English armors suggestions

Weeks ago I complained about the armors/equipments of the last images/videos being mostly historically inaccurate. I maintain this criticism but also qualify it: the devs actually did some research but for the Late Middle Ages only. The rest is really poor.
I add that 22 years ago, AoE II did a rather good job to this regard given all the limits of those times. Indeed, aside much clichés and fantasy, we could at least spot some historical elements here and there. Some units such as the Teutonic Knight were overally pretty good but there were also more subtle details like the evolution of the shields: kite shield in Feudal Age (Man-at-Arms), heater shield in Castle Age (Long Swordsman), late medieval shield in Imperial Age (Paladin).
In AoE IV, English (and the other European civ of the Norman campaign video) have some units based on late medieval fashions, but when it comes to earlier fashions the only accurate elements I spotted are kite shields and perhaps legwraps in Feudal Age and that’s it. Otherwise they get heater shield (late 12th to 15th century) right in the Dark Age (5th-10th century) while most of their equipments are mere clichés, let alone the Asian civs whose units often have 18th-19th century equipments (details of the anachronisms/flaws here). Given how easy getting informations is nowadays, I would have expected something better.

I am not asking for fully historically accurate equipments though, not needed nor suited to a game such as AoE IV. But I’d just like the armors to be at least historically inspired. If they did some research for the English fortifications, which are partly accurate, why couldn’t they do it for armors too? In a war-oriented medieval video game, armors are a major element which needs some love.
To this regard, AoE II DE new units are exemplary: while they are not historically accurate, they are heavily inspired by historical sources and thus came out pretty nice.

I was expecting something similar in AoE IV.

One argument I heard is that units have to be as readable as possible, which supposedly would not allow substantial historical inspiration/accuracy.
Really? I made a few quick sketches of possible English cavalry units designs just to prove that units can actually be mostly historically accurate while still perfectly readable.
These designs are based upon medieval fashions from Western Europe as a whole and could actually work for many other civs of this area (French, Scandinavians, Italians, etc.). Not all details are accurate but the general appearances always are. They come in two colors (blue and red) so as you can see how different they would look from a player to another.

I - Dark Age Scout

Basically a mounted West Germanic man. He wears a rectangular cloak over a wool trimmed-tunic while his braies are tightened with legwraps. His head is covered with a simple cap (a phrygian cap would probably be more accurate but many people might find it ridiculous). A typical Anglo-Saxon/Frankish sword hangs from a baldric worn on his shoulder. There is no stirrups no spurs and the horse’s tack is very simple.

II - Feudal Age Horseman

“Horseman”, “Knight”, whatever. This figure is mostly based upon 11th century sources such as the Bayeux Tapestry. The horse’s tack is plain again but now the horseman has stirrups and p.rick spurs (“pr ick” word is censored, sorry). He wears a short-sleeved hauberk with integrated mail coif over a simple tunic. His chest is reinforced by an additional mail piece. A conical spangenhelm with nasal protection completes his armor while a huge kite shield painted with typical 11th century pattern provides him a very good protection. His weapons consist in a simple lance and a sword (not visible on the drawing but I’d go for some Oakeshott’s type X with brazil-nut pommel).

III - Castle Age Knight

Typical mid-13th century knight as we can see in many artworks from that period. A full hauberk with integrated coif and mittens as well as mail chausses cover his whole body. Over the coif, a barrel helm with gilded reinforcement cross ; over the hauberk, a silk sleeveless surcoat. His long gilded sword (Oakeshott’s type XII) is knotted with a typical knightly sword belt made of white leather and the end of the scabbard is protected by a gilded shape. His coat-of-arms appears on both his triangular heater shield and his horse’s silk caparison as well as on the pennant of his white lance. His pr.ick spurs are gilded.

