An old player's dissatisfaction with AOE 4

As a player who started playing the game Age of Empires in junior high school, AoE2 and AoE3 are the best memories of his adolescence.

In 2017, Microsoft announced AoE 4, and I began to pay attention to its development progress. Every day, I prayed to play AoE 4 earlier, and the official release of AoE4 in 2021, It’s my biggest surprise after growing up and working. Like a gift from God, I have too many feelings for it. It feels like my own growth,After so many years, it has finally ushered in a new look.

I even want to become a game anchor and broadcast AoE 4 live every day, because as a player, a game that can make myself follow enthusiastically and accompany me forever is also a great happiness.

But now, I’m losing interest in it. It’s a tragedy. I can’t find the reason. I think AoE2DE and AoE3DE are more interesting than it. Now I’m not worth wasting time on it. More importantly, these two games were released earlier than it.

I was a little disappointed when I first participated in the game trial test. Compared with AoE 2 and AoE 3, AoE 4 does not have comprehensive functions. It does not have the function of viewing a complete map after the game, the function of automatic patrol, the function of selecting colors, and Defeat the treasure guardian to get the setting of the treasure in AoE3, (this is conducive to early development and map exploration),you can’t drive animals away, can’t set routes, etc., resulting in the game is very strange to old players, and the playing methods of many AoE2 and AoE3 have changed (China has abolished the setting of two more farmers than other countries).

Moreover, the shortcut function of the game is worse than its predecessors. There is no cheating code and map editor. The score of players can’t be seen by default. Why can’t the game speed be adjusted? Why is there no custom resource? (what about my unlimited resource mode) ?And now you only have a small-scale war mode. You also split it into six modes that look different but play almost the same way.Why are there not other game modes like (kill the king mode)(Treaty mode) (survival mode) (Imperial war mode)? (I heard that the latest beta version has added some functions, hoping to make the game more complete soon.) is this Age of Empires I’m familiar with? Or a bad imitation using its name?

The update speed of this game is too slow. The updates of AoE2DE and AoE3DE are much more diligent than it. There are still a lot of bugs to be repaired and a lot of functions to be improved. But now this efficiency, I can’t guarantee that it can be completed in a short time. Please pay more attention to this game, There are many feelings of old players in it.

This game lacks creativity. Today, we don’t compare it with other new RTS games. Even if we remove the card support function of AoE3 and compare it with your AoE4, it has more innovative playing methods than your AoE4. Your AoE4 just copied the original framework and playing method of AoE2 and made a game with high similarity, but it still lacks many basic functions and playing methods, This makes your AoE4 playing very monotonous.

What’s the fun of this game? I’ll keep building siege cones to rush? Or constantly hiding behind the city wall to create wonders? Or continue to occupy the holy land? Or repeat the invincible siege at the end of the game to attack the opponent’s towns and walls? What’s the fun of this game? I play this game to build the city wall? Upgrade age? Develop the economy, and then use the invincible siege to defeat the opponent or watch the cannons bombard each other?

This game is also very lack of details. When soldiers use torches or long-range weapons, they will not change short weapons immediately after being attacked by the enemy. Is this soldier stupid? Is it so difficult to make a picture of switching action? There is no one to push the siege device while driving. Please, AoE3 has people pushing the cannon. Can’t you do it without AoE4 technology? The picture and modeling of the game are still so rough. There is no difference in the scenes in the maps of different climate environments, and there are only those kinds of animals.

