An ode to Return of Rome

How much better could I say? I’m in love with this game. It’s everything I expected from an Age 1 remake, or very close to it.

Right on the Main Menu, the first surprise. Listening to the new version of the Rise of Rome intro was a joy, unexpected. Then I opened the Campaigns screen, and how beautiful! However, it feels a little empty with only 3 campaigns, but luckily the developers are already addressing this and 4 classic campaigns are on the way! I voted for Greece and Yamato, how about you?

The first campaign I played was Sargon’s. Seeing Sargon’s unit simply being the Hero Jason of the classic game, which DE lacked, put a smile on my face. The narration is great in all three, Pirrus Campaign being one of my favorites for its humor and personality, but the other two aren’t far off.

The campaign scenarios themselves are very well thought out and crafted. Most of them are still about destroying the enemy city, but in all of them this is organized in such a unique way that I never got the “Oh crap, here we go again” feeling in any of them. It’s interesting how well incorporated the campaign identity of Age II is, while still preserving the feel of classic Age 1 missions.

There are other surprises that excited me. Now each civilization has its own musical theme, and many eye candies are present, making campaigns more impressive, such as statues, weapon stands, ruins and monuments.

The Quality of Life features added are exactly the amount the game needed to be refreshed while maintaining its identity. Having gates and formations now, I think Age of Empires doesn’t need Unique Units, Unique Techs or Castles (in short, being Age II) to be great. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t add more flavor to it. Unique Wonders are a must, and unique skins for the units each civ has bonuses for would be awesome without messing with the core, feel and balance of the game, but embellishing it even more.

Yes, Return of Rome is what Age of Empires: DE should have been, but I wouldn’t say that buying Age I: DE was a waste for me. In fact, it’s a remastered version of the classic game, I’ve played all the campaigns on it and a few random maps, and despite its poor state, it works well enough that I could have done it.

Considering Age I: DE was the devs first attempt at remaking an Age game, I’ll cut them some slack. The terrible decision to release it as a Windows Store exclusive wasn’t theirs, and if porting the game to the Age II engine was the best way they could find to preserve it, so be it.

Even so, I still think that DE owners should have some discount on it, as it has new content, but the classics are missing.

Oh, and here it’s still missing some classic elements: Discoveries, the horse-shaped markings on the ground (they always looked like Anubis to me, actually). Like many others, I miss the DE gold and stone mines, the berry bushes and the elephants.

In the end, I’m glad Return of Rome exists, and I look forward to a bright future for it with new civilizations (Celtic, Germanic, and Hindu are the ones I’m looking for the most), new campaigns, unique wonders, and unique unit skins.

Thanks to the developers who worked on this DLC, and to those who continued to believe in the first game’s potential to make its truly definitive mark on history once again :grinning:!


I too am very glad for it. The new content it’s added has been wonderful for modding Rome at War.


Good review. I am really enjoying the game as well, and am very glad this DLC was made. I have played now about 25 games and have not had any crashes. The only problem encountered was that sometimes the priests do not auto heal. That bug has already been reported.

The new maps, new game formats, new music, new civs (for AoE1 and 2), balance changes, AoE 2 quality of life improvements, team bonuses, new advantages for the civs to make them further unique, etc. make this well worth the discounted price I played, i hope to see more content and improvements, besides the patches.


Nice review! I think I agree with basically everything – although I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m “in love” with it. (Also, I haven’t played the Pyrrhus campaign yet.)

It seems quite weird to me that these were in AoE1, since as far as I know, historically they’re exclusive to Britain, and probably only one (at Uffington) is ancient. Also, if I recall correctly, they only feature in one campaign scenario, which is specifically about Discoveries, and that’s it. I think custom scenario makers mostly used them as snow…


Why are the graphics blurry in UHD mode too though??

This is such a nice and positive post and in many ways echo how I feel too!
But I’ll surprise you with a bonus:

They left most of the Aoe 2 units hidden in the game. So you can re-enable them and use them in campaigns, scenarios, etc.

There is a mod to reenable hidden units in RoR, it’s called: “167430_All Hidden Units (Return of Rome)”
Give it a look :3

I made a list of missing units in another thread btw, but they are:

Lion (Tame)
Blind Lame Priest


What are you talking about? Can you give an example?