IV - Imperial Age Paladin

Basically a historical version of AoE II’s Paladin. The knight is protected by a mid-15th century full armor while his horse has his head protected by a chanfron extending on his neck. Colored feathers on a gilded mount decorate his frogmouth helm while heraldry appears again on the shield, pennant and silk caparison. The decorated lance is very long and its pennant has gold edging. The sword (Oakeshott’s type XVIII) has its pommel gilded and hangs from the waist in a typical 15th century way. A gilded shape completes the scabbard. The rowel spurs are gilded too.
With that helm and lance, it’s more of a jousting equipment though such might have been used in battles too at times.

Keep in mind that those sketches are only examples among countless possible designs.
By the way just changing some of their elements can already make them look drastically different, examples:

Here a totally different design possible for the Castle Age knight (imagine a horse with a caparison bearing the same coat-of-arms as on the shield):

Let’s discuss it

(btw sorry for the guys of the Teutons’ topic, I didn’t find time to answer all your points yet)


You give many examples of what you want to see, but you don’t contrast with what is actually in the aoe4 game. Honestly, I look at screen shots from the game play trailer for all the english soldiers - from foot soldiers to cavalry - and I see the exactly the same stuff in your drawings.

I notice this issue on your previous post too, You obviously want to take this discussion serious by how much work you’ve put into your drawings/diagrams. Why do you not compare them to what we’ve seen explicitly.

I for one am dubious about your claim that the units are not already historically accurate. The devs have already said that although each culture has same/similar units (spear/archer/light cav for example in feudal) they all have been dressed according to the culture whilst maintaining a similar 'look to be easily identified. - this is also visible when observing all the scouts in the gameplay trailer. compare the mongol scout to the english one for example.

I am fairly confident that plenty of research has been done to be historically accurate to the times. I think you need to give specific examples of things that are VERY wrong, and not just ‘this is not the most popular hat’

Here’s a pic of the english scout I google.
I think I can see stirrups on him, but they came to europe during the dark ages, so meh?, apart from the bow (he’s hunting the deer, and usually its a sword) its identical (or identical enough surely?) to your drawing. He even has the cloth hat. Sure he has higher leather boots rather than the leg wrappings you describe - is that horribly inaccurate? Were there no high boots?
I honestly can’t see your complaint here - is it the sleeping roll on the back of the horse? Is that a horribly inaccurate faux pa?


Its so close I’d be mistaken to think that you’ve simply drawn some fan art.

If you want to drive your point home i think you need to go through each example and explicitly say whats wrong with each unit, and why it is wrong. Because many of the units look perfectly historically accurate enough for me?


I actually really like your sketches. But I have to agree with CaptainMiguel that the differences between your scout sketch and the in-game model are negligible.
I don’t think we’ve had good footage of the other cavalry, but if your sketches translate well into the game, I’d be happy to see them.


You do put a lot of work in your suggestiosn, great :slight_smile:
However without the pics from the trailer as direct reference, it is harder to see or imagine what exactly the unhistorical issues are. (I am not asking you to also to this, it just would probably be easier than showing your suggestions in sketches :wink: )

From what I read it does seem like there are some inaccuracies in the state of the preview. The most obvious would be a wrong type of shield. Could you compare the “correct” one of the period to a one used?
I would like the game to be as accurate as possible, however I think devs do too (which it seems in your criticism, you doubt).

Now the question is IF there are historical inaccuracies- WHY? and I do believe that we see or will see each armor/attack upgrade visible on each unit/type.

So if the english for example get armor upgrades 1 ae early, I think its possible they will have a technology which fits a later age, visible on their model, an age early.

I generally am interested in historical accuracy of age games, but also curious as to why there are dispcrepancies (IF there are) :slight_smile:

Love your artstyle OP. You are generally correct in your thesis that it is not necessary to go overboard on small detail in order to stay historically plausible, and that plausibility can be achieved with a simple/clean art style. Your excellent art/poses are proof of this.

