How should Civilizations be designed by AoE4?

Its a very important point that you did not play those games, this means different factions and unique mechanics alone were not enough to get your interest for them.

Counter question, how many new RTS games were declared at least average by gamers? Strategy games are still popular, its just developers are making these days bad Real-Time Strategy Games.

Let’s compare for example a modern Turn Based Strategy game vs Real-Time Strategy Game.
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War TBS from 2018 vs
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III for RTS from 2017

Both games do take place in same universe Warhammer 40K
But the way how games market did receive both games is very different.

Dawn of War and Relic are very well-known franchises and studio. There was zero competition, game was advertised and praised by the press. 3 factions with unique gameplay mechanics.
Died 2 or 3 months after release, received abysmal ratings and got no support or patches, was very quick abandoned. According to players it had very bad story mode and lame gameplay.

In same time Proxy Studios and Gladius are no name franchise/studio, had like almost no advertisement at all. And still managed to prove itself despite having several mayor titles around like Age of Wonders, Endless legend and Civilisation. They did just by gameplay copy /paste Civilisation. Was launched with 4 faction more and received tons of DLCs and patches, has 7 faction unlock now.
Despite some flaws, people are actually liking and praising it.

So how can it be, that we still have AAA Total War, Turn based strategy games and City Builder like Anno. But if it comes to Real time, people do not like it?

My point is, Real-Time Strategy Games developers these days do make fundamental mistakes.

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2 I didnt play those, because i am interested in history and rts, in my opinion is AoE III and II the perfect fit. I also dont like Futuristic like strategy games. AoE Online, i didnt know the existence before it was stopped. And quess what, AoE III has more unique civs, and guess again, i like AoE III.

Answer to your counter question:
Yes the developers make bad strategy, but the factions arent a part of it. If you look closely… at the fricking thing you yourself said, the players didnt like the games because of bad story mode and lame gameplay, were do you read factions to different? Also no patches works towards hate about a game, nothing to do with unique factions.

Why they dont like real time? There are a lot of possible answers to this. One could be that people just dont like them anymore as much as the old days. It could also be that the new rts has to few things to do. But what i certainly know isnt the reason, is different and unique factions.

Random note: I thought this review was super interesting!

People loved Dawn of War I, most loved Dawn of War II, and almost everyone hated Dawn of War III.

Each of these games has completely unique factions. It follows pretty logically that unique factions were not the problem. Literally no one complained about DoW III’s unique factions.

But everyone did complain that it played like a MOBA. They complained about the lack of base building. The size of the maps, other game play features.


Well you are right with your points too, but I think that’s the combinations of those things.
“not appealing design, odd gameplay feeling and missing of tech tree branches can only lead to impression you have a bad and inferior game.”

And my personal impression is so far, is that they did not learn from previous projects.

1 Unit Proportions and Cartoony design. Those excessively bright and flashy colours, units that have odd big sizes. Like a AoE4 Rider with too big sword or that DOW3 Hero who is much bigger than the soldiers and does backflips and jumps in very heavy armor.

Does make the game look bad. Because it can be done better.
The impression is always make a Realistic character is harder than a cartoon character.

2 As for gameplay like Turtling and different factions = missing tech tree branches.
DoW3 was launched unlike DoW 1 and 2 without defence towers. They were later added with a patch.
Just think of it for a person who liked to play defensive, in DOW1 you have by each faction mines and defence towers that can be upgraded, you have a sequel by DOW3 game without mines and defence towers. Also faction Space Marines missed: Transport units, Healer Units, Heavy Infantry, long range Mechs and anti vehicle upgrades.

That’s why I do have a very bad feeling to see different factions in AoE4.
For me it sounds like to have again missing tech tree branches.
And if a tech tree branch is missing, you miss its strategy.

3 Gameplay, AoE2 is like the best complex base build RTS ever with very clear counters and counterparts. The last work of the current AoE4 team is simply a direct opposite of it.

The unit proportions of AoE IV in the image you provided isn’t off.

Still unique factions wasnt a criticism. And you said i believe the Mongols are denied of the last Age. This means they need to rush, so they are a rush civ. Seeing rushing is already a thing i dont see why there cant be a civ designed for rushing. There are a lot of gameplays where people rush feudal or castle age and winning withouth even reaching the imperial age. Seeing i believe AoE IV has just like AoE III five ages, the mongols will have 4 ages to rush.

You can also not act like the AoE II civs arent designed for certain purposes. The Teutons for example are designed for a defensive form, unlike the Huns which are more designed to play agressive.

