How should Civilizations be designed by AoE4?

I still do not understand how can you jump to the conclusion -with all those games that you mentioned- that differentiated factions are those that lead to failure. There are obviously many other factors that determine a game’s success or failure. Have you actually run a multiple regression analysis and proved that diversified factions have a negative correlation with a game’s success and that correlation is statistically important?
It seems to me that you just jump onto something randomly to prove your point.

Aztecs from AoE3 were brought up as an example somewhere in here, saying that they were weak because of their uniqueness. Aztecs are actually considered an OP civ to play with in 1v1. They lack cannons, yes, they lack cavalry, yes, that’s because they are named Aztecs, the historical background of that civ is reflected on its gameplay. I wouldn’t even bother trying Aztecs with cannons or as Mexican mercenaries lol. Combine all natives with their European conquerors? Oh please… that’s both historically inaccurate and an insult to the civ itself.

At last, what’s the point of having too many civs if they are going to feel the same?
I come to think that most supporters of that idea just want the chance to play a civ with their country’s name written on top even if it means that the experience will be almost identical with any other.
I agree with you that civs shouldn’t have only one possible way to be played, but when I play the Mongols I want to feel that they are Mongols and not English, both visually and in gameplay. Let the devs worry about the balance, they must know its importance.


Have you guys not played AoEO? It is a perfect example of an RTS based on history with 6 unique balanced factions.


Yes… 6 unique civs is a satisfying number. Maybe maximum 8 at launch like was AoE3, given that the max players on a map will also be 8.

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I’m surprised on how this discussion digressed into “whether civ design affects selling of the game”. Well, that’s not our concern but the developers’, not to mention that faction design is not the sole factor that determines how successful an RTS is. I mean, there are also hundreds of games out there with near-identical faction designs but failed.

Another thing is diversity of factions itself is very hard to define. I don’t think Aztecs in Age 3 is a good example whether you support “diverse” civs or not. On one hand, they have no cavalry or artillery, not even gunpowder, and their unit roster looked archaic compared to others. They have access to Jaguar Knights as a melee heavy infantry that counters other heavy infantry—not seen in other civs. On the other hand they have Coyote Runners that function like Hussars, Eagle Knights that function like Dragoons and Arrow Knights that function like Culverins (considering their unit classes and counter multipliers). It turns out that Aztecs in Age 3 is a faction that looks very different from others in their design but not so much in their mechanisms — they lack a lot of generic units that most other civs have but they also have units that fulfill similar roles. It’s even hard to say they are a very distinct civ or they play with quite similar mechanisms as others. It’s somewhere in between.


This ‘in between’ could be the golden ratio between completely asymmetrical and identical.
It performs in a similar way while it retains its unique feeling as a historical conception. Japanese similarly can’t hunt, consumpion of meat was historically banned in Japan for centuries, instead they get more berry bushes and shrines that produce resources.
I don’t say they are the perfect examples or that aoe3’s civs are flawless, they are not, (and for my taste the Europeans are still too similar) but one has to admit that their design was improved greatly compared to aoe2 and AoE4 should now look forward.

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Sure there are also other factors, we can discuss them too.

If you want to play with actually different factions, would you pick up for it a historical RTS?
Obviously not. Sure you can give it a try, but in the end you would go back to Starcraft or Warcraft, that are not only superior, but also very well populated with real people. If other games do try their different factions, caster units, play fast, carton style, it is fast dead online. I just can’t really recall any RTS, that did benefit from it.

The big Problem I have right now with AoE4,
it simply does remind me a lot of AoE Online.
Do we really need another AoE game to fail?

I just don’t see why people would pick up right now AoE4. As mentioned here by DivineBoon, Total War 3 Kingdoms, was bought a lot because it did have china. And he is right, people would rather buy a game that does represent their culture, history and nation.

In case of AoE Online Greek and Egyptian do still exist, but Celtic, Persian, Babylonian, Norse are kind of no longer around. That’s why having a handful of nations might be not enough. It also have to be the right Nations. Britain did not fight Mongols. And Mongolia is today a very small country, with just 3 million people.


Anyone who tells you that AoEO failed because of its faction design doesn’t know very much about AoEO. AoEO failed despite its faction design.


Honestly, I wouldn’t want that, especially if like in AOE tradition they focus on European civs first. One of the main points of playing AOE2 in my opinion is to see all it’s beauty with varying architecture sets and unit sounds.

Vanilla AOE3 was terrible IMO and even the full official AOE3 experience is nothing compared to AOE2+TC+FE visual variety speaking. You have a total 14 civs to choose from in AOE3 compared to 23 with Forgotten Empires.

I hope they don’t strive too far away from the AOE formula with AOE4. AOE3 was a step in the wrong direction, which Wars of Liberty to some degree fixed:

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Those 14 civs offer more gameplay variety.

AoE3 is also an AoE game and has its own merit in this formula.

Following aom, it did a step forward on civ design, especially with its expansions, and was followed by another one forward from aoeo.

From what we’ve heard I’m optimistic that AoE4 will keep going forward.

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For what we know, AOE4 Will include different civilizations with unique strategies, structures and units. we’ll have 6-8 civilizations and other ones Will come with future Addons


Right now their plan does give me AoE Online Flashbacks LOL.

First of all game suffered from lack of Civilizations, so having again just 6 sounds not much, especially if you consider AoE4 is supposed to be an AAA game.

I leave the graphics out of discussion.