Your aoe4 game balance is the worst I’ve ever seen. In the past, there were abundant fish resources. Players liked fishing, so you reduced the number of fish. Players liked hunting, so you reduced the movement speed of scouts carrying animal carcasses,

Not to mention the Arab, Mongolia’s exaggerated and powerful advantages are still not well balanced after being updated. Delhi and China, which are late age countries, at least let them live to their late age in the game. China’s exaggerated late strength will indeed affect my game experience, but I don’t care about this, Because it is too fragile in the early stage, and the cost and cost of trying to show its advantages are too heavy. It costs twice as much resources to upgrade its age and Dynasty as others. I play China. If my teammates do not protect me from developing to the later stage, I have no chance to fight back, because my early army is too weak to protect myself by quantity, I can’t harass the enemy well. I’m finished,

It’s really funny now. Officials can’t supervise the wonders and docks. A large number of Zhuge crossbows can’t kill a large number of cavalry. A large number of fire lanser can’t counterattack the enemy’s siege. The honeycomb cannon is not as good as the light catapult. China can only be beaten in the whole game. I don’t know what advantages China has in the game,In the game setting, all the advantageous items in China have become decorations and jokes

Others say that China can be made into a civilization with the characteristics of a large number of low-quality and cheap infantry. I tell you that you have changed the game setting. China is a gunpowder civilization, not an infantry civilization. The victory of ancient Chinese wars is not based on the number of people. We rely on the continuous development of science and technology and military strategies to determine the victory or defeat of the war. However, in modern history, due to the long-term lack of development, science and technology has lagged behind western countries and suffered the most terrible disaster. However, wait and see, the Chinese are very hardworking and smart, and the advantage of science and technology will be in our hands sooner or later.


I completely agree with you! So many common sense core gameplay mechanics are missing. I was hoping for a feature-rich experience, but it’s bland and lazy. It’s lacking in so many ways compared to AOE 2 DE, and it feels like a huge disappointment. The only thing it has going for it is the good graphics. I really think unless Microsoft steps things up and majorly overhauls features and customization in this game, it will die once the hype fades.


I think half of the problems are from a rushy release.
Lacking basic features and functionalities as if the game is designed from scratch without learning from 30 years of development of RTS (No random maps? No custom starts? No color picking? Are these something so difficult to implement?)
Seemingly diverse but actually poorly-planned options, resulting in much more monotone play styles than it looks like on paper. Just compare the abbey with the council hall. I wouldn’t even design something like that in a fan-fiction.
These can be improved bit by bit but I do not think they should be problems in the first place.

The rest comes from intentionally toning down stuff as if we were in 2000s.
Not even comparing to AOE3. AOE2 had more vibrant environments and map elements. Birds. Landscapes. Pure aesthetic decorations. The horses in the stables move (imagine that). Yes AOE2 was 2d and did not have those real-time rendering issues I know and you don’t need to teach me that. But 3D game has also been developing for 20 years and AOE3 as a 3D game in 2005 can do this not to mention all the 3D games after it. Is this really a technical barrier so high?
And I do not know what these cater to. Casual players? Shouldn’t casual players care more about those pure aesthetic details? Lower-end PCs? Aren’t there options to disable high poly models and use lower graphics? (AOE3 lower graphic settings will disable the animations like say falling pieces from buildings under siege)
Competitive players? Boy the game is even released with no ranking.

But they have done their jobs pretty well. Most players bought the game out of the reputation of the series, nostalgia, or advertisement as the only BIIIIIG rts at the moment. Played the campaign. Impressed by the documentaries (the few polished aspects at release). Gave a positive review and then left. Jobs done.


A long wall of text disguised as another China nerf rant.

Bye if you can’t L2P. Chinese is actually decent against early aggro push.


Writing off dissidents is very tempting. It’s really convenient to be able to ignore everything someone says by dismissing them as unskilled and whining. It’s also about the single most dangerous way to handle criticism if anyone truly wants to improve a game or one day appeal to other groups than those who are already pleased.


A large number of Zhuge crossbows can’t kill a large number of cavalry.

If my teammates do not protect me from developing to the later stage, I have no chance to fight back, because my early army is too weak to protect myself by quantity

He speak it self explain by himself, unskilled whining. Unable to understand the meta of previous Pro Scout and fishing economy hurting the ways of high level matches.

Meanwhile the BBQ landmark, handcannoneers tower slit, the repeater crossbows, and the offical production boost making China one of the best early game economy and production boost to fend off any early attack. Did he use them? Did he try learn to use them?