RTS games are also heavily criticized for factions balance and that is actually a result of unique factions.

Well Zerg are a rush faction, but still you have access to defense buildings and late game counter and counterpart units. You don’t have to rush, its optional.

You don’t have to play Teutons defensive, you can play them aggressive.
You don’t have to play Huns aggressive, you can play them defensive.

I still can as Hun, build lots of turtle and win by world wonder.

Turtling, Rush, Hit and run and so on strategies should be available across all factions.
Or else game might as usual turn out very boring.

An Age of Empires 2 player can anytime surprise what he is doing, like wow here is a wall or wow he is using a lot of horse archer to harass economy, here is knights rush, there is mass spam of spear soldiers, or wow he is using a lot of priests to steal my units. And what are doing 3 castles over here next to my base. Also oh no, not again he did build walls around my place. AoE2 is maybe old, but there are so many ways to play it. So many ways how people do approach you. And they can anytime simply switch their tactic, suddenly somebody does send lots of archers/skirmisher, but was harrasing early game with scout horses.

And that’s possible already to experience with very casual players.

If I take a modern RTS, it does not matter if player has 1 or 1000 hours experience, my enemy is always going to make same move each game, because modern game offers no variety, as it is merely stitched together to do 1 thing.

Universe at war, a yes the same huge walking unit as usual.
DOW3, a yes the same rush to middle, build Barack as usual.
C & 4: Tiberian Twilight a yes the same rush to middle.
Grey Goo, a yes the same mass spam of same early units.
Deserts of Kharak, a yes the same mass spam of same early units.
C&C Generals, a yes the same scud bug as usual.

And for mid game, we have a very nice lack of counterpart and countering units/ buildings.
While having very lame economy, ineffective infrastructure, boring victory conditions.

Non of the teams does think outside the box, they do follow all some kind of odd design Dogma.
And deliver therefore very comparable failing results.

I am very aware AoE IV won’t be the chance for RTS to take opportunity to fix ongoing genre issues.

You always can do this and that. But the civs wont excell at it. You know AoE II is not a stranger to denying certain things to civs right? Meso americans dont get cav.

AoE III has more unique civs, and as every civ you have multiple strategies to choose from.

Faction balance has nothing to do with unique factions. You said they didnt patch the games, you know AoE II DE went out with also balance issues? The steppe lancer was in the beginning very strong. For this reason there are things like patches and bug fixes. Civs can be further balanced if seen nescissary afther release.

Well by American factions in AoE2 they did at least try to replace horse units with Eagle Warriors
Ok in AoE2, you are going to have your issues to counter as Native American siege weapons and Monks, but they at least tried to have here a unit for it. Yes, something like Steppe Lancer might have been too strong, but still he is part of the food chain as infantry is the unit to kill him.

Problem of modern RTS Factions, they can’t do similar things as other factions and a lot of strategies are simply not available. They don’t even offer replacement, counterparts, even counters,

We are even not talking by a modern RTS about adjusting some unit stats, no, they have to add like maybe 5 or 10 units more to each factions tech tree. What simply isn’t happening. And the genre, despite massive same feedback, does fail for years.

One quite extreme example we had by DOW3 Eldar with Rangers, they were basically snipers.

Imagine a cheap unit with scout horse speed, with bow and range of trebuchet.
That is an early game unit, which is very efficient at damaging any other unit and can very fast run away.

Space Marines had snipers, but they were not fast. The faction Orc did not have snipers at all.

For faction Orcs, the game does offer no counter and counterpart units. It basically means, if you are using a specific type of units against a certain faction, you can’t loose at all. They do simply not have access for units or abilities to counter it.

Meanwhile, I do see it as a big genre issue, even if you are not going to play online vs other people, you still might get the impression the game is missing something. The faction you play is not unique, the people who made the game, did simply forget to add for it units, functional economy, buildings and abilities. You start to doubt the product.

I think were are getting away from my initial point if it even was on this thread i cant remember. I said i wanted the devs to also look at AoE III and get the things that did work and combine them with AoE II together with new things.

AoE III has nothing what you described. So i dont see a reason why you wouldnt want them to combine. This whole dicussion has become about modern rts instead of what it originally was.

The building feature of the ‘Shrine’;
I like the ability to generate resources from a building - based on available resources in its area.
In addition to hunts & herds; Maybe include ‘trees’ as a resource, if not already considered.

