AoE4 Feedback Sept 2023

I was ranked top 100 players in Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties, Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition, and briefly top in Age of Empires 4 during its early release. I myself am a very competitive RTS player. Here’s my take on Age of Empries 4:

-Lighting: The lighting is great, very bright, able to see clearly. 10/10
-Terrain: The terrain is sometimes too high and the camera doesn’t zoom out, so you end up zoomed in against the grass. Most of the game is also plain flat grassland or desert. No snow, ice, heavy sand, or other immersive geographical finishing touches. 1/10
-Water graphics: The water has no waves, no decorative aesthetics. For a game of 2021 they could’ve added more immersive features, heavy waves that affect combat to a degree, or at least used the water graphics of a game such as Sea of Thieves. (1/10)
-Unit/Character Aesthetics: The units resemble their historical accurate counterparts, yet there’s no variety. All the units look exactly the same. There’s no variety, no colors in the shields, armor, unit clothing, as for example a game like Manor Lords, or Bannerlord, amongst others, where the units have a clear individuality. Therefore, it’s hard to become immersed. (1/10)
-Combat Graphics: The units use no real polearm or pike stabs or slashes. They’re all the same basic movements. No aesthetic parrying or blocking whatsoever. Take for example a game like Ancestor’s Legacy where each unit encountering another is having its own mini duel with its own attacks, parries, and dodges, even while taking damage of course. Kinda sad they didn’t implement more realistic fighting tactics. Also, the cannons don’t send units flying upon firing at them. Also, there is no blood. Units fight, get killed, but none of them bleed. Not a single red stain, or dirty armor. (1/10)

Combat Mechanics: The mechanics for infantry, ranged, and cavalry are standard. The cavalry has couched lance charge with makes it very neat, and the pikemen have a spear brace. This adds an element of realism and helps with immersion. Regretabbly, the gunpowder artillery deals no splash damage upon firing at clustered units and siege engines can’t be placed atop walls. The lack of realism when it comes to cannons on walls and splash hurts the immersion a lot. Example: Cannons from Age of Empires III are much more immersive as you see troops flying upon getting hit by cannonfire. (4/10)
-Strategic Mechanics: The game overall has unique civilizations and they all feel different. Some are ramp, some are easier to tunnelvision, some are flex, some are greedy. There’s decent enough variety to either rush, aggro, ramp, boom, turtle, flank. (9/10)
UI & Camera: The UI is standard, would be nice if there was UI aesthetics added. Example, if playing France, to have French colors, banners, etc around the UI (this should be a toggle on/off option of course). The UI and tooltips are easy to read, understand, and manouver around. The camera has already been addressed in a prior patch, although more zoomout would be welcomed. (8/10)

Single Player: Single player fully relies on the player being able to become immersed while playing the game, and Age of Empires 4 seems to prefer competitiveness, ranking systems, and an overall multiplayer design, when it comes to graphics, aesthetics, combat, to the point one would get bored playing single player. You can’t immerse as well as with prior titles such as Age of Mythology or Age of Empires III where the gameworld was more alive. More unit variety, more immersion. Even in single player, you feel you are warming up to enter a competitive RTS tournament. (2/10)
Multiplayer: Healthy player base, both casuals and competitive players. (9/10)

-Immersion & Historical Accuracy Criticism: Troops have no colors on their shields, it doesn’t feel like a medieval army when you look at it. Rather ragdolls. Cannonfire don’t send units flying like in Age of Empires III nor deals splash damage. Siege engines can’t be placed on the wall. All the units look the same. No ditch system or form of digging a ditch for a siege. Ships are too small compared to ground units. Not enough special hero units with unique mechanics or morale boosts, and such. (1/10)

What I would love to see added, blended, or overhauled, would be:
-More terrain weather. Fog, rain, night cycles of sort, clouds around hills, and for terrain to have an actual effect on units.
-Water mechanics, storms, rocks near the shores, ships should have recoil when firing, and should be slower. They’re just too fast.
-Water aesthetics, more realistic water.
-Units having actual fighting stances (animations while fighting, not the mechanical stances)
-Bullet tracers and smoke lasting a little longer in the air for gunpowder arquebus and cannons, smoke aesthetics made a bit more realistic.
-More colors, faces, voices on the units. If one has an army of 50 pikemen, you should be able to tell they’re all pikemen, yet all look different and have an individuality to each of them. Some with a scarf perhaps, some with different kind of boots, gloves, or armor, yet still be able to tell each one is a pikemen.
-Siege engines are very black and white. Catapults are anti-infantry and powder is purely anti-structure mostly. Bombards, should obliterate a cluster of infantry and deal splash damage, as well as send units flying opon hitting them. Cannons themselves should have visual recoil such as in Age of Empires III.
-Blood. It’s a wargame. It doesn’t have to be grotestque, raw, or disgusting. Not asking for dismemberments of unit body pieces. But in a medieval wargame, where units die, there should be blood and their armors and clothing ought to get messy, sweary, armors should get scratched, and visibly we should be able to see it. Example if a unit has 10% HP, that unit should be bleeding, with armor falling apart. In a sense, we shouldn’t even need to have a HP hotbar above the unit to see if it’s full or low HP. The blood is a must for some of us who want to be immersed, feel that we’re there, in an actual mortal battle.