China being weak my ____.

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Its documentary is very good, and the popular science of historical knowledge is also very detailed. However, I prefer to listen to the battle plot like the story in AoE2, because it will make me feel that I am also the witness of this historical event

AOE4 reminds me in a way of Empire Earth 3.
Maybe not as extreme, but people bought it because of the first two games.
Then it was sourced out to a different development studio and they butchered it / lazily implemented it. Then the series died. All about the $$$$$.

I actually don’t think these are comparable.
The problem of EE3 is that it is an entirely different game in every respect, graphics, play style, art style, etc. Yes EE2 also plays very differently from EE1 but at least the tone is similar. EE3 is an overall extremely simplified version of previous EEs in terms of civ and unit designs, and tries to mimic an overly-comical warcraft-like style in a historical game, but even failed in doing that because of its extremely bad taste (mutants? Zombie bombers? Seriously?) .

AOE4 seems to me as a direct opposite. It tries so hard to mimic a 20 year old game in its playstyles but offers nothing more exciting, but it was released missing a lot of important features that make that 20 year old game enjoyable or those that have become natural for the RTS genre in its 20 years of development.


Players’ complaints about the lack of important functions of AoE4 have been discussed since the launch of AoE4, but I still had a lot of confidence in the follow-up update and improvement of these functions of AoE4 at that time, but after such a long time, my patience is about to be consumed, and I am more and more disappointed in AoE4. That’s what I want to say.

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if im being honest i don’t really like the engine the developers used it feels very clucnky. would’ve preferred it if the game was more cartoonish but polished, hard to explained but basically more on par with unreal engine 4 models

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exactly this

i agree, but it doesnt change the fact that OP created a pretty lengthy post, to simply complain about chinese balance, instead of stating as such

are you implying somehow that Abb is one of the strongest civs!? my bro they are one of the weakest (stats wise)

literally the opposite. because you dont understand game balance or what works and what doesnt you think these issues should have stayed?

the game has a lot of issues, which you mentioned earlier, but from this point onwards your post goes completely off the rails and you need to learn a lot more before anything you said here becomes accurate.

zhuge nu should NEVER counter cav

hunting needed to be nerfed

fishing NEEDED to be nerfed

clocktower was OP AF in the wrong situations, so needed a nerf (the wonder you are referring to)

just be patient and china will get the balancing it needs, but definitely not in the method you think it needs it

I didn’t say that Arabia is the strongest.

My complaint about game balance is that relic treats everything simply by weakening their data a lot, so as to achieve the purpose of players reducing their use. The balance between fishing and hunting has made me lose two development strategies. I don’t think this is a reasonable change.

China’s balance change has made him lose most of his advantages and civilized characteristics, which is simply changing China’s playing methods and settings, but the strength of the early age corresponding has no corresponding compensation, but simply weakening China’s Late age strength to achieve balance. As a Chinese player, I am very dissatisfied with this balance change.

‘Rushy release’? They worked on this for five years.

They worked on this for five years. Is it? Is that the result now?
Do they really understand that for players, there are many functions that can not be missing in the Age of Empire?

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They probably started the project five years ago. Correct me if I’m wrong. But the time they actually worked on the game itself might be shorter.
By rushy I mean almost every single major RTS comes out with a decent map editor and basic functionalities like random map/faction. I see no reason of intentionally excluding these at the release. The only reason I can think of is they haven’t finished it by the time of the planned release date.




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I took the time to read the whole personal experience you have provided and while I don’t want to add anything about China as I’m not really experienced in that faction, I think you’re right about some aspects about AOE4.

On the NEGATIVE, I say:

The game clearly is NOT like the others. If we compare cost to quality, it’s overpriced, the graphics of AOE3 held with no stress on ULTRA even on mid range PCs, details are horribly forgotten, like…the cannons are levitating sentient living beings type of forgotten. Units sometimes forget their function or what to do or confuse targets (I developed a sixth sense about how they work to have less of a trouble with them), AI is aggressive on Easy, graphics on Low are 2D images, on High they are blurry or not well defined.

