Mmm, nope, AoE2 is not just sitting on nostalgia, AoE1 is, and you can see the results of that, where people just came and went since the gameplay is actually quite mediocre.
AoE2â€™s gameplay on the other hand is the reason for its success and people keep playing it because it really is good. Nostalgia canâ€™t feed playtime/continous play, nor new players, nor proffesional level play, nor much bigger player numbers than AoE3.
The thing with you is that you have opinions based on your own personal preferences. Itâ€™s like one would come and say something like the following: ~ AoE3 is ugly because, like all the 3D games of the past, it has aged a lot, you can now see the awful textures and few polygons by todayâ€™s standards while AoE2â€™s 2D art just like a painting is still beautiful. Besides that AoE2 has slower nice depth gameplay where you are able to be very busy mentally in masterfully planning and executing your strategy, and where economy micro, building placement are of utmost importance too, not just the army, and you can have nice long games especially in 4v4s with lots of comebacks and unforseen developments of the game. Unlike AoE3 which is horrible fast and small scale and focus is just on army etc etc…
That would seem like an argument but itâ€™s more a personal preference yelling. The only arguments you gave me are pathing and large amount of strategies?! Which I canâ€™t really tell because I coudnt be bothered with AoE3 long enough to get to know the metas, I was kept from playing it more by its many, many design flaws. But it would be surprising indeed to find out AoE3 actually had depth with lots of strategies and executions, which I can tell you for a fact AoE2 has. Not really sure what is your understanding of the game.