AOE 2 vs AOE 3 vs AOE 4 (Spoilers : All of them are great in one way or other)

Since AOE 3 went semi f2p the player number of the three games almost tied out. Although player count of AOE 2 is at constant 10k, AOE 3 and AOE 4 situationally reach 10k. Right now AOE 3 and AOE 4 are battling each other for second spot after AOE 2. But that doesnt mean AOE 2 exceeds the both games in every aspect. I play 3 of the games. Here are some of the good aspects of the three games comparing one another. This is from my perspective (A casual player). This will help players to decide which one to play.

AOE 2 DE

  • Very simplistic and easy to learn and master. It is

  • Out of three games, AOE 2 is most balanced

  • Best for competitive gaming and has best tournament the Red bull

  • Players from AOE 3 and AOE 4 can easily adapt to AOE 2

  • Best modding community and has great overhaul mods like Rome at war, Lord of the rings, Dharma and has best custom campaigns

  • Easy to mod

  • AOE 1 is integrated by Return of Rome expansion

  • Has the most civs (nearly 40)

  • Receives best expansions including civs and campaigns

AOE 3 DE

  • Has most versatile unit roster. Units are added from all over the world through native settlements, mercenary etc

  • Homecity and card decks

  • Most unique out of the three

  • Hero units that adds more to the game

  • Trade Routes

  • Best naval battles

  • Receives the most love from the developers. They add new units, new visuals and cards in every update

  • Character customization

  • Players compete for trade routes, native settlements that add extra excitement to the games

  • Has best reskin mods and civilization mods (Age of the world, Persian civ mod, East Europe civ mod)

  • Best animation details (artilleries moved around by crews or horses, gun reload animation, unit stance change animation)

  • Best unit battle mechanics ( Every unit gets bonus as they change formation from ranged to melee/defensive)

  • Free to play

AOE 4:

  • Best graphics and a pleasure to your eyes

  • Best animation and sound affects (This game feels lively)

  • Best music and civ themes

  • Best overall game mechanics (Scaling walls, Forts pouring boiling oil etc)

  • Units have unique specializations (Longbowmen deploy spikes, Arbalests deploy pavise, Knights charge with lance and fight with swords, mangudais shoot arrow while moving etc)

  • Best age up mechanic (Building special structure to age up)

  • Has most unique and distinct factions

  • inherits and lots of good game mechanics from AOE 2 and AOE 3

  • Scouts can hunt and capture sheep

  • Best wololo and religious units

  • Best siege gameplay with walls, towers, gates, siege towers, rams, trebuchets etc.

  • Best custom scenarios (Siege of vienna, first crusade, Siege of Rhodes etc)

  • Best community staged competitions (Outback Octagon by youtuber Aussie_Drongo is best competitive gameplay I have watched in AOE. You have all the thrills in this tournament. Players cooperating, back stabbing, outsmarting each other all in one package)

3 Likes

I like this list that highlights the best of each game without trying to overshadow the other games, but I think most would agree that AOE-3 has the best graphics.

It is enough to compare the artillery of AOE-3 with AOE-4, the cannons of AOE-3 are pulled by animals and human operated, while in AOE-4 they are moved by “magic”. Cannonballs will sometimes bounce and hit other targets further away and sound different when hitting water or hitting a cliff.

In the stables there are horses that move, in AOE-4 there are not.

Local towns have animation, while neutral markets in AOE-4 look abandoned.

This is great, but I think that AOE-3 for a 2005 game has very good overall mechanics.

Like the wonders of the Asian civilizations of AOE-3. I think the bonuses in AOE-4 are better than the wonders in AOE-3 (except Japan).

11 Likes

Most of your points are pretty subjective tbh.

Is AoE2 easier to learn then AoE3 or AoE4? Hard to tell for someone who played the game for 20+ years.

Is AoE2 easier to mod then AoE3? You could argue AoE3 is easier to mod because you don’t have to fight with the whole dataset stuff you can just overwrite the parts you want to overwrite.
Is it easier to make 3D models then making 3D models and then convert them to 2D sprites.

Does AoE2 get better expansions then AoE3? It gets more campaigns but the civilisations have less content then a minor civilisation in AoE3 and an expansion includes like 5+ of them usually.

The most subjective point is of course the graphics.
Many people prefer AoE2 and AoE3 over AoE4. It definitely comes down to taste.
Also many people can’t play at maxed out graphics in AoE3 and AoE4 (while AoE2 sprites always look the same, the 4K pack just increases the resolution).

So I don’t think listing the points like that is all that helpful for new players.

Edit:
If I change the order of “AoE3 or AoE4” to ##### ## AoE3" it gets censored?

12 Likes

As a mainly AoE 2 player, I’m not so sure about that one when I see players from 3 or 4 jumping into AoE 2. :smiley: I’ve seen AoE 4 players e.g. killing all sheep at once without realizing that food in AoE 2 rots and your early food eco becomes highly inefficient there. I’ve also seen some AoE 3 players in general underestimating AoE 2 regarding pace.

I think these two points should actually go to AoE 3, especially with DE. For me, 3 looks on a subjective pov much better than AoE 4 and maps are also more lively due to trade routes and natives.

That one should actually also go to AoE 3. For sure, the Euro civs are closer to each other but overall, you’ve got more diversity in AoE 3 than in 4.