However, as other have pointed out, you haven’t shown us where AoE4 fails in this endeavor. As far as I can tell they are taking exactly the approach you are suggesting. Another comparison below with your art contra in-game units:


Norman Knight:

A quick note on historically wrong weapon/shield: as far as we know the looks of weapons/shields in AoE4 will not be set in stone for each unit, but will be dependent on blacksmith upgrades. This might explain screenshots where a given shield is out of era compared to the held weapon, etc; it may just be that the player in that game hadn’t upgraded the shield but did upgrade the weapon - and so on.


Ok guys, I qualified my post after carefully watching the videos, especially the Norman campaign one: the devs actually did some research but almost only for the Late Middle Ages. Aside the nice late medieval knight spotted by @GepardenKalle, there are three other remarkable European units, late medieval too:

On the left we can see knights on foot armed in what look like mid to late 15th century Italian armors (which were imported all across Europe) ; in the middle late 14th to early 15th century European knights with their typical bascinets ; on the right some infantry unit in mid to late 15th century armors again.
Also, I spotted an Indian helmet identical to a model widespread in 15th century Iranian artwork:

All these units/elements look very good, and I wish they put the same effort in most units.
Of course, such late medieval designs aren’t suited at all to the Norman era, but this is due to the game mechanics (the game reaches its max potential in Imperial Age which is based upon Late Middle Ages/Renaissance - a campaign struck in the Feudal Age would be boring gameplay-wise).

Edit: late medieval European ranged units aren’t bad either:

Unfortunately the rest is very poor except for one or two elements.

Let’s start with the Dark Age Scout, who, on contrary to what suggests the pic found by @CaptainMiguel isn’t accurate nor does it look like my sketch apart from the cap (that I also chose so as not to diverge too much from the devs’ design).

His equipment consists in a short tunic with a sleeveless surcoat put over, tight chausses with rather high boots, chaperon, cap, broad type XIV short sword, stirrups and a very modern-looking saddle. He also have long hair and a beardless face.
Stirrups can work as they were seemingly introduced in Europe around the 8th century (I didn’t include them in my design so as to highlight the low technology of the game’s Dark Age). Same for the cap which isn’t shocking.
But none of the other elements suit the European Dark Ages and many are mere clichés.
This unit could have made a good Imperial Age Scout though.

Dark Age Infantrymen now.

Basically the same outfit as the scout. Heater shield, type XII or XIV sword, tight chausses with shoes. Again, this has nothing to do with Dark Ages. Although quite inaccurate, it would suit Castle Age well with that High Middle Ages vibes.
It’s a pity because there are lots of cool designs possible for Anglo-Saxons.

Feudal Age cavalry (I presume):

This is really a wasted unit. Its elements are mostly accurate: short sleeved hauberk, very nice kite shield, simple spear and possible legwraps. The leather hood is probably inaccurate but still fits the period well.
Unfortunately, and probably for readability’s sake, they added that sort of colored half surcoat which, combined with the lack of conical helmet, totally ruins the “Hastings” vibes of the unit. A partly colored helmet like on one of my alternative sketches would have been a much better choice really.
Also, this unit attacks with the couched lance technique, which really become the norm a bit later. The Bayeux Tapestry often shows the spears brandished above shoulder - I would have kept this technique for the Feudal Age and left the couched lance for the Castle and Imperial ages to highlight technological evolution again.

William the Conqueror?
Visible in the Norman campaign video. It has nothing to do with the 11th century, fully late medieval look again.

Some clichés units:

While they aren’t shocking, there is little to no research behind. I like some of these designs though.

Castle Age units:

Not bad at all, but again… late medieval with such plate armors. Such designs should be limited to Imperial Age only. The sword is quite high medieval looking and as such suited to the Castle Age but I hate those long grips the knights’ have (and I doubt it’s an attempt to portray b.astard swords).

Indian infantry:
With their Kulah Khud helmets, shields and modern swords, they look straight out of the 18th-19th century.. Also I hate how thick the shield model is.

Finally I can’t really tell for Chinese and Mongols, not my field of expertise, but some forum users said they too got mostly 18th-19th century equipments.

