This is a text I used in more than one occasion now, but I want to make sure as good as possible that Relic sees this as this is on the one hand about the HRE, on the other hand, however, about the game design in general and the illusion of difference. The HRE just best displays the lack of unique army mechanics and the little thought that went into it. I am not trying to shittalk the game, but instead want Relic to acknowledge that there is a lot of potential to be used for AoE 4 which they have ignored so far.
I am not talking about economy. I think the prelate is powerful in that regard, but as he needs to be invested in and doesn’t always cover all the villagers, this needs to be seen in relation to the long run effect and in comparison to the other civs. This needs to be seen, I don’t wanna talk about that. It at least gives the HRE some kind of uniqueness which they are lacking so hard. And that is my main complaint for this civ and for the game in general.
After seeing all the civs now I gotta ask: Where is the uniqueness in the HRE army? They have one thing going for them and that is Men at arms (+okayish spearmen). The rest of the army is lackluster and baseline, as it offers nothing exceptional or interesting. The cavalry? Baseline, although the HRE was famous for its heavy cavalry, not just the french. The archers? Baseline. The special unit? Absolute trash but insanely expensive, completely useless, a waste of ressources, historically inaccurate role as an auxiliary unit when Landsknechts actually were the elite and the core of the infantry that excelled even vs cavalry. They were widely feared and wanted by any European king. The reason for their light armor is completely ignored by the game and instead just turned into a double malus = little armor, pathetic hp. And the fact that they are susceptible to light infantry counter makes them even worse than terribad. Why call them powerful when they are the definition of weak? Even their speed is only on spearman level, they are not exceptionally fast. The chinese Palace guards have heavier armor but can be faster. The Yuan Dynasty allows all their units to move 15% faster. Where does that leave the uniqueness of the HRE? There is also barely any synergy in this Civ, nothing seems to work well together or compliment each other.
The Landsknecht losing his suceptibility to light infantry counter would be a start and is a good idea, but he should also definitely get a lot more hp. Or a little bit more hp (at least more than a friggin spearman, he costs 60 food and 100 gold for crying out loud) and the ability to occasionally (25-30%) dodge attacks and take no damage. He then should get a bonus against cavalry and archers. If a few Landsknecht can make it into archers lines, they should be the ones melting the archers down and not the other way around as it actually is rn. And historically Landsknechts actually were able to compete with heavy cavalry and could beat them. This should be displayed within this unit. It is fairly expensive and it is supposed to be expensive, but it needs to offer something in return. Simply making them lose their susceptibility to light infantry counters is not enough. Not if they are supposed to be a unit that you want to build and that is cost effective. There could also be different versions of the Landsknechts with different weapons as they used halberds, pikes, flambergs and gun powder weapons. The way the Landsknecht is right now, he should not cost more than 30 food and 30 gold. That’s all he is worth. What a great elite infantry special unit available from age 3 onward… There is nothing in the game that gives you as little for 100 gold as you get from the Landsknecht.
And then there are religious upgrades that don’t seem like a unqiue strength as they simply don’t work well or are plain lackluster. Inspiration for soldiers is useless as it is too short and takes too long to apply. It is not worth it. It should be an aura (which increases with the amount of prelates in the army: 1 prelate = small aura, 10 prelates = huge aura covering the whole screen) or area of effect spell. Carrying a relic with the army should also do something special. Inspire the army even more or give some kind of other bonus. Increase speed or offer health regen. But nothing. Prelates also don’t offer anything special for the army aside from being available early. They don’t even heal better than normal priests. Together with the Landsknecht the Prelate is the lamest and most boring unique unit in the game and I have seen all of them now. But it would be easy to change that.
And where is the reference to the high variation of soldiers and mercenaries used in the HRE? Where is the reference to the Teutonic Order? Why does the HRE have lame knights and not the possibility to get the Ritterbruder as a, let’s have it a little unique, monastery upgrade for Knights (could give more armor and hp and ofc the according style)? The HRE has baseline heavy cav and among the worst cav in the game. Are you actually kidding me? I feel like the HRE is the least finished civ that has gotten the least love, as they display the core mechanics of the game but little to nothing beyond that. They offer nothing except strong defenses and good men at arms. The rest is also fully available for the other civs and mostly even in better versions. But even these differences and boni seem quite superficial, yet they reach way further than what the HRE has going for them. They simply make more sense and synergize better. And if you go into the gunpowder era with this game, why skip the fact that Landsknechts also used gun powder weapons next to the halberds, lances and greatswords/flambergs? Why is the HRE so lame army wise when this civ actually offers sooooo much? I feel like there is a lot to be done yet, because the state the HRE army was in during beta was pretty damn underwhelming. Bugs, weird mechanics, useless upgrades and units and simply nothing special aside from men at arms. Even their artillery offers nothing outside the usual. And in every video the devs described the Landsknechts as powerful and glass cannons and it killed me inside. How can you be so blind in regards of the Landsknecht’s performance in the game and completely twist his historical role? Relic wants to be somewhat historically accurate, but obiviously completely forgot about the HRE. And why do the Abbasids not have Mameluks? I was wondering that as well. They have to have Mameluks… They were paramount for the Abbasid Empire.
There is still so much potential to make the civs more unique, but it seems like it is going to waste which is an utter shame as I actually really like AoE 4 and also pre-ordered it. The release should be postponed and the civs should get some real diversity upgrades and uniqueness. But that seems unlikely. The most lacking civ in that regard is definitely the HRE, but also the other Civ suffer from quite some superficiality. Maybe Relic manage to spice this Civ up until release and maybe they are willing to patch new stuff in after release. This game needs and deserves that as it does a lot of stuff right. But it definitely is not quite there yet.