Have a look at the specific units (Sargon infantry and chariot and these scenario editor items. Everything is terribly pixellated compared to AOE2DE. I also just installed the latest hotfix patch, still the same. :@


Any answer from the devs about this regard?

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Yes, the heroes of AoE 1 look more pixelated than those of AoE 2… engine stuff?..

great review. It’s like a dream come true, AoE1 with AoE2 engine improvements, and I always preferred AoE1, so it’s ideal for me.

There’s room for a lot of improvement though. Like integrating AoE1 civs in main AoE2 and having the ability to play AoE 1 oriignal and custom campaigns from sites like AoE Heaven in Return of Rome.

Or add unique units to AoE1 civs, i.e. Kungas -first hybrid known ever creature created by humans for war stuff- for the Mesopotamians, and so on and so forth.


Rome at War is the Return of Rome for Age II purists haha. Looks great, really a labor of love! The units being added are great. I can’t wait to play his campaigns!

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Many thanks!

That’s great, the game is really stable! I’m more of a campaign player, I only need to win the last Pirrus mission to finish them all.

I also noticed this. Additionally, units in groups sometimes do not move when ordered. It seems to me that this happens more with units that are far from the main group. I’m sure all this will be resolved in the next patch!

I agree. Everything is so well done. I still need to taste the Skirmish and finally hear the Egyptians theme!


Man, the classic Age was my first RTS game! Then came WarCraft III, Age of Mythology, Age II, Age III and StarCraft, in that order! So I can say that I’ve been waiting to play Age of Empires with gates and formations since I was a kid lol

I think Discoveries are great decorative elements, and have an air of mystery to them, just like Ruins! But if they were to add Britons and other Celtic civilizations, they should include this specific one you mentioned.

Hahaha, you’re right, I think the only other place we could find them was on some Random Maps!

I never knew people could share their maps when I was a kid so never heard of it until now lol

We already have a thread talking about that.

I’m sure the image quality problem would be solved if they allow the DLC files to be larger and less severely compressed.


Zenobia uses a male rider guy


I can’t use UHD graphics so I didn’t notice this bug, but it’s been tracked and will be fixed soon.

I’m glad you liked! It’s the first review I’ve written!

I hadn’t heard about this before, thanks for sharing!

The tamed Lion can work very well as a pet for a Pharaoh or King of Mesopotamia in any campaign!

I wasn’t remembering the whales, but I knew something was missing from the oceans! Their breathing is one of the game sounds I most remember from sea maps to be left out like this.

Discoveries could even lose their Ruin-like mechanics, but they are very characteristic decorations.

The Blind Lame Priest is a classic from the first mission of the Yamato Campaign, where you begin with only an archer hero to play, in desperate need of some healing!

For me too! I like Age II a lot, but the charming simplicity of AoE 1 is what earned it a special place in my heart. Also, I have an extra interest in the Ancient and High Middle Ages.

I don’t know if that would be feasible, though. Even if we consider Stone Age=Dark Age and so on for the Age I civs, the tech trees, the balance and the ambience itself are completely different. Or suppose they took an approach like in Empire Earth: imagine being in the Iron Age, having researched all the technologies and having an army of the best units, and then “advancing” to the Dark Ages lol.

There are already five custom campaigns available: Return of Rome: Campaigns! All of them are from Filthydelphia, former FE campaign designer. I just played After the Flood and The Peloponnesian War, and both scenarios are great!

I think there should be unique skins for the units that each civilization has bonuses for. I created a post about it: Unique skins for Return of Rome units.


good stuff! I am glad there are some custom campaigns for this game already. Did he started working on those scenarios from scratch? Or did he use some kind of “translation” tool?

'Cos that would be idea. Even if that’s an excellent addition to the game, there are loads of awesome custom campaigns of the original AoE1 games in AoE Heaven.

It’s hard to return to AoE2 when you play AoE1 with the AoE2 engine.


Well said! I am loving AoE 1 with the AoE 2 engine.

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I forgot to mention that all these scenarios can already be found in the game, on the mod search screen!

The After the Flood and The Story of the Exodus ones I had played in the Definitive Edition before. Now he has added voiced narration to the Exodus campaign. I think he ported them over to RoR and made the necessary changes to make the maps fully compatible in the new engine.

There’s already a guide on how to port original AoE campaigns into RoR, take a look: Porting Maps to Return of Rome!

I’m playing through Attila’s campaign now, after finishing the RoR ones, and I know exactly what you mean!

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