AOE2 needs a major update

Aoe2 has been consistently popular since its release in 1999 due in part to its simple yet addictive gameplay, its historical setting and its active multiplayer community. It has seen a resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to the release of the Definitive Edition in 2019 that modernized graphics and introduced a lot of quality of life improvements to make the game less frustrating and more enjoyable. Since then we have seen many attempts to grow the game even further with the introduction of new DLCs and porting the game to Xbox to reach more players. Despite that the game is currently struggling to acquire new players most of which play campaigns for a limited time before they quit the game. This is likely due to the game’s complex learning curve. The game can be difficult to learn for new players, and it can be challenging to compete against experienced players.

Continuing to rely on the current player base to purchase new DLCs won’t keep the game alive in the future. If we want to ensure the continuous survival and growth of the game, we need to grow the player base while also keeping them hooked.

I think the devs should focus on bringing new quality of life features to the game making it aligns with todays competitive games norms to attract new players like what they did when they introduced the Definitive Edition. The aim is make the game less overwhelming for players in both Xbox and PC reducing the annoying obvious details we have to worry about while preserving the gameplay. The game became less frustrating when they introduced Farm auto reseeding to the game and allowed it to be more enjoyable.

So here’s in my opinion what needs to be done:

  • Create a more enjoyable learning curve : this can be done by creating shorter casual game modes for new players reducing the number of units and buildings that players need to manage allowing them to improve while enjoying the game. Empire wars game mode is more suitable for new players because it skips the dark age part of setting the economy which is not the most enjoyable especially for beginners.

  • Communication : Communication is a huge part of a strategy game. Lack of communication can lead to a less enjoyable experience. Unfortunately age of empires 2 communication system doesn’t fit today’s competitive games norms. All we have is a useless flare system and chat which is not the best way to communicate while dealing with lots of settings. The solution is to use a better flare/ping system to alert your allies:

  • Making the game less overwhelming : These are the simplest things that don’t look important but can have a lot of difference in a game with lots of settings especially for Xbox players. The aim is to simplify the mechanics reducing the number of actions we have to make while preserving the same gameplay:

– Having to deal with setting waypoints for obvious things. Fishing ships and trade carts going idle when spawned if we didn’t set a waypoint to fishes or the furthest market while it’s obvious that fishing ships and trade carts can only do one obvious job. So instead perhaps we should change the default situation for these units when spawned without a waypoint. The same for monks holding a relic unless it’s ordered otherwise it’s expected to bring the relic back to nearest monastery automatically. These things are overwhelming with a mouse and keyboard let alone for players with controllers.

– Select only unbuilt/unfinished foundations instead of selecting all similar buildings to cancel them quickly. When double clicking on an unfinished building it should only selects similar unfinished buildings. When double clicking on finished building selects both finished and unfinished. This allow us to both cancel unfinished foundations or manage all similar buildings.

– Ability to set a rally point for unfinished buildings. Currently when selecting all buildings finished and unfinished the rally point is set for only the finished ones.

– Add hotkey/Button for garrison spawned units in their building. Currently we have to assign each building separately using the mouse

– Luring deer: while luring deer using scouts was not originally intended when creating the game. It remained an important part of game mechanics. Everyone knows how frustrating luring deer can be and I think some tweaks needs to be done to make it less frustrating (like adding a new mechanic to scout to stick behind the deer every time it moves).

– Docks: The only building that can be used for trade, collecting resources and spawning military units. The current state of the building is impossible to micro and very frustrating to deal with. One of the reasons water maps being unpopular. Unfortunately, it has been neglected by devs when there’re many possible solutions like splitting the building into three clickable parts each with its unique units, waypoints and keyboard shortcuts. One for trade, one for fishing ships and one for military. Like 3 buildings sharing the same foundation. Overall I think we should introduce more tweaks to water introducing new water units with unique mechanics for different civs ensuring balance for water maps.


  • User Interface, Lobby: Outside the gameplay, User experience is terrible and there’re a lot of changes that need to be done. I will mention the most important things.

– Preserving the party after finishing a game. It’s very frustrating having to recreate a new party every time. starting another new game should be quick.
– Changing lobby options (like hide civs) without the need to recreate a new lobby.
– A good social system. I really hate not being able to see online players on other platforms or sending them invites multiple times before they receive and accept it. That’s mandatory for a game that have both Xbox and pc players.
– Despite having the best content and best community on social platforms. Using the game feels very distant and this should be addressed by adding links and alerts about current events / tournaments.


League of Legends’ (LoL) unmatched multi-“flare” system is the best QoL feature we could have in AoE.

