Historical Accuracy

There seems to be a misconception that us history nerds are upset because AoE 4 is not a history simulator.
I’m not that upset when some gameplay mechanics, civ representation, unit equipment etc. is not 100% historically accurate.
Naming the Romans in game the Byzantines is a little upsetting but not a hill I want to die on, however I am very upset about names for the variant civs they seem to be in direct opposition to the purported vision of the whole age of empires franchise.


First of all, regarding them calling them the Byzantines instead of the Eastern Roman Empire is maybe not 100% historical accurate but close enough.

Secondly, the new names for these variant civilizations are indeed bad and doesn’t hold the same standard as all other previous civilizations, and thus creates a disconnection for us that do care about this. After all this is Age of Empires, and they have done a great job respecting history up until now. I don’t see a reason to start changing this…


I’m gonna be more upset if the campaign tries to push the narrative that the European crusaders were evil and attacked without provocation and that the Muslims were innocent and just trying to protect their homeland, which, based on the trailer, seems to be the case.

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I don’t think there’s any reason to think that, though I will me pretty annoyed as well if that’s the case. I mean the crusaders did sack civilian cities though, so depictions of people running in fear is not that far off. So far there are three campaigns from a European perspective, and zero from a Middle Easter perspective. So of course, from their point of view, they probably considered Europeans the bad guys. Europeans had valid reasons for starting the crusades and ultimately it was a very nuanced period of history. Probably should just wait and see before making a judgement.


“The game is not a history simulator” is an easy strawman people like using despite no one asked for a historical simulator.

The unique vibe of AOE series is playing with something that really existed in history. There is tolerance for some higher-level abstraction, or necessary tweaks, or oversights. But all previous games tried to do their best on that respect. More historical authenticity is always is always better than less.

All updates to the older games are in the direction of improving it and none ever reverted it. Can you imagine them merging all the Indian subcontinent civs in AOE2 back to one “Indian” civ that speaks modern Hindi? Or revert the French cuirassier in AOE3 to the older German uniform?

People still have disagreements on what level of abstraction is accepted (you can easily pull off a strawman from it too), but the fundamentals are the same: they want to make the game feel as historical as possible. For example there were arguments when some civs (Romans in AOE2, US/Mexicans in AOE3) overlap too little with the game’s timeframe. But regardless of thinking they should be in the game or not, all would agree those at least look better than The Legion of Purple Dye, George Washington, or The Band of Amigos.

But no. “It’s a game. You are playing Chinese versus Malians in France so you should not ask for historical accuracy at all.


Sultan’s Army, Ok there were Sultans and they probably had an army
Jeane d’Arc, She was a person and lead troops
Order of the Dragon, was a thing I suppose

Empire of Jade. I gave the National Archives a quick glance through. 5000 years 83 Dynasties and 559 Emperors and I can tell we ain’t got no Empire of Jade.


I mean no matter what you name them someone will be upset. It’s historically accurate in that it’s the name historians call them. Sure they called themselves Romans and so did the neighbouring Arab countries, however most European countries called them Greeks. Calling them Romans or Greeks would also arguably be equally inaccurate and not specific.

If you argue for this, should we call all the crusader nations Franks, after all that’s what the Muslim states called them.

Heck if you go by names people called themselves, most people didn’t have a nationality that identified themselves. Most people in the HRE would not identify themselves as Germans for example.

I’m seeing the variant civs as experimental civ designs for the purpose of the game, not as much for historical representation. They still have a foundation in history but seem to be more about expanding game mechanics and systems, which is why they’re distinct from standard civs (like the Byzantines and Japanese). I think it might be helpful for the devs to emphasize this point better, assuming that I’m interpreting it correctly. Even then, I thought they explained it pretty well in the announcement today; they made it clear that the variant civs are meant to create new systems based on things they notice from gameplay and from the RTS genre, not things from history per se.

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Can you expand on this a bit more? What would you say is the purported vision of the franchise, and how do the variant civ names directly oppose it? What criticism can be levied against the new variant civ names that every other civ introduced to date is immune from? I’m not being rhetorical, I’d like to understand the problem, but I wasn’t really able to come up with a consistent problem statement myself.

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The Age of Empires franchise makes civs based off of countries, city states, or cultures. Making a civ based off of one historical figure is very limiting. Or making a civ out of one school of thought. these could be central components to a civ’s play-style, but include them as a part of a smaller polity that otherwise wouldn’t be represented in the game.


That seems like a true enough statement, at least for what we’ve seen up until now. That would make some of the new variant civs different, for sure. So I would ask: is being different in that way inherently bad? What is the concrete benefit of fitting every playable faction into that definition? Does having every faction named after a country, city-state, or culture offer significant value over civ names based on smaller-scale concepts like people or philosophies? Is the problem with the naming convention, or the civ choice?

If it’s just the name, I would say that the names alone aren’t really a core component of the game for me; I don’t pick civs based on names, for example. If it’s about the civ choice/design, I would say that I’m not married to the concept of needing every playable faction to be based on a clearly-delineated culture like that (in fact, the impression I have is that such things are extremely nebulous and arguably almost never exist.) Would it really be so much different or better to name the Jeanne d’Arc civ something like The Army of Jeanne d’Arc? I can’t come up with a compelling argument to make that case. “That’s the way it’s always been” is just not a compelling argument to me.

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Now, the question of “SHOULD the devs have made playable factions based on smaller-scale concepts like individual people or ideas?” is a different one entirely. My answer would be this: I did not expect such a thing, and as a player, I probably never would have suggested it. But the reason for both of those things is that my expectations for new AoE content were to get more of the same until the end of time. It’s all we’ve ever gotten. And now that the devs have shown the possibility of something very different, I’m excited about it. I welcome it.

More inspiration can be drawn from a people group than just one person. like choosing to make a variant civ based off of the Hussites, Khwarazmian Empire, or Friesland.
For Example the Taborite sect of the Hussites had a revolutionary visionary leader Jan Zizka under his leadership they developed tactics and equipment that allowed them to beat back relentless catholic crusades.
The absence of feudalism and serfdom in Friesland was known as the Frisian freedom that made their society vastly different from the HRE, England, and France.
The Khwarazmian Empire was a state in Iran that lasted under 200 years before the Mongol Empire committed a brutal act of genocide on them.

For a civ variant centered around Jeanne D’arc the name French Army, or Army of Jeanne D’arc would fit in more with naming convention than just using her name.

I feel I already addressed the second point, so I’ll just reiterate: “that’s the way it’s always been” is just not a compelling argument to me. Maybe it is to some, but definitely not to me, and I can’t think of a compelling reason to force the naming convention. So I’m fine with it staying Jeanne d’Arc.

Your first point is very interesting, though. For sure, there are thousands of potential civ candidates that are “larger” than a single person. But does that actually translate directly to better or more interesting game mechanics? Jeanne may just be one person, but her bespoke civ has some of the most unique mechanics ever introduced in an AoE title. From a purely historical perspective, you can tell “more” of a story with a larger group, but in terms of actual gameplay? Focusing on just one person offers some very unique opportunities for inspiration and mechanics. I would challenge your second point and say that there isn’t really a problem with inspiration or mechanics in one person versus one group of people. It’s all about the implementation, and it seems that Jeanne’s implementation is certainly unique enough.

I found what they recently released about Jeanne d’Arc’s civ to be more upsetting.
The unique mechanic is interesting with the hero going from a villager to a general.
A big historical problem with the civ is giving her a hand cannon. hand cannons at that time were very unreliable and would sometimes explode if the person using it got the powder amount wrong.
I think it would be interesting and more historically accurate if she chose between a companion instead of an equipment choice she surrounded herself with some interesting people. She mostly inspired her army with her presence on the front lines, and most likely had little combat skill.
My biggest concern is that her individual power might too strong.

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That’s a fair point, and I’m sure it’ll be interesting to try to balance her faction based on how it operates. It’ll be very interesting to see how Jeanne herself is created in terms of stats and abilities, and what happens if she dies. I imagine she’ll probably still be very vulnerable to counter-units, and throwing her into a fight head-on will likely be a terrible idea. Ideally she could successfully duel two or three comparable units, but not much more than that.

From the historical angle, those are valid thoughts. I was honestly surprised to see that she gets a hand cannon, I figured she would just keep her weapon of choice. For me it’s not a deal-breaker but I’ll have to see what it’s like in-game. I’m not even sure I’ll love Jeanne’s playstyle in the end, but I’m definitely intrigued by it.

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