So I would reformulate my criticism: early and high medieval era armors/equipments need some love too, all the more as they make up 3/4 of the game’s timeframe

Relevant note. However these anachronisms are a bit too extreme and I therefore doubt this mechanism explains them.
Another possibility is that the evolution in the game is actually merely technological despite the historical names of the game’s ages.


That happens to a lot of medieval games and games containing “middle ages”. The aesthetic design jumps right into high/late medieval or even early renaissance, but the true “dark age” or early medieval (round shields, normal-type helmets, etc.) were usually poorly represented. These are extremely interesting periods as well, and cover almost half of the “middle ages”.

Like if you want to reenact Charlemagne in AOE2, almost no unit has the look that fits the time period, besides a few unique units. The first heavy cavalry you get starts with a high medieval armour, and infantry has kite shields. It’s like having classic hoplites in the Trojan War or lorica segmentata in whichever Roman period. What a pity.


Yes, you should expect the game ‘Ages’ to be abstractions. For example I’m confident it will be possible to reach ‘Imperial Age’ during the Norman campaign for gameplay reasons.

This is the nature of this sort of game; it is not meant to portray four separate time periods realistically and independently; rather the four periods are condensed into a single match as a visual mechanism for upgrade progress - hence why we will be growing from ‘Feudal’ to ‘Imperial’ several times over in successive missions during a single historical campaign that from a history perspective maybe covers only about 70 years.

Add to that the fact that ‘factions’ in this game also are abstractions, and represent a collection of “greatest hits” from a given metaculture rather than seeking to realistically portray a particular time period or campaign. ‘Factions’ in an rts are like characters in a fighting game, they are not tools for a simulation.

Historical discrepancies are much more likely to be due to the reasons above, as opposed to a lack of research. Then there’s the blacksmith stuff, which should also not be forgotten, for example you lament that the Norman knight has a leather cap rather than a helmet - I can almost guarantee that cap will turn to a helmet once blacksmith upgrades are in play.


Simply not. If they use armor from distinct later centuries for practically all of the peoples presented, which do not fit into the bigger Middle ages period, clearly has to do with a lack of Research and not with historical discrepancies. The fact, that the whole thing affects a considerable part of the units, and not just individual ones, makes the whole thing even worse. In addition still it to come, that they use armor from other peoples and not from their own people. That is really a very bad quality of work, which has Relic in this regard. There is nothing to excuse.

As I said, this is on purpose. ‘Ages’ and ‘Factions’ are abstractions.

They don’t want the English to completely change cultural markers for every Age. That would just look silly because you’re jumping between so many ‘Ages’ every mission. So instead what they have done is they have unified English culture under a abstracted “greatest hit” umbrella and then used “Ages” to apply different technological stages to this abstract umbrella culture.

This is why so called “Dark Age” units share some similarities with “Imperial Age” units, and so on, because they’re designed to be a part the same unified abstract culture; just with different tech levels for each age. This way we avoid the whole “Pagan Saxons morph into the armies of Queen Elisabeth during the siege of Paris mission” issue.


Oh no, that can not be on purpose. No developer would be so silly. It is just silly for the developer, that there are people in the forum, who noticed these inaccuracies. I assume, that the responsible developers were too lazy, to do real research for the armaments. That will probably be the truth. And they will pay the price, if they leave it that way, for sure.

No, if they are already doing individual ages of the middle ages, they should also create the units for this age to some extent. There is nothing silly about that.

This has nothing to do with the fact, that the units use armor from different ages. You do not have to misrepresent facts.

They are creating units for each age, but the units have been adjusted to be culturally consistent with the abstracted umbrella culture they have made for each faction. This is the only smart way of doing it. Each and every faction, in all of their ages, should be able to generally represent all aspects of that faction; they should not lock them selves to a specific subculture for each age.

Which is to say: “The English” faction, in all of their ages, are made to represent the English generally at an abstract level. So that the faction and all it’s ages are applicable to all sorts of different scenarios. They are not made to specifically represent the Saxons in the Dark Age, or whatever, and thank god that is the case because it would end up being extremely limiting.