Interface is super laggy when you hold the masteries tab open up until you enter and exit a game , campaign is oversimplified, I’m sure they used PNG images where they could and it’s visible that they tried to apply a certain amount of creativity based on what was the demand, aka ‘‘don’t sweat too much on it’’.

The campaign maps, if you paid attention to some details have sharp edges that weren’t blended in as I’ve noticed myself today while playing the Rus campaign. For those unfamiliar with map creation, when you paint the map you are also responsible for blending the colors so they look natural.

It overall feels like they have a strategy in mind for the game and which types of players they want to attract because usually very repetitive multiplayer games are made to be addictive and over-competitive to make up for the lack of balance so they can market on the obsession of others later than fixing the game entirely. It’s a modern practice of online games nowadays where communities get progressively more toxic while playing something they are addicted to or can’t part with because they are hardcore fans of the franchise and have a way to play with multiple people rather than a few friends and repeating the process. Others feel like they spent too much time to give up. However this is mere assumption albeit it happens a lot in every online game I know and I say this simply because I wish to be wrong about the situation and their plans for the future of the game.

In essence a fun game is one where people come together for fun times in that virtual environment which the game provides to allow overly stupid or extremely skilled scenarios to occur evenly and that is a very hard to balance aspect of online games because FUN ≠ Victories/game, FUN = number of possibilities + faction flexibility to certain pre-existing scenarios that are meta and occur frequently. There’s a variety of aspects that are taken into account when making the perfect gamer experience and gaining satisfaction only out of victories will inevitably push the game towards competitiveness for a later stage of marketing, which will inevitably cause internal fights between community members, dramas over patches and nerfs and so on.

The filthy casual and the pro must have an equal amount of fun in order for a game to be considered legit fun. Make something too stupid and the pro complains, implement something too serious and the casuals are out. For both: details, flexibility and map design are crucial nonetheless and I think here is the main problem that they perhaps overlooked or ignored in 5 years of development. I suspect they try to make each civ better at something but that is not working towards originality, creativity or fun, it’s moving towards counter picks, team fights that will be a problem anyway and probably later on: clan wars. Since everything is so simple put, this is the conclusion I have taken about what they try to do and will do. To which extent this applies, I do not know and I cannot read the future.

My best advice is to not cling to specific factions or the game overall as this is clearly not the final product and it would only play with your feelings or mind to see changes to begin with. This will only affect your well being and that should not happen.

On the POSITIVE, I say:

I like how history is presented like a documentary, it has made me curious about diverse historical figures I have not yet heard of in history classes. Factions have great potential and I would love to see them more unique and less recycled to whatever possible extent. I like that it wants player feedback and gives the opportunity to do so, also providing with instructions on how to. I love how the game feels, the voices of settlers, it has a soft design to it from my perception. Music is pretty good and I like how it switches depending on faction you choose when starting a game or selecting a faction in custom.

The room for improvement is MASSIVE and every game gets repetitive after a while, yet the difference between a fun game and a horrible game is defined by the extent to which the players take their competitive nature to. In casual matches such things as competitiveness shouldn’t exist, players should have an instinct to play as if it’s a sandbox and fool around while the more serious aspect should be in Rank. But this is an aspect that narrows down to the basic common sense of each player regardless of interest. And due to the common sense or lack of it, complains are made on both sides that are usually not very insightful and full of anger out of frustration for real or surreal problems of the game.

Therefore if the game is not fun in casual, it’s community’s fault. If it’s not fun and there is not much flexibility to factions to fool around it’s the dev’s fault. Because not being able to do anything against certain units or strategies is bringing down the fun and emphasizes on Victories to satisfy.

I just hope that whatever they will make in the future for the game is well thought, otherwise if it gets too competitive I’m not investing anything in it as I do not like games that benefit off of poor mental health of its player base. It’s just not right.

Here’s what I saw today in the first mission of the Rus campaign, dunno if it’s known or not, haven’t been here before: