Naval has been crap in every AOE game. This is no secret, only literal crazy people who want to be gods of island maps even bother to learn it beyond basics.
What’s concerning to me though is that AOEIV’s naval seems to be going massively indepth in how the boats all work, instead of leaning into the communities avoidance for naval.
AOE2 has the best of the worst naval and it’s because the original team paired down their highly ambitious scope for navies into a simple setup of water being a water version of their land balancing.
-Water Villagers (Fishing ships)
-Water Trade Carts (Trade Cogs)
-Water Archers (Galleon)
-Water Melee (Fire Ships)
-Water Siege (Cannon Galleon)
-Water Petard (Demoship)
-And Transport Ships, the single unique element to water
It’s certainly not a historic naval nerds wet dream to watch boats behave like archers. But as far as playability goes it’s unmatched in the series. Everything has a clear role that even an incredible novice and look at and understand and it’s easy to control and micro, with the only real hurdle in control compared to land units is that boats derp out on obstacles more often.
Meanwhile you have the unmitigated disaster that is AOE3’s naval combat.
It’s certainly more fun to watch play out. But as far as clear divided roles, microing, and general playability go it’s some of the worst in the entire genre, not just series.
-Boats have zero clear roles in how they all interact, what does the boat with the cannon ability do in a game vs the smaller boat or the boat that can train units?
-Boats turning sideways once they are in range of a target for cannon volleys makes microing impossible, boats will often get stuck trying to turn for the duration of a naval battle, and simply backing up slightly causes the ship to need to do it all over again.
-Sheer number of unique naval units stacked on top of an already messy naval system of mechanics renders it truly impossible to understand without reading an extensive guide online, zero intuitive design at all, a massive deterrent for fans of the series and new comers alike (In contrast to the unique water units of AOE2, the longship, which is simply Longship>All Boats offensively and the Turtle Ship which is Turtle Ship>All Boats defensively, Caravels which are like an AOE Galleon, and Harbors which are just defensible locations for your fishing ships, all very straight forward and fit into the above balancing scheme just fine)
Bringing me to my point, I’m seeing a lot of…excruciating detail put into the ship combat of AOEIV.
-I’m seeing a mix of arrow ships and side firing ships
-Side firing ships of various different sizes
-Some sort of cone based aiming mechanic for side firing ships as well as firing from both sides?
-Wildly different ships for each civ, although this could be a skin, it still hurts readability heavily
-I cannot tell what I am looking at in the slightest, the arrow ships and side firing ships are both firing on the building? Is one not siege oriented? Are the cannons or the arrows better at dealing with ships?? Nothing seems intuitive at all whereas I can figure out what I’m looking at with the games land battle screenshots and footage.
Devs. You clearly understand that playability>>>historical accuracy or you would have the siege manned and their animations take ages and be virtually impossible to micro like AOE3. By going deeper and deeper into mechanical depth with water battles you are simply going to make them worse and worse to play, scaring off new players and series vets alike. Honestly even if you need to make bolts fire from the center of boats AOE2 style, it’d be preferable to what I’m seeing now.
Also sorry but I am not sorry to all the sensitive AOE3 fans who will kvetch that their fav is the example of how not to do an Age game. It’s a fine enough strategy game, but it’s a crap Age game.