as well.
Upgrades now tell you exactly how long it takes research with a small clock picture and number of seconds on the upper corner of the upgrade icon by research costs. Units also show how long it takes to train. When units and upgrades are in que/production, it now shows the que in the ui, similar to aoe3, where they can be clicked to refocus on them and cancel them. these now also show the number of seconds away from completion in the ui.
Unit tooltips are now much more descriptive just like in aoe3 instead of aoe2, doing more than just telling you what the unit name is. It now describes the unit, for example: “throwing axeman, sturdy infantry unit that deals moderate melee damage at a short range. Good against pikes, countered by archers”. You can also now see the unit’s history tab in-game, just like in aoe3.
Remove accuracy and unit attack delay. Units should be responsive and behave in a predictable manner, the less rng the games combat mechanics has the better.
No more eagle warrior/coyote runner tags. These tags are some of the biggest and most confusing mistakes of the franchise, just give them cavalry tags and make the lives of your players easier. “eagle warrior, agile melee unit that acts as cavalry. Good against archers and siege units, countered by pikes.” There, done, less is better in this case and nothing of value was lost.
beneficial auras now affect the unit giving the aura however auras no longer stack. Auras now have an icon on the units stat page that tells you exactly what it does.
In the end I do not mind what you use if it makes sense and I can tell at a glance what a unit does through its stat page, there are no hidden bonuses and modifiers, and I can comprehend how a unit will perform against another without having to read a guide on how the stats interact with each other (aoe2 anti-bonus armor?). if you can’t pull a random stranger from the streets, show him a unit stat page and have understand what the unit does and how it interacts with another unit off that alone, it’s not good enough. Meanwhile I can take my 9-year-old brother, hover over the culverin stat page, and have him tell me exactly how much damage it does to artillery and cavalry, and how long it takes to fire. There is just a massive difference in clarity it borders on the absurd.
Block training is better than waiting for units to pop up one at a time, please do not bring us back to the dark times of 1 by 1 military unit training.
Villagers should behave like workers in starcraft when returning resources or going back to collect more, ignoring friendly villager collision. Players will be willing for a small suspense of believe when the benefits are less lag late game, no more stuck villagers, and a more seamless economic management.
The trade caravan system of aoe2 was not ideal, with it taking pop space, requiring this tedious minigame of ensuring you do not break its ai through building placement, and causing lag in larger team games. If trade is in the game at all it should be similar to aoe3 trade routes, with trade posts being built on specific points to give you regular income in reward for map control.
naval units and fishing ships no longer count towards pop space, instead having a massive build limit, like 200 units big so as to not compete with land unit pop space. Having pop free fishing ships to boost economy or open military pop space is the reward for winning water and controlling water. Fish and whales replenish every so often depending on # of players in-game.
More natural resources spread throughout the map in nodes that encourage leaving the base and expanding, rewarding exploration and map control with abundance. The greater the map encourages conflict and interaction over resources, the better. Starting resources stockpile should be smaller and last you just a bit into the second age before you have to expand your control over the map.
Please find a middle ground between the trash wars of aoe2 and the endless glut of aoe3 late games. The late game eco should be much smaller than the mid game eco, but still able to field and replace some amount of gold units. Exhausting natural resources from the map and relying on infinite sources should be an expensive undertaking that also gives you significantly less resource income. Economic power should follow a curve, with a slow start into a seemingly endless boom, to a sudden abrupt drop before partially climbing back up then leveling off. You can replace some number of units immediately but lose too large a battle and it will take a while to make an effective response, costing you map control and potentially the game.
Healing is now % as well as flat based. Ships auto heal at docks as well as being able to be repaired by villagers and fishing boats.
Campaigns and Ai Personalities.
I hope the campaign will be very character focused. The story telling should be done from the perspective of the leaders of the time, we should see through their own eyes the things that drove them to take action, whether it be greed and ambition, desperation and survival, or hope for a better future. It is not enough to just hear what they hear and listen to what they speak, but also to understand their opponents and their reasoning. Medieval history is as much a story of personalities as it is nations, and how their aspirations took them to commit great feats. I hope the game doesn’t overly simplify the forces into black and white “good” and “bad” guys, rather celebrate and put a focus on their human side instead, with all that entails.
I want to view the world as Hercules did as he rebelled against the emperor with his father to seize the throne, then battled the Persians and the Avars for nearly 30 years with his Ghassanid vassals, finally making a desperate march to the Persian capital as his own was under siege and win a real life base race. To see the true cross returned to a Roman Jerusalem, an oath kept, a dream fulfilled, an empire healed. His emotions as he personally watches it placed once again in its rightful place, proclaiming to never again let it be lost, and his dreams of the future. His struggles to unite the various Christian sects into a unified church, his search for enduring peace with the sassanids and lay the groundwork for a united Rome once more only to watch it all crumble as armies from the desert relentlessly hunt down and destroy everything he worked to accomplish. I want to be there at his most desperate times and see how he faced adversity, be there in his most glorious victories and celebrate with him, to succeed and fail alongside him.
I want to see as Joan of Arc sees when she finds her country in ruins and feels a sense of divine duty to save them, the desperation of the knights and soldiers around her, and how when they hear her talk of prophecy and saints feel hope once more. I want to hear the soldiers in game shout her name when she passes by ingame, to feel the desperation in their voices and actions, clinging to any hope that their world was not ending, that the kingdom still had a future. The image of a soldier in the mud, having just barely defeated an English knight, and there she is, standard in one hand, the other stretched towards him. Her words cut clear above the haze of the battle: “rise, our champion.” How even the nobility and the royal family give her audience and grant her their authority in search of that hope. And be there when that hope turns to reality, and the tides turn. Only for her to be captured, and the sorrow as they try to save her and fail, only to strengthen their resolve and continue her campaign to restore the Capetian crown as the sole rulers of France.
I want to be there as Tariq sees opportunity to launch an attack on Visigoth Spain, despite orders to consolidate control of Northern Africa from his commander Musa and the caliph. To feel that tug of war between loyalty and ambition, to see Musa finally give in and assist him, becoming accomplices in securing a large domain for themselves. to see their differences put aside and manage to work together despite the odds against them and achieve one impossible victory after another. And when the orders to return and explain their insubordination can no longer be ignored, Musa is on the dhow ready to leave for Damascus. when Tariq comes on board to celebrate their achievements, wishing they could have finished it to the end together and praying the caliph is lenient, he turns around. “You should. You’re coming with me”.
Ai now has distinct personalities and character like in aoe3, with a fully voiced and visually diverse cast. From the S&M queen of Spain, the death and suicide obsessed Aztec emperor, the never surrender tyrant of Russia, to the absurdly arrogant shogun of japan, aoe3 had some great personalities which I hope continues in aoe4. There were some terrible ones as well though, like the irritating submissive and servile Hindu(??) Mughal emperor, the non-existent explorer of Portugal who I keep forgetting the name, and the very bland Lakota war chief who is slightly less forgettable (his name is 4 letters). Contextual responses also liven them up, as a particularly great line from Kangxi of china in a losing game vs japan talked in a desperate voice about how the Japanese where closing in around us, and that they were not going to accept negotiations. Such lines can bring chills and really put you into the atmosphere of the game, and I hope we see more of that in this game.
Thanks for reading.