They aren’t using armor from different ages. All those things existed in the Dark Age. Just the overall “fashion” style didn’t, but then again that style didn’t truly exist in any specific period, because it is a made up abstract style to generally represent the English as a whole.


btw it also depends on which state of game development we saw. If it was early beta, its entirely possible that they USED the late medieval units for ages 1/2, but are working on creatig models for these ages as we speak. Maybe thats the case, or they will stay as the clichee ones, we will find out soon.

However thanks for the more detailed analysis, its much more understandable now what you mean :wink:

edit: I also doubt the devs didnt research and thats why the units are what they are. Its more likely that what panda states is true.

Ad far as i know, didnt the “Dark age” not even really exist as depicted in age 2?

Eh, there’s a bit of a academic debate over the word “dark age” and whether it refers to anything useful.

Age2 didn’t really ‘depict’ the Dark Age in any particular way that would be meaningful in any historical sense; it was really just the stage of the game where you were in the settlement phase, and then in “Feudal” you would become a town, and a city in “Castle”, etc.

The “Dark Age” myth that is definitely false is that after the fall of Rome everything stagnated and people were poor and had bad dental hygiene and were hyper religious, etc. All of that is completely debunked and not true at all. So this is the “Dark Age” that never really existed.

However, if you view “Dark Age” to be a period of decentralization in European history, where we have less historical insight due to fewer surviving institutional documents ( outside the Church ) compared to the periods that came before and after, basically taking “Dark” to mean a lack of strong continental institutions compared to Rome before and the Modern Empires after, then “Dark Ages” is a pretty apt name with some historical merit.


They are designing a video game not a 32-part documentary series of four distinct eras of eight different precise regimes. Age of Empires is inspired by history and rooted in history. But it is not a sim. It’s like looking at history through a funhouse mirror. Our civs are abstractions, as said so well above .


@AndyPXIII what has this “32-part documentary series” remark to do with my post really? My suggestions aren’t unreasonable at all here. I’m plenty aware of AoE spirit regarding history and that’s why I never asked for full historical accuracy.

Otherwise I’m also inclined to think that these discrepancies are at least partly due to what @GepardenKalle states. On another hand, it can’t explain the 18th-19th century elements of the Asian civs.
The game’s progression actually currently seems like a mix of technological and chronological. English architecture evolution clearly shows this latter: early medieval in Dark Ages, Romanesque in Feudal Age (well at least that landmark building to acceed is a (failed) Romanesque church) and then Gothic.
I wish things were clearer: either the progression is plainly technological or combined with a proper historical evolution. That latter would not necesarily need to be a perfectly accurate portrayal of each periods (which could make civilisations clunky indeed), it could be simply illustrated by a few details. Let’s take shields again for example: round in Dark Age, kite in Feudal Age, heater in Castle Age and tournament-like in Imperial Age - that would already be cool. Like @Erasmus11585, I think that some historical evolution adds depth to the game.

I couldn’t agree more. Apart from Vikings, Early Middle Ages are usually very neglected in medieval games. In AoE II, it was worsened by the fact that the game started to get serious only in the Castle Age, which was to some extent linked with the High Middle Ages.
To avoid this imbalance, I had fun imagining more ages to the game, which would thus has a complete gameplay at a much earlier era. For example:

  • I - Dark Age - same barely historical age as in AoE II, just a low technological phase that you want to escape as quick as possible
  • II - Barbarian Age, c. 450 - c. 750 - Germanic invasions and subsequent birth of Western European kingdoms, Islamic conquest, etc. Equivalent of AoE II Feudal Age in terms of playability.
  • III - Revival Age, c. 750 - c. 1000 - Charlemagne’s era, Islamic Golden Age with Baghdad, Cordoba & co, Viking invasions, etc. At that point the game would already have a deep gameplay.
  • IV - Feudal Age, c. 1000 - c. 1175 - Norman era, beginning of the Crusades and Reconquista, apparition of stone castles in Western Europe, etc.
  • V - Castle Age, c. 1175 - c. 1350 - empowerment of centralized kingdoms in the West, rise of Gothic architecture, first cannons, etc.
  • VI - “Royal Age”, c. 1350 - c. 1450 - bad name which would be more approriated to the previous age but I have no idea for this ■■■■■■ period cursed with Great Plague, Hundred Years War, etc. Rise of the Ottomans, apparition of serious cannons, pinnacle of fortification in France (maybe Castle Age would actually suit the period…), etc.
  • VII - Imperial Age, c. 1450 - c. 1520 - Fall of Al-Andalus and Byzantium, Italian Wars, Renaissance, beginning of the European colonization in the Americas, etc.

That way most periods would be fully playable. It probably has a lot of flaws gameplay-wise though.

Let my Elizabethan Pagan Saxons fight Roosevelt’s army in front of 2nd century BC Alexandria you kill-joy.


I was not responding directly to your post but to the related discussion.


Earlier AOE games seem to incline more towards the “technological” side, or more accurately the “advances in development level”, rather than “chronological”. That’s why you do not have heavy cavalry in the “Dark age” or “Feudal age”.
Some units clearly have a chronological progression in their looks (like AOE1 swordsman, AOE2 knight, AOE3 musketeer), some units only appear in later chronological ages (AOE2 gunpowder, AOE3 Gatling gun), but many others do not (where they simply got “heavier” or more decorated). So the “ages” feels more static than actual chronological ages.
Because of that, the AOE2 “dark age” unit/building roster feels more like “a very poor/backward settlement in the high middle ages where they could only summon club boys” rather than “an actual period in history where there were only club boys” (that would be nothing else than prehistory).

I thought they were trying to address this in AOE4 because they are adding much more units in the “dark age”, but the aesthetics looks still high medieval at present. I’d really like to see more round shields, Norman helmets, etc. in the unit designs.

In AOE2 you already have Frank throwing axemen in Hundred Years War and I do not doubt something similar will happen in AOE4.
One can try to avoid that in the design of generic units, but whenever you add anything civ-specific, you’re surely to bump into severe anachronism.


Absolutely, but the goal isn’t to avoid specific anachronisms (like wrong unit in wrong historical context, etc), instead the goal is to avoid inconsistent progression within the match itself. So a faction building from ‘dark’ to ‘imperial’ should plausibly appear to be the same city/culture throughout, and not appear to radically change cultural identity with every age up.

AoE2 ages were about 60% just infrastructure level and 40% chronological development; all rolled into the same “made up” abstracted culture to keep things internally consistent within each match. This was very deliberate, and a stark contrast to similar games like “Empires: Dawn of the Modern World” which leaned much more heavily into chronological and cultural differences for each age, and felt very internally inconsistent within each match as a result.

AoE4 is clearly taking the same general approach as AoE2. However it does lean more into the chronological part than AoE2 did (evolving language, etc), and it also strays from abstractions by trying to have more specific detail in some areas (units, political faction names, etc); this may end up backfiring in an ‘uncanny valley’ sort of way because it isn’t being as explicit about it’s intentions of abstraction compared to AoE2, its possible AoE4 is trying to have it’s cake and eat it too - but the jury is still out on the overall result here.


thanks for the clarification :slight_smile:
So basically thats anothe rreason of why the units in age will never be completely historcially accurate.

However I still think some of @PalumbusRex ideas could very well still be included in the current state of the game. maybe some of them already are.

I doubt we weill have historically mostly accurate game inc all the models. I think maybe they are still working in some.
But (and thats pure speculation) i think the evolution of units and armor within the times will still be depicted by the blacksmith, and depending on when you get these upgrades, it will be possible to get for example the kite shield already one “age” earlier - because as said, the ages are not really to be seen as a precise point in cultural history, but more of a generalized sign of (time and cultural) progress