I would still recommend for anyone to get the game and try it out. It’s more fun with friends than solo, lots of fun moments in multiplayer. It’s a fun game, but it is regrettably not captivating.

I will also add, in addition to being a competitive RTS player, I’ve also been ranked in the top 0.05% of the ranked ladder of PvP in World of Warcraft in 2016 and 2017, have participated at one BlizzCon Arena tournament in the past, and I’m in the top 10% K/D ratio in Call of Duty: Warzone. Just to say, this is coming from a compettive gamer with multiple backgrounds.


Example of unit variety:

You know they’re all archers, or spearmen, yet they all look different, alive. Each one is a unique person. (Source: Manor Lords)

As well as here (source: Ancestor’s Legacy)

Also, the addition of blood, units bleeding, and getting dirty while fighting, is kind of a necessity for some of us who want to be more immersed. Even at a competitive level. Not criticisng the either “cartoony” vs “realistic” style; rather saying, there should be blood implemented. As well as cannon splashdamage, recoil visual whenc cannons fire, and everything else I’ve mentioned. I believe the aeshetics are just as important as the combat mechanics to keep players engaged.

(Source: Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord)

Another reason I bring up the blood portion, is in these last two screenshots for example of Bannerlord, when your shock cavalry couches lances and impales units, you feel the units getting impaled. I think it’s a healthy aspect of the game to have those animations and effects where it makes you feel the action. In addition, arrows could get periodically stuck on units’ armor when they get low HP. Like armored footmen and knights could have 3-4 arrows sticking out of their armor to show they’ve already been in combat.

Imagine seeing a John Wick movie without blood.

And I want to add this video of a very light cannon firing, you can see how there’s recoil even for a lightgun such as this. I read some historical articles and several said fro example, the Ottomans legit had to have railings for their bombards because of the massive recoild they’d have.
And look in this video how upon impact, the smoke/dust of impact, stays in the air for quite a bit. Little details such as these, I feel would captivate more players.


Yes I agree!

I think UI is not as good as the previous AOE games.
AOEIV’s UI doesn’t have any historical images, just signs or silhouettes.
Takes away a lot of immersion. for that reason, I would give only (2/10)


Indeed, everyone loved the cannons in AOE3, it was such a fun experience.
Also all those animals, world etc was so much more beautiful.

Yes, I am ready to pay, if they want us to.

Great analysis!
Let’s hope the devs etc. see this and implement them.


Excellent post. Constructive.

Thank you Rod

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The point about “combat graphics”, which is actually about animations, is a great one which unfortunately does not get talked about enough.

Rus Knights attacking with a Poleaxe should not have the same animations as French Knights. There should be a whole unique array of animations, but they took a massive shortcut in about every humanoid in this game.

There are the exceptions, like Landsknecht with their own poses and attack animations. But, the vast, vast majority uses the exact same animations, which really hurts personality, visual fidelity and clarity. The humanoids already look similar enough, it doesn’t help that they behave similarly in terms of movement.

It is especially why Unique Units feel so mundane. Why doesn’t Sipahi for instance, have their own, unique animations? They kind of just feel like Horsemen, despite looking cooler. Animations isn’t something people think about often, but it makes a really big difference.

For instance. Rus Knight using a Poleaxe could feel very differently had they had animations akin to someone like Boscogn from Berserk. Not that this is a historical or an appropriate example, but anything other than reusing the exact same animations should be the goal. Unique Units especially should have had that attention to detail–many of them suffer because many are “Unique” in name only.

Ghazi Raider is an Unique Unit more akin to the ones you find in AoE2, with slightly altered stats and a small bonus to heavy units. Ok. But, then they double down on using old assets for its model, and reusing animations?

I could set up a system that randomizes models, animations, stats and names of the current units in game, and it’d create something just as Unique and as interesting as the Ghazi Raider. There is is not enough effort put into these matters. A lot of it just feels like a reshuffling of assets.


I do just want to mention regarding the graphics. The trailer showed a greatly revamped water textures in game that look 100x better.

well, yea but not like 100x
2x maybe.

The addition of interactable and non-interactable water waves etc would have been better like in AOE3.
When ships move, it creates waves, oceans etc. have natural wave

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Ok, may have been exaggerating, but still significantly better. Definitely not a 1/10 anymore (and not a fan of the OP’s suggestion to have waves effect combat in an RTS).

Also I would say, lack of splash damage on bombards is an intentional balance decision. It’s no worse than the fact that you can shoot a moving horseback unit with a primitive cannon.

Well explained mate. These basically are the main reasons why i consider Aoe4 a downgrade from what we seen in AOE3 or AOM.

It’s good to see some new content for single players but we are talking about 8 missions.