Only two expansions in AoE 2 got 5 civs, namely Conquerors (the first one from 2000) and The Forgotten (the first one for HD from 2013). Three of them featured 4 civs with African Kingdoms, Rise of the Rajas and Last Khans (that one’s included for free in 2 DE’s base game), two only feature two with Lords of the West and Dawn of the Dukes, one split up the Indians from the Forgotten DLC into 4 new civs and one added 17 civs from AoE 1 + added Romans as a bonus for AoE 2.

While obviously not on the level of an AoE 3 or 4 civ (despite the engine definitely can do such stuff, see Portuguese Civ Mod for CD Version), the DE DLC civs are so far the most creative ones.

3 Likes

SPOILER:

Age of Empire III: Definitive Edition is the best.*

*(opinion may be biased)

16 Likes

I have mentioned it in AOE 3 sections you can check. AOE 3 has better detailed animation but AOE 4 has animation that makes it more lively … like an idle unit making movements like scratching head, looking around… when an enemy is near it becomes weary. Also sounds make it lively aswell like when a large army is moving you hear crumbling footsteps… or when many villagers working togather they are chattering and talking with each other etc

Exactly this is my point

In plain maps AOE 3 looks way better. But In customized map you can make AOE 4 maps look like haven. AOE 4 has hidden beauty. Check out Age of noobs videos

I own all games and their definite editions, except AoE4. I’m not impressed with what I’ve seen from that game so far, and isn’t interested yet. I also own AoM, and a ton of other RTS games.

After playing all of them, I’ve kinda fallen into AoE2, and an occasional AoM bout. I don’t play anything else.

I know that people enjoy the home city and deck system, but that has been an absolute dealbreaker for me. It is so much of an issue for me personally that I’ll never play another game with the same system, ever.

Another issue is arbitrary building limitations, which has been an issue in AoM as well.

Where I will praise AoE3 in its graphics. AoE3 graphics are definitely something special. It strikes the right balance between AoE2’s hand-drawn 2D-type graphics, and the overly cartoonish look of AoE4. I’ll take AoE3 graphics over anything, except AoE2 ones, any day. If you are going for 3D, AoE3 is the best, hands down.

10 Likes

Easy to learn, hard to master.

AoE3 is Easier.

You said the same for AoE2 as well. 11

AoE3 is better graphics wise.

7 Likes

This.

I really appreciate decent enviromental sounds. I used to love playing Battle for Middle Earth 2 with it’s sound design. I want to hear the stomps from a group of soldiers marching, or idle chattering.

1 Like

No. Aoe3 has by far and wide the best graphics. Aoe4 graphics are some of the worst I’ve seen in a while for a AAA game. Aoe2 goes toe to toe with 4. That should tell you something about the quality of 4.

You mean like wonders in aoe3?

I am not going to argue on the other aoe4 “best features” that were present in either 2, 3 or AOM decades before.

8 Likes

Aoe3 is my favourite but I also enjoy aoe4 but this statement is entirely wrong ;

In what way does 4 have more unique factions than 3?

8 Likes

I’d say AoE3 is better at all of these things.

AoE4 has better looking terrain and elevations, but the water looks like trash and the flora and fauna are extremely limited. AoE3 unit models and animations are far better and it also has better building scaling.

AoE4 landmarks are generally better than AoE3 wonders, but they’re still quite lacking. African and Colonial age ups are just as good if not better, and if you include revolutions as age ups then AoE3 is easily the best.

AoE3 is objectively the most unique. The most unique AoE4 faction is almost a copy and paste from AoE3 Ethiopians and most of the factions only recently got unique units like Ghulams, etc.

12 Likes

3 has, by FAR, the more ‘living world’ of any of the games. There are more maps, more things on the maps (birds, animals, native settlements, trade routes, balloons, TRAINS, etc). It’s the best.

14 Likes

Then why cant I mod it :smiling_face_with_tear:

Nah AOE 3 reskin mods are way better and good looking, AOE 2 reskins are just civ3 graphics. On the other hand AOE 2 has better custom campaigns and overhauls/ mods that entirely change the game

I think most people here didnt play community maps in highest graphics. AOE 4 is actually prettier than many people think and they are missing out big. But yeah to me AOE 4 seemed better looking , the opinion may vary person to person

Ya but those are limited to only asian civs not all of them while AOE 4 landmarks contribute more to the gameplay.

AOE4 graphics has potentials (that’s a political way to say it). It has more modern engines that could achieve far more than older engines. Like more customizable unit gears, auto-generated roads, terrains changing with buildings, etc.

That being said they still decide to make chicken and horses inside buildings static, and few to none aesthetic items on the map besides gameplay-related ones.

8 Likes

Well atleast it has chickens :rofl:

i’ll point out the animated horses inside stables with 2 and 3 DE, amongs many other similar elements
if anything aoe4 is disappointing because its not making use of all the clearly superior tech, aoe3 engine might be more limited in what it can do but its being used to the max, aoe4 meanwhile is barely scratching the surface of what could be, also, not related to visuals, i’m not a fan of aoe4’s input lag, which is much greater than either 2 or 3, smt i noticed you didn’t mention, so i thought it’d be fair to include this (i’d also add ctrl click of aoe4 as the + for it)

2 Likes