Concept for Naval Rework

Hi! After having made a thread on reddit and read the feedback onto what people dislike about Navy gameplay in general.
I decided to invest a little time into drafting up a concept of how AOE4 Navy can be reworked and made much more interesting, yet still trying to keep it somewhat familiar to navy.

From what I seem to understand why people dislike navy, looking away from the rather lackluster shallow state AOE4 navy is at.

So from what I’ve gathered, there is a couple of points that needs to be added to the water game:

  • More ship diversity

  • More content into the water (i.e water is just well… Water, there very little content within it besides you fish and occasional kelp forest)

  • Reduce the intensity of ship-to-ship combat. (i.e, a few demo ships can quickly turn the game in the blink of an eye if you have to pay attention to somewhere else briefly).

  • Reduce multitasking between land and sea (i.e managing a navy army at one end, and land army at another)

  • Better integration between land and sea. (i.e Navy becomes a big inactive pop waste once you wrestled controll of the sea)

Now my idea is to try to alleviate some of these problems.
By adding more content into the water itself, in the form of terrain features, resources, etc.
But as well as reducing the “combat” intensity by introducing “melee” in water.
While Demo-ships are still a thing, they fill more the role of siege rather than a core-counter unit. And thus moved later into the game.
And having ships that serve very little purpose, such as Transport ships, giving them a more supportive role and viable option, even the fishing ships are able to do more stuff than just economy, with the idea behind it being that Villagers on land, even though they are an econ unit, they can still do many things besides eco. (Construction, and even Fighting back.)
Boosting defensive structures, such as keeps and making walls viable coastal fortification, will help the player to be able to focus more on land without worrying and being unable to react in time over a fleet that demolishes their shoreline in the blink of an instant. It also helps give some limited map control by the use of fortifying strategic islands to prevent enemy fleets from simply ignoring and passing by them easily.

I do acknowledge that many people dislike the Navy simply due to having to learn new Build orders, but tbh, I find that an excuse that falls into the category of what a good friend of mine always keeps telling me when I’m having a bad day; Skill issue.

So here is the concept that I drafted. (Sry for the simple MS paint stuff hah)

Please come with your criticism and point out things that you find problematic, or should be changed.
My hope is that the Community can come together and build a Naval Idea that will help bring less hatred towards the water maps and hopefully grow the Navy-enthusiast base larger.
If there is any questions or stuff that is hard to understand, please do ask!

This idea is also open for anyone to make their own idea out of it, do not be ashamed to outright “steal” it, and make your own improved version of it!


One thing i forgot to add is formation.
Currently, Navy gameplay does not even have Formations.

Formations becomes increasingly important if you want a more in-depth naval gameplay, and the way units functions, in roder to optimise your attacks for the current Navy set up you have.

But those are nothing old, and if I’m not mistaken, AoE2 has the same formations for ships that it does for land units.

So formations should be introduced for navy:

Vertical Line Formation (Ideal for formation where the ship with longest view range takes lead, followed up by the strongest range ship, then followed by melee ships, and arrow / transport ships in the furthest back)

Horizontal Line formation. (Function same way as Land unit line formation)

Box Formation. (Function where the strongest units takes the outside of the box formation, while weaker unit, such as transport and fishing ships takes the center.)

Split Formation. (Splits the fleet into 2 groups that moved parallel to each other, ideal to maximise damage against a line of enemies, or outflanking them with faster ships.)

Thank you, what a wonderful concept to bring fun to water maps, and to encourage scouting on water map (maybe we neeed ship that kinda act like a scout, as it is now treasure etc)

And how about adding another pop count exclusive ,for ship, as massing cannon ship and springalds with wonder on sacred victory is super hard to counter, especially with chinese play that have strongest baochad and greatwall gatehouse, even if we managed to succesfully land, it is often that our lands unit didn’t enough to defeat all the defensive on the island, or often by the time we land, there is not enough time to cancel the victory (because it take so long to defeat ememy ship, then enemy shoreline defense, then we land (with most population already filled with starting bombard ship, where the enemy always have production on the island) then we need to defeat the remaining defense, then we take back the sacred site or destroy the wonder. If we split the pop space it is possible to have enough land units to fight once we land

One thing to note also that chinese baochuan become strongest naval unit per population once chinese player got imperial age, #### ############### Ming Bonus Health), so maybe rework another civ’s unique naval tech, maybe abbasid give 15% health, and ottoman imperial fleet give GB emplacement?

1 Like

This is an extraordinary concept and rework suggestion, congrats! It opens up a lot of possibilities for civs centering on naval superiority, and even to those that didn’t develop large ships, offering them the possibility to center on countering them with those new concepts introduced.

