Cavalry charge mechanics - hear me out

Like all of you, I closely watched all trailers and I have my share of concerns (like the cartoonish arrows) but most look like they are easily fixed without a ton of changes to the code so I’m not that worried, except for this:

Cavalry doesn’t simply stop dead when going full speed and facing other units. I understand that back in the day of the previous AOE games it was probably difficult to implement realistically, but it’s 2021 folks.

Did you ever play/remember the Battle for Middle Earth games? Cavalry charge mechanics and trample damage were modeled beautifully and that was back in 2004. Admittedly that game took the same liberties as the movies and the effect was over the top, but it can certainly be toned down to be more realistic.

Horses are not dumb and won’t naturally charge at infantry holding pointy things like swords or pikes, but what about fleeing archers or villagers? In the trailers I still see a scout simply standing there and swinging its sword at villagers and that’s awful.

In general, AOEIV could benefit a lot from copying a little bit of BfME games, especially when it comes to cavalry “feel”. In those games horses move their necks when turning, riders get thrown off their horses, there are specific animations when horses screech to a halt and this one is big: the rider acks, not the animal. You can argue that AOE does this to help you identify types of units, but riders can (and should) have their own specific lines (again BfME is a great example).

My fear is that it’s too late and the above requires a significant rewrite of the game engine to accommodate a fully new mechanic. I still play BfME a lot, mostly because the cavalry units are so satisfying to use. It was so ahead of its time in several aspects that are just getting included in AOE: it implemented the ability for units to hide in forests, context-specific unit formations (cavalry wedge, archer skirmish, pikemen porcupine, etc.), units could climb on top of walls to defend, etc.

I sincerely hope they have been tweaking this and it’ll be included in the final game.

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I think he issue with the cavalry suddenly stopping is similar to the elephants who also seem somewhat static and hit the air while attacking. There’s not good interaction with the animations

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While I totally agree with you, game is going to release in 6 months… They are not going to change anything, at this time they are busy testing with “pros” for balance changes …

BTW, battle for the middle earth is a superior game than age of empires IV on every aspect… Cavarly charge looks stupid.

The game engine they are using completely lacks physics.
Aoe3 had bodies flying all over the place after blast attack from cannons and granades.
It seems like Aoe4 is a major downgrade from aoe3 graphic -and physics wise

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That’s what I fear and it makes me sad. I play AOE II DE a lot and I hate when cavalry stops to attack and then chases again, rinse and repeat until the unit is killed. I give that game a pass because the engine is so old, but Relic has a great track record of nailing the realistic feel in strategy games (CoH) so let’s hope this is something in the pipeline at least. Not sure about the capabilities of this game engine. Westwood’s SAGE was indeed amazing.

An historical strategy game using SAGE 2.0? YES PLEASE!

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What? They are using coh2 engine, on coh you see units flying, soldiers Injured on ground, you see big explosions, and destructible environment, COh is the most physics intensive RTS out there and they are using the same engine, so no there is no excuse.

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i guess they are making the game bad on purpose…

The more I look at the videos already released, the more it feels to me like Microsoft asked Relic to play it safe and keep it as close to an AOE II sequel (homage? / AOE II:DE:3D?) as possible, which is: no radically new mechanics like cavalry charge, keep siege unmanned, keep the “2D sprite look” of units turning…

The problem with that mindset is that strategy games have evolved a lot since AOE II and besides more differentiated civs (something StarCraft, Supreme Commander, BfME, etc. have already done to exhaustion), there is nothing really shockingly new in existing AOE IV trailers that makes me want to throw money at my monitor instead of simply playing AOE II or other older strategy games.

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It also seemed like they were forced to release a video even tho they werent ready yet
You can see massive fps drops and stutters from time to time
Units vanishing and bugging out
Not sure who sets up deadlines and why
I would wait couple weeks more for a better presentation tbh.

I salute on you on the note. I wanted to creat a similar thread to flag this point out.

Yes, cavalry charge is highly important. In fact the entire physics of the game are of great importance. AoE 3 did not bring great variety like AoE2, but the in-game physics made battles feel great to fight and to watch and the entire game was quite cutting edge technological at the time of its release.

Microsoft should either delay the game until physics are fixed or re-call the game AoE2 remake! As this is not what we were looking for. Even Total War series is doing better in-game.

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About this, the Mongols had a way to dodge this issue. They would blind their horse using a cloth, or special eye patch, so the horses won’t lose speed or react. Instead, they take full speed, and charge into, causing chaos in the enemy ranks. Allowing cavalries that are pushing from their back to rush in and do significant damage without much struggle. This is why many shield walls didn’t work against the Mongol army. They simply were stampeded by horses or its body would crawl into with huge mass and break their ranks. Usually, the 1st wave would use unmanned and manned horses to take less casualty and navigate them to enemy shield walls with spears, etc.

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em, we could also later get new Age of Mythology

What I wonder, why not simply combine battle for middle earth gameplay mechanics, like squads and crushing, with base build of Age of Empires and add card system from AoE3? Microsoft has the team and money.

And if Microsoft wants an E-Sports game, Age of Mythology 2 would be probably the best solution.
-Squads of 10 units are very readable, better than make 1 unit big. As you see how much your unit does loose HP, its clear 4 dead soldiers are 40% lost of HP, by squad of 10 units, very casual friendly ^^
riders had squads of 5 units and big units like Ents were just 1 unit.