  1. Want to put a “caution”? Hold Ctrl, and left-click on a map location.
  2. Want to put a simple pin (flare)? Hold Alt, and left-click on a map location.
  3. Want to put one of the following eight messages: On my way / All in / Assist me / Hold / Enemy missing / Bait / Retreat / Push ? Hold Ctrl or Alt, or hit G, and hold-n-drag left-click on a map location, and use the on-screen menu that will pop-up:

Each one with its exclusive sound, to differentiate each message also audibly.


The four options on-screen pop-up menu, shown in the original poster’s image, is from an earlier version of LoL, and it was nice too.


speaking of this
aoe3 de added this exact ping system last year
works very well too
lemme show you, just need to find that screenshot


here we go

top is danger, left is watch, bottom is assist, right is attack
very clear system
also UI i use is modded to be exact replica of aoe2 DE, all of these also appear as marks on the map for brief time
i think this system would fit in perfectly with aoe2 DE as well, its just a needed change imo


IMO this is actually the greatest irony of DE. I appreciate most of the things that have been added, which makes it worth staying despite all flaws, but the most fundamental “quality of life improvement” is making sure that the game maintains a high functioning state and that its existing features work as intended. Unfortunately the DE era has been characterized by recurrent quality issues such that in many ways it errs on the side of being more frustrating than its predecessors, even if they were much more limited.

The current player base can absolutely keep the game alive - a smaller one did so for years while the game wasn’t officially supported. I generally agree that getting more people into the game is a good thing, but I don’t blindly accept the premise that AoE2 is in an existential crisis and the only thing that can save it is an influx of the type of people who need to be coddled and pandered to excessively as a condition of their participation. People talk about the “high learning curve” as if it’s exclusively a bad thing. I regard it instead as something that rewards increased investment and keeps the game exciting after years of playing it. In any case, there are already a lot of resources, game modes, and general entry points for new players such that they can enjoy the game even from a pretty lower threshold of skill and game knowledge. Perhaps these resources should be emphasized more, but the game already has a lot more training wheels on it than when I and many others took a liking to it a long time ago.

You may be too fixated on whether AoE2’s system “fits today’s competitive games norms” versus whether it actually needs such changes for its own sake. The point of flaring is to get your allies to look somewhere, and 85% of the time, that’s enough for them to figure out what to do. Most of the other 15% of the time, the situation can be understood by combining a flare and a taunt (attack, retreat, build wall/market, etc). The most I would ask for is a few more taunts to cover various other situations (e.g. look for sneak in this area). I don’t mind the idea of adding a more complicated flare system, but think its far from necessary. Same goes for most of these ideas, frankly. I’d rather they focus on the “quality” aspect of “quality of life” before adding a bunch of new features. And I’d rather the devs do just about anything else before they add more automation.

No need for a new mechanic. “Follow” command already does this.

I sort of agree with your points about water - it could be more interesting, but I’m also not interested enough in it to care if it gets much more interesting (self-fulfilling prophecy, I know). And I definitely agree that the interface and lobby could be improved.

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I agreed most of your suggestions.

Plus I wish they can improve the multiplayer ranked game matching.
I would prefer they make a new AOE2 instead of making a unfinished product like AOE4 from Relic.

  1. Premade team should have a solo ranking system or separate queue with solo players
  2. ban smurf
  3. more appropriate elo balance.

just had a game and this is a classic failure how AOE2 handle the ranked game matches.
A premade team in a row vs solo players plus the elo advanatages
this is absolutely insane, I have played many games and I must say AOE2 is one of the most that premade using discord can gain a super huge difference. And I observed that right now premade team tend to choose random civs so as to beat those solo players much more. using discord to adjust the random team disadvantages is much easier than the solo players.

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I think you misunderstood. Follow keeps a distance so it can’t push deer continuously without attention. What he means is having the scout follow close enough so that deer pushing (on a straight line) is automatic.

I would like that too. Deer pushing is the most boring micro.


Often follow is good enough to get the deer to your TC without further clicks once you get behind it, but it’s not always consistent. If anything just have the “follow” stay 1 or 2 tiles closer to the target, or let the “guard” command (which stays closer) apply to deer. Regardless of any tweaks here or new mechanics, you’re probably still going to run into pathing constraints, especially weird behavior/resetting near obstacles.


Yeah the ranked system have many issues and I guess this happens because the matchmaking can’t find players with elo close to your level which is why they need to improve the experience overall to bring more players.

This first post is really a bunch a different ideas together. As result it doesnt seems to get much traction, since people does have the feeling that they must have to respond to everything.

