AOE4 naval makes me nervous

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.
You have:
-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.


Aoe 4 seems leaning towards aoe2 naval, the only exception being that there is a ship that has a special multi shot ability, and that the archer ship shoots from its side, also worth noting the ship with the special ability uses gunpowder, meaning it’s probably an age 4 only ship.

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I don’t understand the point in having side cones when ships insta turn on themselves…

Probably just because it looks better and more realistic. There isn’t much of a gameplay aspect to it.

Nice analysis of AoE3’s water gameplay, I totally agree.

And while I can see why you’d be worried that the same is in AoE4 right now, I dont think that is entirely the case. And that is because I have also played Company of Heroes a lot and see where Relic is coming from with those ideas we see in the naval video.
So my interpretation from what we could all see is that heavy ships (the ones with cannons) will be in small number in a battle, similarly to a King Tiger in CoH, and will need to be protected with regular easier to micro ships firing arrows, but will be the deciding element of a push in a battle. So the heavy ships will be more like a land siege weapon which you need to setup and protect and keep behind, and the firing arc is clearly something from CoH that also helps distinguish it from other ships, and outline its importance.
So to recap, we still have the arrow firing ships easy to micro but big in number, but also a proper siege element to water combat to break the water gameplay monotony, harder to micro but in very low numbers. I think that is the very element that might improve water gameplay by opening up interesting posibilities without overcomplicating it. Also, fish regenerates which makes water more important to fight for.


I like your assessment, I think it could go well if it’s like that. I am still confused about seeing several cannon ships of at least two different sizes in the gameplay. Hoping everything has very delineated roles.

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It effects gameplay imo the way I see it


Or maybe after a few hours you’ll be able to recognize and differentiate ships from civ to civ, you know, learning the game, like we’ve been doing all our gamer life. Why is this game trying so hard to be “readable” without having to learn it first?


This problem is probably the main problem of this genre and why it has disappeared more and more from the market … the new generation of gamers want to be able to do everything the same without doing anything.


Age of mythology has better water than aoe2.


A true strategy game (Which AOE aims to be), will have naval, naval was one of the most important forms of combat especially in the time period the game is in (mostly from the 11th to the 16th century(?)).

They have to keep trying to get it right, at worst there will be maps without naval combat, and that’s fine, but at least they should try to have it be relevant somehow by improving what can be improved.

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This all has a simple solution in my mind

Make all ships able to attack whilst moving.

Arrow ships attack forwards - they’re great at chasing enemies down, whilst dealing damage.

Side-cannon ships attack left and right, they’re great at breaking through enemy ship formations to get to the other side, protecting transports whilst doing a landing. (Also allows great micro and going around an enemy ship (so they miss their shots without ballistics equivalent) whilst your side shooting ship keeps doing damage)

Also some sort of tanky fortress ship, that has many angles of attack, including behind it, flagship-like deal that other ships can retreat to, or its just damn expensive and worth having around even when stationary.

Finally, bring back melee fireships, high armour, shoot fire, and they explode when deleted (not destroyed).

Boom, so long as all the ships can attack automatically whilst moving, you have some solid and fun sounding gameplay in there… obviously you can right click a single target too if you really want it.

Thats my two cents,

It probably makes retreating/regrouping/tactically repositioning easier.

In AoE2, with front firing ships, the ships that are retreating need to do a 180 degree turn, then run away, then do another 180 degree turn to start firing again. The pursuing ships need to do no turns, and can use the extra time to get damage in. In a game with side firing ships both sides need to make two 90 degree turns.

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I also think that the ships are more accurate the closer they are to the enemy. You can notice that the arcs get wider the farther they go

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Fireships will probably be a byzantine ship when their DLC comes out.


when you speak about fireships, I don’t think about the byzantine ship, but about these ship filled with combustible than you throw on bigger ship, which was a common tactic, so it will be maybe in the game :stuck_out_tongue:

Byzantine will probably get some dromon with firethrower as unique unit, because it was really singular, and not shared by other civ. But some muslim dynasty had some navy with soldiers throwing grenade of greek fire (or greek fire lookalike)

Yes, it is curious that the real fire ships in AoE 2 are called demolition ships.

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