We could also add all the “E-sports and casual units” , like some huge ants for E-sport zerg rush, or some big dragons for casuals, that need simple and strong units.

I think Cavalry charge mechanics would better fit into Age of Mythology 2, as it could also be used for the monsters.

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I agree this would be a nice to have and would look cool and give cavalry a satisfying feeling when crashing into ranks of enemy units - but how would you balance this?

It brings in a whole new factor of weighting units and applying momentum to units - this wouldn’t only apply to cav but also infantry - heavy infantry would have a greater impact charging into light infantry for example.

Ultimately for this kind of mechanic to work properly I feel games which have squads/ regiments benefit from this kind of gameplay much more as there is actual mass within the squad/ regiment (Take total war games as an example) - in the Age of Empire games there really isn’t mass as units are controlled individually (unless you manage your armies moving around as a giant ball)

Would age of empires feel the same with this implemented? I don’t think so personally - if I want realistic/ simulated combat between armies I would go for total war games. If i want a rock-paper-scissors base management game then AOE is where its at.

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You just said what I was thinking.
Some people want Total War Mechanics that dont fit well in a RTS.

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Yea, it is more of a Total War thing (more impact and chaos xD).
For AOE, simplicity is the main thing; however, RTS games can use such mechanics if the community wants impactful battles.

“don’t fit well in an RTS” lol, RTS has games like dawn of war, company of heroes, BFTME etc… Even sc1-2 have powerful units like reaver-colosus… if we follow your logic we will have the most boring RTS ever.

BfME had no problems balancing this, admittedly in a fictional setting, but it’s definitely doable.

I wouldn’t go as far as to add mass to all units. There is simply a missing aspect for cavalry in AoE games which should account for the impact of cavalry on fleeing or very weak units (villagers, archers, monks, etc.).

In all past AoE games, a mounted unit will pursue, stop, attack (while the attacked unit keeps moving), resume pursuing, stop, attack… and it was likely a limitation of the times, but it’s dumb in a modern, historical-ish RTS.

Even a scout should be able to trample and one-hit-kill weak units without completely coming to a halt. A war horse is a dangerous and strong weapon in itself and AoE has never accounted for that fact. Heck, the scout himself might as well be completely unarmed.

I think you have highlighted my concern, that would be terribly overpowered if you could run in with a single scout and trample a whole load of villagers. The Scout has a very distinct role in AoE games, to scout for resources/ enemies and gain info on what an enemy is doing/ what kind of units they are building - based on this generally speaking the scout has an established role in the game and, at least early on, doesn’t have a dedicated influence in combat but can be used to harass through the utilization of micro.

In regards to your topic of seeing your cav stopping and attacking, chasing attacking, stopping etc - this is where micro comes into play in these kind of RTS games, you effectively kite units to get the mast damage output - in the scenario you metioned you take advantage of cavalry speed to get ahead of slower enemy units to surround/ get more attacks off.

The kind of realism you are after just doesn’t work in the AOE setting where individual units are singular entities and not made of a bulk force/ squad/ regiment where formations can be employed to at least counter cavalry and their superior speed/ impact.

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I can think of several ways to balance that scenario to avoid a single scout obliterating tens of villagers or archers:

  1. In BfME, cavalry gradually loses speed when charging. The more densely packed the attacked units (or the better prepared to counter cavalry), the greater the “braking” effect. If you want to charge again, you need room to pick up some speed. This is also a micro dynamic. If you don’t do anything and let your cavalry completely lose its momentum, they revert to attacking like in AoE, which is, horse is standing still while the rider is the one swinging his sword. In this situation some types of cavalry could receive a penalty, effectively balancing out the initial, relatively overpowered charge.

  2. Charging cavalry could receive damage proportional to the attacking strength of the unit being trampled. A dark age scout (no upgrades) might be able to kill 3 or 4 villagers before losing most of its health. This is similar to the amount of damage scouts can do in AoE II before being overpowered, but trampling would add a layer of realism not currently there. You can justify the realism of this as even villagers may carry a small knife and do some non lethal damage to the horse before being trampled to oblivion.

  3. Units with melee armor (or high hit points) would not be killed in one hit. They can still be trampled, fall to the ground, lose momentum and cause repeated damage to the mounted unit. But the mounted unit would behave more realistically, doing dynamic attacking “passes” instead of completely screeching to a halt.

I haven’t really put much thought into it, but using AOE II numbers I would implement something like 40 hit points of trample damage for a mounted unit going at full speed (a basic villager or archer killed in one shot). Every trampled unit would reduce cavalry speed in half and its damage also cut in half (20 hp for its next target, unless momentum is regained through micro: a simple timer or preferably distance traveled uninterrupted could work). Melee armor, counter-units, units in block formation, etc. would further reduce the initial 40 hp and/or speed penalties. If you let the mounted unit lose all of its momentum and attack while still, it would receive a melee damage penalty as the horse is now much too exposed.

This opens amazing opportunities for civ bonuses, like heavily armored cavalry not getting penalties or civs with husbandry or super fast horses having their charge damage increased, etc. You could also do one or two swipes with cavalry and finish the (now weakened) enemy off with archers or siege.

The more I write about and tweak this, the more I would love to see it in AOE IV.

well scouts are basically “scouts” but also raiders xD
So they should be able to kill a lot of villagers