I have already finished around 60% of campaigns available in AoE II DE. All on hard.
During my gameplay i have realized that there is a pattern among scenarios and you can divide into groups. What i have also noticed is that i don’t like some of those types and i know why.
Castle Age siege - basicly it is siege with rams to destroy heavy fortified enemys base. What i don’t like is this requires a lot of unit spam, since enemy has constant production of units in base, and player is allowed to use only rams to destroy base. Boring
RPGs - The only way to win those kind of maps is to play exactly as was predicted by designer. There are always some Gaia units to recover, some spots to avoid and some quests to do. Playing without knowing map is frustrating.
Very high pressure - usually opponents are one age up than player and we are forced to boom or rush. I like pressure maps, but not when only winning option is to play exactly as foreseen by devs.
Spam fest - some maps only way to win is to spam units faster than ridiculously well developed enemy. It is boring.
You may say that the older scenarios can be worse, but i would say no. I have played campaigns from each DLC (from age of kings to lords of west) and i see this pattern to be in use all the time.
I understand that scenarios should be unique and chalenging, however i don’t think that doing that through boring/frustrating gameplay is what we need.
Do you have simmilar feelings regarding campaigns?
I think it depends on what Campaigns you mean. In my opinion the Lords of the West campaigns have been really well done, and well worth the DLC price. The narration is good, there is a good variety of objectives (sneak, capture, defend, bribe, etc.), good variety of different enemies, maps are well designed and you get to make good use of the civ bonuses of all the civs in the campaigns.
The real question is what else can you do with an rts to create a campaign? I enjoy the narration of the campaigns. Some are super difficult like 3rd Montezuma or the Korean wonderer defense. Ridiculously hard to me. At the end of the day you can see effort put in to make each scenario seem different and challenging. Have you felt like you were repeating a similar scenario? The second longshanks seemed different then 3rd joan of ark which felt different the 2nd montezuma or the viking mission.
Interesting points. The thing that has bothered me with campaigns, and I haven’t played a ton of them, to be honest… but it’s that it always feels like the enemy is just sitting idle in the shadows, or on their colored dots, waiting for me to trigger them with an action or by getting close to them.
Feels very scripted, gamey, and linear. I wish it felt more I was in a living, breathing, realistic, organic world. Like the enemy lived in that world and went about their business in that world whether me, the gamer, was there or not… and then adapted itself in an organic way based on learning of my presence or whatever. It’s so scripted and linear, with heavy reliance on trigger points and trigger times happening, that the immersion is lost with me a bit. Okay, quite a bit
I don’t know what the solution would be without a lot more thought. It may not even be possible/realistic to do the things that’d be needed to make it feel more ‘real’ in the engine to me, but I’m hoping AoE4 solves some of the critiques I and we have with campaigns to make them better.
I think one thing that would help campaigns would be to allow for non-square maps. I know the author can shape the map how they want within the square, but if they weren’t constrained by a square and the visual representation to the player of the map wasn’t a square, I think they’d feel more believable and less gamey to me. In Diablo, if any time you ventured into a dungeon your mini-map just showed a square that you were filling in, it’d ruin the immersion quite a bit, imo. That’s just a quick analogy, but hopefully it makes sense what I’m trying to say. Basically, the area is unexplored… I should not know where the edge of the map is and approximate locations within that square of enemy positions; or if I’m near (or they’re near) the ‘edge’ of the game world, I shouldn’t have that displayed to me by way of a square map and my position beacon in that square.
I still enjoy them when I play them, but always wish they were less scripted and such.
I think the AI is less active than what it could be just because in so much scenarios you have a weak start while the enemy has a strong one. And it often makes a lot of sense to put it this way. Like let’s take Manzikert. It does make a lot of sense that you all you have is an army that rely on forcing the enemy to pay you in order to sustain itself. But the AI can’t be acting like what a real person would do in this situation (ie.everyone pulls out their army to go kill the player minute 1) because else the scenario would be pretty much unbeatable. So they have to be campy. I did choose Manzikert because the scenario does a give a reason for that in the outro. In this case, that the Byzantine were divided and busy backstabbing each other. It’s probs a similar reason in others scenarios, +the fact that irl commanders wouldn’t have perfect knowledge of the enemy forces, and replacing losses was ofc much harder than in AoE so people wouldn’t just try and recklessly push an advantage.
Ok, maybe i will give some examples of what i liked and what don’t.
Campaigns i liked are for example Indian and Inca. Both are not easy, force player to react to constant threat from AI side, but are doing this not through boring gameplay, but good weight between mission goal and specific computer behavior. Also features some challanges, like fight with tiger.
Campaign i dont like is for example Berber. First mission is castle age siege against well fortified opponent which spams its units constantly. To win you basicly need to have more arrows than your opponent soldiers. Fourth mission is micromanaging of an army and fifth is hard to win if you won’t lure palladins out of players base. In both scenarios knowing how exactly you have to play is key to winning. In my opinion this is poor design.
I see that devs have problems with difficulty level. Sometimes it is hard because it is challenging, but sometimes it is hard because you don’t know designed way of play.