Unlike the original campaign videos which has high quality filmed videos on the spot with artists performing, the DLC contains very cheap animations. I call it animations, it is not even that. All it contains is “some pictures moving”, it is more of a slide show. And who knows those pictures might just be AI made with templates then blended to match artstyle of the game with blue background. There used to be additional educational videos, like about the yam network, bow making, castle paints etc in original campaign. The DLC Campaign contains no such extras. It is just intro outro slide shows.
I think the issue fundamentally is similar to what happened to Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. IMO, it is the best multiplayer RTS game to ever be conceived, but it had a crippling problem.
That being, the game and designers were entirely invested in multiplayer. In other words, campaign was an afterthought. And while AoE4 is in a similar boat today, back then; there was a crave and expectation for Campaign–hell, it was the reason people bought RTS games.
The market has shifted since then. While there are lots of people who enjoy RTS games for their singleplayer experience, there are a lot more specific alternatives. RTS games today that feature good singleplayer experiences tend to be mostly singleplayer in design, and that is where those players have flocked to.
Then there is the other subset of players, who have been roaming purgatory in search for another competitive SC-like RTS. Those players are on the otherhand fine with what has been delivered in AoE4. In fact, I would be surprised if most have even done half the campaign. Honestly, I find it surprising that a game like Crossfire: Legion has more production value in its campaign than a game like AoE4–whole maps are actually built with campaign specific assets, biomes, buildings, to make the scenes look like, a real and actual place.
So yea, I want to say I agree with you. I think they are clearly capable of making a better singleplayer experience, if they wanted to. They simply don’t. I think it is unfortunate that this is the direction the AoE franchise has gone in. But, it is what it is.
I prefer the presentation of the original campaigns, but Sultans apparently has more engaging mission design (I haven’t gotten to it yet).
The original campaign presentation never seemed that popular, which is a shame to me and possibly a factor in why attention was refocused in this latest campaign. Who knows.
What I do know is a lot of actual AoE franchise fans prefer the new campaign, even with the animated cutscene style. I’ve even seen people who prefer the animated style (being more in-keeping with the now-retro aesthetics of older games).
My opinion has always seemed to be in the minority. Always good to see more folks who prefer the presentation of the original campaigns in IV (separate to the content). But no doubt it was likely a severe investment, and it probably didn’t land the way they wanted it to.
Yes, besides the fact that documentary videos are very expensive and they decided to return to cinematics like those in AoE 2…