I see a lot of great point made in the first post. It is really a long list of QoL features that can be added to the game. Some would have more priority then others. Just a reply to some of them:

I do support your main point: creating a more enjoyable learning curve, but i dont know if your solution is the solution. I dont think EW is better suited to new players. It is a much faster paced mode. There isnt really a time to settle into the game. New playlers will instantly die to early aggression on EW. That doesnt sound fun for new players. The dark age give you much more time to build up some defensives. I do agree Dark age is the most boring time, but it is also the time to wall and delay attacks. That is great for new players.

If you want a more enjoyable learning curve, then you might have to expand the Art of War campaign to learn the basics. And even then many online players dont care about the campaigns. So i dont really know if they would try out such campaign to get better.

Communication in team games is completely lacking when playing with randoms. Your flare system seems to be an upgrade above the current system, but that wont change that much. If people just dont communicate at all, then a new ping system wont change that much. I dont see many pings from allies, except from flairing their own TC on nomad (but we have share vision and we already can see their spot. I dont really know how to improve on this.

I am against auto everything, but these things make sense. Why should i have to order my monk to go to the relic and then go back. Let him come back automaticly. These kind a things do make sense.

I would go even farther in two directions:

  1. The full UI is a mess and needs a complete overhaul. It is currently a mix of two style. Make it jkust one style, so overhaul everything to achieve this. That fixes a lot of visual issues.
  2. Why focus on lobby? A lobby is a old system. It a state of the art piece in 1999, but currently such system is outdated. Match making is currently the way to go. I would focus on improving match making so many players will make the step from the lobby to ranked. Match making is just a far superior system over a lobby.

Things like clans seem a thing from the past. Nowadays you have discord communities playing this game. I should make sense if you can connect your discord profile to the game, so you can use discor for social acitivity. Like sending game requests to discord friends and stuff like that.

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tbh. I think it would be cool to have an official game mode with no economy where you just capture buildings that trickle resources or train units.
Battle Royal had that but it also had a lot of other things.

Letting people learn the units of the different civilisations without having to think about the economy.

This game mode could also have some unique civilisation bonuses in it that make up for the missing economic bonuses.

This game mode could still have ages and technologies to still let you chose if you want to invest in units or upgrades.
If you don’t want that then just play it in Post Imperial Age.

This mode should have a victory condition where you capture flags that trickle points (or reduce the points of the enemy team) until a certain value is reached.
This way the mode would never go on forever.

A lot of those things could be done with triggers but it would be cool if there was a way to do it in a random map and without clunky triggers.

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What I had in mind was a multiple game modes with different levels of complexity to prepare new joiners to the default game mode. For example, as a start new joiners get a recommended game mode just for beginners where the resources generates every seconds just like relics and depending on the civs and the players focus especially on researching techs, building, spawning units and on combats then perhaps empire wars and then finally the standard mode. A gradual system with different modes that guides players until they become accustomed with large amount of settings in the default mode.


Totally agree. Hope devs read these kind of threads

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I hope so too although they didn’t make any noticeable changes in the recent years and then perhaps it’s because they were focusing on the Xbox console port.

But auto deer luring would just dumb down the game too much. Yeah it’s annoying when the deer runs the wrong way or runs back where it was, but that’s part of the randomness of the game. Might as well have all the deer spawn under your TC if you’re gonna make it so easy to lure them.


Some randomness is hurting the game. I’ve seen too many times one’s deer spawn behind a woodline and the other’s not. In a meta where up times matter so much, it’s too unfair.

I’d say it’s better than current design. I had proposed before that deer always spawn next to berries. Or maybe the 6 deer should spawn together so it’s worth a mill.

Sure, that’s unfair. Also sometimes you get unfair forward resources, while your opponent gets safe berries and gold at the back. But there’s no conspiracy with the map spawns against you. Your enemies get unfair maps or deer just as often as you do. The map dictates your play style. If your map is unfair, you go aggressive in Feudal and / or 1 TC aggression in Castle age. It’s good practice to get unfair maps sometimes because it forces you to adapt and be more aggressive than usual.

You said deer luring is boring, but every game with bases which are completely equal mirror images of each other, that sounds pretty boring to me.


Great suggestions.
Regarding deer pushing, I would say the game should either lean into it and make it smoother or make it impossible so people just have to long hunt or mill the deer. How it is currently is sort of the worst of both worlds.


This is mostly fine, I never complain. The only time I complained was once all my 3 golds were forward and controled by one enemy castle.

Map script needs to be auditted and adjusted for balance. There would be no such need according to your theory. Just play better, just git gud.

Imagine your boars are 20 tiles away from TC while your enemy’s are 4 tiles away. That’s not conspiracy but we don’t need this kind of randomness.

So you see my point, the patch of 3 closest deer is crucial to any build order nowadays and you lose initiative instantly if that patch is behind woodline. Deer has to be mirrored.

imagine if devs implemented aoe3 herding to aoe2 deer, that’d be something (not saying they should tho)