1 Like

I really love this, it’s quite creative. At the very least I believe some simple concepts like the boarding ship replacing the demo ship as a torch-throwing melee ship should be no brainers to implement. However, while these changes undeniably would make water maps more fun to watch at a professional level, I unfortunately don’t think ANY changes would make them more popular to play at an ‘average’ level. Consider that most people in Gold/Plat still veto or ignore water on maps where you’re unlikely to be pushed by enemy ships, such as 4 lakes variety and Ancient Spires. And this won’t change as long as the primary focus of the game remains on land (which it will because of TC/landmarks). However, for those of us who do like water, I have the following to add:

  • I’m not sure about having Archer ships in Dark age. It could make water snowball even harder than before and basically finish games 5 minutes in.
  • More important than ship diversity is how they are modeled. TBH ships inherently have the problem that they all kinda look the same and it’s hard to make them stand out. If you look at the Rome Ad Bellum mod for AOE2, which has like 10 ship types, it’s just completely un-scalable since as soon as you have a larger number of ships they all blend in together.
  • The map hazards also have the ability to screw people over. Furthermore, I think fishing ships should be able to travel over shallow water/reefs without damage. That could be a way to keep fishing eco more safe

Beautiful idea, but such a huge refactoring effort takes a lot of time and effort to complete.
However, there is no denying that it is a brilliant idea to improve the rigid status quo of naval warfare systems and greatly add to the fun.
I just hope I live to see this day in good health.

1 Like

i think to your maybe more talented than some naval DEV on AOE 4 dude …

My most hated thing about water is how water looks , so plain. Boats are fine tho.

Yes we need this

I personal,y would like to see a middle ground from aoe3 and aoe2

Ooof, this is a hard truth that always makes my me and my ancestor soul’s ache.

I mean, it depends, remember, Fishing ships do have access to “Melee”, and in numbers would be able to easily bring down a lone or maybe even two Arrow ships by themselves, consider the speed of fishing ships to. So fighting close do your docks would be advantageous as you have the natural Defenders advantage.

And then you got Dheli, those I would be most concerned about when it comes to water balance xD

But when you think about it, coming out with Dark age fishing ships are risky, they leave you “1 eco unit” behind, cost you a fair amount of early resources, definitely slows your age up.
Natural counter to a very early arrow ship harassment is to do the same as early english MAA harassment, simply ignore it, gather the resource you need quickly, and age up.
Get defensive emplacement, in this case, the Dock, and there not much the opponent can do. You now have the naval advantage as you can get the counter-ship and start pushing them in return.

I mean, it’s hard to say, it can go either way, depending on map, spawn, all that like usual.

I agree to this, that making sure that ships stand out and are well modeled are important.
I personally don’t have much issue currently identifying ships but that might be because I’m pretty used to quickly identifying different vessels.
But I agree it can be hard and chaotic at times when things pile up.

But some of the models are very nice, I mean the Ottoman Cannon ship is my personal favorite so far.
As well as the Baglah.

Well that is kinda the point with map hazards :stuck_out_tongue: They kinda act like the wild animals in this game. There can be some rules set that say, there is always -Guarantee- spots along the shore that is free from hazards. And that closest Hazard spawns X amount away from the player starting position. Kinda the same way how wild animals spawns. You never get a board under your TC or a Wolf hidden among your first sheep lol.

Allowing fishing ships to travel over shoals/reefs without damage is a idea I can support. I did have this in mind, but a bit afraid it can be a bit abusive. It’s something that needs to be tried and tested before I would be able to make my mind up about it.

I think all the extra complication will make water less popular, not more. I’d definitely ditch the double healthbar types.

I have wanted a melee ship other than the demo. I agree with moving the demo to castle age. For the melee ship I would just add a feudal age upgrade that gives transports a “melee” boarding attack.

I think we should probably maintain the no combat ships in dark age, otherwise we risk an even stronger water snowball.

An anti water land upgrade could be good, kind of like heated shot in AoE2, however I think transports in general should take less damage from land units/buildings than other ships, that way landings are more likely. Give them high armor (more than demos have now), but have archer ships do significant bonus damage to them.

Some of the water issues can be fixed through map design. Some maps just have way too many deep fish so a water win gives way too big of an advantage. The problem with adding gold sources and things to the water is it makes that issue worse.

I do think there needs to be a option for dark age aggression viable, or won’t mimic how land is performed either.
while i know its common to turbo past the dark age, all civs has access to spearmen if not more units in dark age. And it does have an impact on econ.

But I guess with melee capability for transport ships, you might be able to harass some early eco.
Or perhaps even be able to upgrade the Dock’s emplacement on Outposts, that way you could make some early outposts to cover econ, especially if you have some strategically viable islands that covers the approach for any potential enemie fleet.

Anything to help against feudal snowballing.

The double healthbar, sure, there could be a way to go without it, without changing up how the overall design is.
But personally I added it there because it simulates Naval combat just much better, and allows for the whole Ship conversion thing (Which was also very common, Capturing ships whenever possible is always prioritised because they are so highly priced and requires so much time and resources to make IRL)