It was quite a mess, due to badly recognizable what you have actually on the field.
The norse for example had no siege units, that you could recognize as such.
What is ranged or melee ? It wasn’t easy to fast recognize what units are for.
AoE2 does do there way more decent job to tell units apart.

here This article does describe most problems pretty well.

In short, the title launched with far too little content, a bad business model, and couldn’t crank out the goods fast enough to retain an audience. This resulted in a sharp drop-off from 100,000 players to 15,000 in a few months.

Executive Producer Kevin Perry criticized the game’s launch at GDC Europe, pointing at its skimpy features (including only two civilizations at launch) and bad public perception: “You don’t get a soft launch for a branded title. Players come there for your brand. You only get word-of-mouth once. Whenever we got new players, they always came in with the overhead, ‘but I heard this game sucks.’ That hill was extremely difficult to climb.”

Even after tinkering with the game’s cost, adding in more content, and figuring out ways to allow players to spend more money, the company ultimately realized that the players were mostly demanding new content which couldn’t be generated to make a profit. “The content itself was too expensive to create,” Perry admitted. "We did do a lot of things right, but they weren’t enough to actually save the

Does anybody remember here Empires Apart? It was advertised as AOE4 LOL.

Em, one odd thing, it was mentioned by AoE4 factions will be different, like mongols have mobile bases
same “doctrine” was used by Empires Apart
and here in those pictures you see how different they are.

They did design by Empires Apart Mongols without defence buildings, and thats a big mess if you want to play an AoE game. Are they going to make by Mongols no walls too? Problem is this, you can’t achieve by historical factions a different gameplay without to mess up and leave out in their technology trees a lot of stuff out.

We need for a good gameplay design comparable technologies, visible and clear roles for units.


Yes, there were many factors to why AoEO failed, and its civ design was not one of them.

As for your particular concerns for the Norse, I am not familiar with confusion about their two siege units or their throwing axemen rising to the level of affecting game satisfaction. But if you say that it affected your satisfaction, that sounds good enough to me.

Yes but they failed because lack of design and planning.

I would just be happy with unique skins to be honest. Have all the generic swords, pikes, archers, knight etc units that serve the same function just don’t make them all look the same. That to me is the worst part of AOE2 and AOE1. Same with siege. Don’t give MesoAmerican civs trebuchets, but give them something equivalent.

Also one thing I would like to see is more interesting naval combat. It would be awesome if they took the whole walkable walls idea and extended it to ships. I mean the bottom line is ships are essentially just bits of floating land with soldiers in them who fight other soldiers on other ships. Add that mechanism into the game, build ships that are essentially mobile platforms for your archers, gunners and swordsmen. You maneuver the ships with the intention of not sinking the other ships but to make it so that your troops can kill the enemy troops on the enemy ships. You could then even have proper boarding mechanics so that the troops can board an enemy ship and kill them and take control of the enemy ships. And that way you can “convert” enemy ships too, instead of you know monks doing it which is what happened in AOE2.

A similar idea for castles and towers and fortifications would be very interesting. It would be good to see fortifications change hands in the tide of battle rather than just be razed to the ground. You should be able to take over an enemy castle by killing the garrison inside.

But you should still have the option to just raze things to the ground as well if you want.


Boarding ships would be interesting.
No naval warfare was shown in the trailer tho, or even sea and docks, hopefully it won’t get downplayed too much.


6 ? it started with 3 and that was for months no ?

AOEO had some nice modes(i liked the one you have to defend a wonder against waves with another player) but lack of civs a continental drift progression system and personally looking like a phone game…

But i used to really like the cards to customize units/buildings stats

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AoEO launched with the Greeks and Egyptians. They released four new civs over the next 14 months.

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2 hahahaha and one year to have 6 hahahahahha

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Em, guys is it really true they plan to release just "different " 6 factions and more will be DLCs?
Man that’s sounds like we are rather getting Age of Empires Online 2, then Age of Empires 4.

Age of Empires Online main problem was, it looked lazy. Basically guys in blue vs guys in red T-shirts, it was technically possible to make way better game, but the core idea to make factions different and sell skins, killed factions. We could have had instead a game where units would have been not only recognizable, but also look better.

If you play AoE2, its very clear who is Spearman and that he does “evolve” into Pikeman.
its very clear who is Archer and that he does “evolve” into Crossbowman.
And most importantly, its very clearly how both units interact vs each other.

The point of Age of Empires was to have different Ages, not different factions, especially this specialization did lead to a very strong, valuable and reliable core gameplay. As you had to design lot of factions for different perks of unit types and economy, it did maintain to keep them all playable from casual player till competitive.

A game for anybody, interested in history, strategical tactical battles and base build.
I really don’t like the idea to see it, again,
to be turned into something that doesn’t carry on the spirit of the series.

How is even possible to make “different” factions for historical game, without to mess up the entire gameplay?
We have seen dozens of dead games, that did even fail with freedom of Sci-fi or fantasy setting.

In the past, we did fight with basically the same and similar weapons and technologies.
The only visible difference was colours on uniforms and emblems, you can’t make out of it DLCs.

If AoE4 wants to have a slight chance to succeed,
it should rather take a more realistic approach for its design.
What is actually possible to make, that people would like.


There will have to be trade-offs between historical accuracy and civilization unit balances. That is in part why AoE2 had some inaccuracies.

Almost every Old World army had heavy and light infantry and cavalry, so there should be some units that every civ has.

One idea would be to have unit insignia that can be unlocked as the player advances through the game, sort of like with home city levels in AoE3. The style of armor or other features could be customized, so one person’s paladins might look a bit different than another’s