Well I think it would be OK to add units from AoE3 into AoE2.
As long, they won’t leave out tech.

That’s is rather a gameplay suggestion from you, I see an issue with RTS where ressources can run out and buildings that do generate resources, if buildings are not optional. The only game that did in my opinion do there good job was ironically C&C Generals, while C&C suffered from Tank Rush as usual, in that game it was up to you if you wanted to tank rush, build lots of nukes or a great end game economy.

C&C Generals was by the way like the only RTS beside AoE2, where you could win by turtling.
But I don’t see how could Nukes fit into AoE4, it might be a game mode for Age of Mythology 2.

Adam isgreen said game will have four ages.
So mongols will have three ages.

Only 4, wow i personally was already dissapointed they didnt do a new age or all previous combined but even downgrading the last ages is a minus for me.

AoE 3 units (their upgrades), look WAY to similar to each other. :smiley:

Also, AoE 2 units “look vastly more unique”. The difference is that AoE 3, actually has more of an “Assymetrical balance” mechanic. Therefore the units are “actually” by definition, unique.

However, AoE 2, “specifically the way in which the unit is designed and their mechanics”, and thir type is much more unqiue, from a “design analysis”.

For comparision, let’s use the “knights line”, and compare it to the “dutch hussar line”.

When a knight becomes a “cavelier”, it looks WAY different.

When a Hussar becomes an “Elite Hussar” , it looks “basically the same, or at least really similar”.

Also, even the “naimng of the units”, for AoE 3, is “less complex” (Which means that - the name of the unit is not “substantially/significantly” unique).

For example:

Hussar = Elite Hussar = Imperial Hussar.

Knight = Cavelier = Paladin

Not to mention, the picture of the “Base unit” (a NOT upgraded unit), and the upgraded units, looks basically EXACTLY the same. :smiley:

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People are not automatically seeing changes as an improvement. Rather that the game makers did not check the source material. The issue I see all the time, if they make some kind of experiment like C&C 4: Tiberian Twilight with mobile bases and once nobody likes it, the game flops and franchise dies.

Age of Empires 4 should really avoid waking up impression its raw and underfunded.
I would actually really appreciate first them to get the basics done right.
Once they get the basics right, I think it would be OK to experiment.


AoE3 just didn’t give the impression of unit evolution.

And there is indeed an issue how AoE3 did handle unique units, in AoE3 they have their roles you have to use them, AoE2 does offer it rather as a choice between a standard and a unique unit.

For Example War Elephant upgrades into Armored Elephant

here AoE3 Siege Elephant to Mansabdar Siege Elephant

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I am not exactly sure as to what you are referring to by the word “impression”. However, most units, even when on the field, look quite similar to their “NON-upgraded unit”.

If you want to see a “unit-line” which looks really unique. Then just look at the AoE 2 “militia-line”. Although almost ALL the units and their “unit-line” look quite unique, especially after being upgraded. The “militia-line” due to it being the “longest line”, by having 5 different units; Is the most apt comparison.

However, AoE 3 (original), units and their “unit-lines”, are not quite as differentiated in their design; Most specifically, in the case of a unit’s “unit-line”. Whereby quite a few, only have their name and statistics changed, and NOT their ACTUAL appearance.

Simply put; Most players do not have the time to check the name of an enemy unit while playing; Thus a “visual confirmation” IS required, most notably in the form of changing the actual appearance of the unit after the unit has been upgraded.

Also simplifying the way in which the statistics are shown for each unit would be quite helpful. Or at least a section “inside the game” which explains what each symbol represents when looking at your unit’s specific attack/defense/range/damage. Because the current AoE 3, is simply way to confusing. :smiley:

How about such unit icons like by supreme commander, where you have triangles and squares for ground and air units.

I think for AoE4 it would be best to extend it for other units too,
this is very awesome and unique concept.

MilitiaIcon MilitiaManAtArmsIcon Man-at-ArmsLongswordsManIcon Long Swordsman2HandedswordsmanIcon Two-Handed Swordsman ChampionIcon Champion

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For Example Crossbow


Cold Weapons

Mace and Axes


I am not sure, as to exactly how that would work. Since the “militia-line” are not exactly unique; Almost all unit’s in AoE 2 originla/HD/DE belong to a “unit-line”. The only difference is that the “militia-line”, has the “most upgrades”, in terms of upgrading a specific unit.

Pikemon, crossbow men, knights, scouts, these are all different lines with upgrades that make them look different. However, the have less upgrades than the “militia-line” upgrades. :smiley: