AOE4 is a disappointment

I believe (nearly)2 years have passed now and any massive changes to the core game loop are unlikely for AOE4 by now. I in no way blame the devs for this kerfuffle. They do only what they are told to by their project managers and apparently for the managers a winning AOE formula is sort of AOE2.5 with a dash of AOM thrown on top for good measure.

How is it that such little creativity went into making this game. From the top of my head only 3 things come to mind. Units which can fire while on the move, stealth forests and defensive garrison able stone walls. Everything else was picked up wholesale from previous entries. And even that wasn’t done well.

The following things should have at least been considered while they were on the planning stage for this project:

  1. Proper unit physics and death animation ragdolls
  2. Proper siege physics and manned siege(they could have borrowed liberally from COH wholesale for this)
  3. Day-night cycle or something similar if you wanted to have proper stealth mechanics in your game.(guard buildings and military units could be the only ones carrying sources of illuminations so a whole new dynamic of ambushing your enemies during night raids could have been possible)
  4. Dynamic weather which could add another layer of buffs and debuffs for units.
  5. Hill advantage could be better implemented.
  6. Proper building destruction physics
  7. More defensive structures like moats, bridges, etcetc
  8. Uncontrolled AI citizens to make your empire seem more lived in and more dynamic(similar to games like they are billions)
  9. More Gaia AI like herds of animals, packs of predators, bandits and other dissidents(anything to make the world seem alive).
  10. Terrain deformation(permanent?) and building destruction which unis can take advantage of (say archers garrisoning in a half destroyed building for range advantage and protection from projectile fire)
  11. Proper and varied animations(every unit can’t fight everything else in the same way)
  12. Proper projectile physics also.
    I probably am missing others.

Difficulty levels are WAY OFF. First level is fine, it’s for your Grandmother, or for learning the game.

Second level is ‘how did he build all those units to keep attacking me with’?

I want a level like the third or even the fourth level in AOE3:DE and it looks like that’s never going to happen. They really don’t care about single-players.

1 Like

Most single players play campaigns and custom modes in AoE2.

Regarding the OP’s message.

  • There’s a combination of exposed points that most players wouldn’t necessarily have to accept, like (for example) including a day-night cycle mode, unless you only want it for custom games (although I think there is a night mode in the game in some mod, if I remember correctly).

  • In the rest of the points, such as the animation of battles, siege, buildings… or more GAIA can be improved and it may take a while to see it. Remember that the game came out incomplete and, from my point of view, they needed at least 1 more year of development.

Personally i don’t care much about any of those. I think the game is fun and i’d rather have the dev put effort on releasing more gameplay content than trying to make the art look realistic.


Probably more than a year to be honest. But, there are a few things to suggest that what went wrong was management. For example, some things are consistent while others are not. Buildings for the most part look finished and complete, with the exception of some broken animations (chickens, horses, clothings, gers) and broken textures (most Mongol buildings, stables specially). They seemingly couldn’t make the time to do individual walls for each civilization which is a bummer, but is minor compared to what is lacking in other departments.

Environment is probably the part they rushed the most, or had too few employees working on it. It is easily the most rough looking part of the game, despite also being the thing you see the most unfortunately. From foliage being pixelated when in motion, to the lack of variety and quality of trees and foliage, it just does not look natural or aesthetic. The ocean looks like a flooded cobalt mine half the time. Most biomes share similar traits to other biomes, making them look too similar to each other. I’ll throw in Gaia and just environmental effects, technology in here, but it all feels very incomplete compared to Buildings.

Units is a place where they may just have stretched themselves too thin as well. The style isn’t to everyones liking, but besides that, quality seems rather low in general–most Mongol infantry just looks extremely blurry at the highest settings, and armour doesn’t really look all that well. Take Rus MAA for example, you can barely tell whats going on. Another problem which is mentioned in this post, is unit animations being shared too much, making them lack a sense of personality and individual motion when in use, making it harder to distinguish them from each other.

I’d throw in UI in here as well, as to me it looks entirely placeholdery. Tech tree is a good example of how utterly useless a lot of it is.

And Campaign struggles a lot to hold any candle to any RTS campaigns I have played. I’ve played some pretty uninteresting ones, and it shocks me that Empires: Dawn of the Modern World has better campaign than AoE4.

And this is without mentioning the countless of bugs or features that was not launched alongside the game, like the editor or how Mongol’s unpacking mechanic has been broken since beta.

In the end, they did get to put out a game. But, I really feel they needed more than a year in production and I also feel there may have been internal issues in correctly prioritizing or producing certain elements of the game in time.


When is the ‘Anniversary Anniversary’ edition coming out?

1 Like

It’s not the same to develop a game before the launch as it is after. Before the launch, the focus is on creating the game, level design, mechanics, graphics, and bug fixing. After the launch, the focus shifts to updates, patches, post-launch bug fixes, and possibly additional content to maintain and enhance the gaming experience.

Development one year in, with the game still unreleased, would progress faster and typically with the full team, unlike after the game is launched when a portion of the team often moves on to other projects.

There are many casual gamers who enjoyed the campaigns. It’s a matter of personal taste.

I’ve never liked the user interface (in the menu or during gameplay), and I hope it can be changed in the future.


Jesus, I hate that. YOU DON’T SEE THAT IN AOE3, DO YOU!?

I’m fully aware that development happens faster in development, the phrase you are looking for is post-development, which I wasn’t talking about. I think the game should have been in development for another year or two.


So nothing about mechanics or strategy, just visual aids. The whole game is a disappointment to you because it’s not pretty enough… OK Karen.


I mean, there’s little to talk about regarding either mechanics or strategy when the User Interface and units are so atrocious the game become unreadable.


My experience playing the campaign went like this:

  • “Wow this is just like one of those history channel documentaries!”
  • “Oh right, I don’t actually like those.”

You telling me all those little blue squares with tiny unit silhouettes don’t look distinct enough for you?


I love documentaries. I just don’t care to watch a movie in a game. These are different artforms, and the Age of Empires franchise had already established ways to tell story. AoE4 definitely did things different, but for the worse in almost every way when it comes to Campaign.


This entire game reeks of a lack of vision. As though copying a 2 decade old formula would endear anyone to it. They could have even borrowed stuff from relic’s own games to make battles more dynamic like units hiding in half destroyed stone fortifications or units commandeering abandoned siege/artillery from the field. They could have employed relic’s cover system to protect units from projectile fire.

They could have done anything. But in this state it’s just mobs of units fighting other mobs of units. Usually the numerically superior one wins no strategy no tactics no thought.


That’s why I call it “Age of History Channel 4”…