Most RTS have an option called “Handicap” that can be set for each player.
This is normally a positive of negative modifier to the resource production, training time and some other variables in the game. It is there so you can balance lobbies with players of varying skill levels.
But this setting just doesn’t feel fun. If you give a noob more resources they don’t learn how to play the game correctly and giving a good player less resources makes the game feel slow and annoying to play.
AoE4 should have more interesting Handicap options.
Different Bonuses or debuffs that can be chosen and not just a flat percentage value on everything.
- Only increasing/decreasing the cost of certain things like Age Up or Technologies
- Disabling some units (like remove unique units)
- Only increasing/decreasing the collection rate of some resources like Gold or Stone
- Always building two instead of one unit at the a time for the same price (only of military units or only for villagers)
- Small resource trickle that increases every time you Age up
- The price of villagers increases by n% for every villager build
- You have to pay n% “taxes” on the resources in your stockpile every minute.
- Landmarks don’t give a bonus anymore
- Villagers have more HP/Attack
But those modifiers could be funny ones too that can help or harm a player
- Some units explode when they die
- Some units have a limited lifetime
- A random unit dies every n seconds (interval gets smaller over time/on age up)
- A random building starts burning every n seconds
- Every time you build a villager there is a chance you get a random military unit
- The price of every unit changes randomly (by +/- n%) every time you build one
One idea is that you have to complete achievements to unlock the more exotic handicaps.