After two years it’s not enough and i’m sure, at this point, that developers Will not change graphic or effects anymore. AOE4 Is not a immersive game: it’s pretty fun but not immersive as the previous ones

We should looking to next title. I don’t know if you seen the last Survey but there were many questions about graphic so i could assume developers know It has been a very controversial them.


Those other games only work because they don’t let you control individual units and have big floating banners over their armies.
Age of Empires is a fundamentally different game and would be very hard to play if every soldier would look different.
AoE is fast, you have to be able to quickly tell which unit is which.
Those other games are a lot slower.

It’s like playing Mario Card and complaining it’s not enough like Gran Turismo.


Honestly I would hate some of these things. Like the units of the same type looking very different, or even longer lingering smoke, that just makes things messy to look at.

I also don’t want the WAY over the top unrealistic AoE3 physics. I get that the current death animations aren’t realistic either when getting hit by a cannonball, but I far prefer that to rag dolls and chunks of buildings flying everywhere. Early cannonballs weren’t explosive anyway, they’d be solid shot.

Fortunately it looks like they are improving the water aesthetics.

Siege engines on walls would be interesting. Have to be careful with balance there though and not making defenses too hard to siege down.

Especially in competitive mode AoE4 shouldn’t have multiple models for the same unit because it would make micro extremely hard if not impossible. Imagine having to look at the unit for a few seconds because you don’t know if it’s an archer, maa or spear during a micro intensive fight.


@Julian7494 It could be a toggable option. I personally, even as a competitive player, want to feel the game is more alive. They could just easily add 2 to 4 variants to shields, swords, pikes/spears, lances, horses and their clothing, as well as some combat animation variants, and the armors and helmets.

Not all men-at-arms have to sield swords, why aren’t some using a one handed mace or falchion instead of all having a bastard sword?? Why aren’t some longbowmen using lengthier bows while some shorter bows?? Why can’t some pikemen use tall tipped pikes, and some even have a little cloth/rags/bit of a flag on the shaft just below the tip of the spearhead??

Why all knights have to wield one-handed swords, where (realistically speaking) many used maces since it was a very effective and expensive status weapon??

I know some people want to come in here and just spam APM and statistical data and that’s totally fine; I’m not citizicing people that want a “hard-core RTS” blend. What this means, is yes, it’s easier to recognize all units when they’re the exact same model and there’s less room for mistake.

However, I as a competitive player, want not only the competitiveness aspect but I like to compete while being immersed. I want to taste that I’m there in that universe; I think that’s a gargantuan point that gets left out.

It honestly wouldnt be cumbersome to add these different unit models, combat animations, flags, and make the units have more variety, and it can be a toggable on/off option for those that don’t want it.

I totally understand your point about micro-intensivity :slight_smile: Hope you see mine too, and that both can be doable simoltaneously without hindering each others’ preferences. I want you to be able to have the same models because you like that style and makes it easier to recognize units.

I think it’s fair to say if you’d support me wanting more immersion with variety, at the cost of more room for error in moments where misrecognizing units may take place, yet it makes the game more enjoyable for me and those that want that kind of immersion.

The game can have it as an on/off option and we can all be happy.

@CRothlisberger The ragdolls can just as easily be turned into a settings on/off option. I agree, it’s easier to micro when there’s less “cluster” going on. And if you want that style, I think it should be kept. At the same time, doesn’t hurt to add the flying ragdoll animations into the game and having it as a toggle on/off for those of us who want more immersion.

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It isn’t just cannons and ragdolls though.

Every projectile in this game effectively looks like it is shooting a wall. Units getting shot have no reaction, and the projectiles always stop a meter infront of them, freeze for a second, then vanish. Springald shots just look bizarre.

No blood, no impact, no reaction, it just feels unfinished. This is not even criticizing it as an effect, it just quite literally feels like they didn’t finish these interactions, how can I even begin to judge that?


Mind you, I’m not specifically asking for violence but rather that units do not act as if they were lego figures with no sign of interaction when they are in fact in a battle. Springalds firing into a unit only for the projectile to sit frozen mid-air for half a second is just absurd. And even worse is the unit that got hit not even flinching.


Projectile trajectory still pretty weird though.

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Yeah, that’s my bad. The game felt like it released a little undercooked. Beyond balancing issues and bugs with civs, the combat animations do feel like a bit of a downgrade from aoe 3 de. That has nothing to do with its rating.

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Yes, I was hoping we’d see some general graphical updates in future expansions. Would genuinely pay to get some of these quirks ironed out.

I have a feeling that this will end up with “I personally prefer/don’t like…” just like everything related to graphics.

Siege going poof is not an integral part of some particular art style.
Neither is unit clipping into slopes.
Neither is stationary animals.

These are pure lacking. I don’t think anyone would “personally” in favor of them. At least these should be fixed.


I don’t think anyone thinks specific things (siege not aligning with terrain, static animals in buildings, etc) shouldn’t be fixed.

What people normally end up arguing about is what should be done first / next.

I’m personally hoping AoE IV is supported for years to come, and we continue to see things from the small (but overdue, like the things I just mentioned) to the larger (like the terrain rendering in S5, and apparently water updates people are theorising with the expansion?).