Is it worth going back to this game in 2020?

Age of Empires II is the second best RTS I have ever played. I played it for years on the Zone and even played against player like Maimin Matty and the Sheriff.

I did not like Age of Mythology. Age of Empires 3 was good and I liked the shipment system but I preferred AOE2 overall. When Microsoft shut down Ensemble Studios, which I will never forgive them for doing, I stopped playing Age of Empires games completely.

Since Starcraft 2 came out in 2010 it basically the only game I have played and I consider it to be the best RTS game ever made, maybe even the best game ever made. The 1v1 is near perfect except I do not like how it is extremely unforgiving on the micro side, if you react half a second too late you have lost the game and nothing you did before that matters. But the game is extremely deep both on the strategic and tactical side even though it requires you to be very fast which I do not like since I am not fast anymore.

So how is Age of Empires DE compared to the original? Is it worth playing in 2020? I am only interested in ranked 1v1 and never bother with playing the campaign for any RTS.

I have a vague memory of AOE2 being a bit slow and receptive compared to SC2. Getting sheep and building up took several minutes every game and you did not start interacting with your opponent until the second age. But I did like how macro is more important than micro and that there is nothing like DTs or mass Carriers which is much harder to fight than to use. Basically as far I remember Age of Empires was more fair, there where no cheap tactic or OP strategy that was much harder to stop than to execute.

So is it worth investing your time in and is the ranked 1v1 games unique enough that you will still have fun after a few thousand games? Also how is the game length? I can not remember exactly I think games took more time compared to SC2?

Also how is the balance? Is there anything that is much harder to defend than to use or is the game balanced overall, i.e. is every civ viable in a competitive 1vs1 setting? I remember using Byzantine a lot since their counter units were cheaper which was good if I went mass skirmishers and stayed a long time in the second age. I also remember that Vikings were great on island maps but I guess much has changed since then?


Nowadays there are dark age rushes that allows you to harass the enemy really early with 3 militia.

Depends who you ask. Some people are triggered to no end by tower rushes or other strats revolving around forward buildings, others don’t mind. Also there is a recurrent controversy around whether stealing boars and sheeps is OK or not. Hopefully since you practice micro so much in Starcraft you should climb fast and counter those strats easily.

If you don’t just play Arabia all day then yes, all of them have their time to shine. Even if you do only play Arabia most them are usable just fine.

Mass spam of trash units in feudal age has been out of fashion for years now. Byzantine are nowadays that average civ that has no bad matchup but rarely get super good ones either.

Good news the variety of OP water civs has been multiplied by 2 with Italians being as god-tier as Vikings. Also, fireships and demo ships have a feudal version now so water maps are played differently.

As to whether you decide to spend a lot of time playing the game it’s mostly up to you and how much you like the game back then.


As someone who has played both sc2 and aoe2 at a decent level (although more 2v2 than 1v1), i can tell you that you will probably love aoe2.

Your complaint about sc2 sometimes beeing decided in a few seconds is just what i found annoying as well. The dps in general and ecspecially of banelings, ht, infestor is just too high, your army can disappear in the blink if an eye. Aoe2 does have some micro intensive situations, mostly when fighting siege unit vs siege unit as they oneshot each other. But in general, its more about macro - you often just send in armies in the lategame without even watching.
Overall i would say that there is a lot of micro potential in aoe2, but its more of an option and less of a necessity.

About your specific questions:

  • there are a few cheese strats, mostly the Persian TC douche and the inca villager rush. But both are specific to rather unpopular civs, you shouldnt encounter them all too offen.
    -games take generally longer than sc2 matches, but with very high variance. Since you get endless food and near endless wood in aoe2, the fight can go on for hours sometimes while in sc2, one side usually runs dry. Id say a game takes about 30min on average, going anywhere from 15 to 90 min.
    -the balance is really good right now Imho. There are some maps/gamemodes with on clearly op civ, but on standard 1v1, nearly all civs are viable and while some might be stronger, none are outright broken.

Not in 2020, but in 2021 :slight_smile:


You made the joke i was going to make :grinning:

Yes, this game is worth going back to. I really like the added QoL features. They make the game much smoother to play.


I agree that Ensemble never should have been shut down but if they hadn’t Forgotten Empires would never have gotten a chance to work with Microsoft and they are the best thing to have happened to the Age community since I and II were released in the 90’s. Ensemble was a big loss but AoE wouldn’t be the way it is today if it weren’t for the guys at Forgotten Empires.


Nothing can possibly make me happier than AoE II: DE and you will never regret buying this game.


I trust you’re asking about AoE2:DE, not AoE1:DE, but just wanted to make sure :slight_smile:

Watching gameplay trailers and streamers should help you decide. I think it’s worth it, but I don’t really play ranked. The game is currently only $9.99 on Steam (which is 50% off normal price); seems like it’d be hard to go wrong? The devs put a lot of work into this game and continue to. I don’t know how $10 could not be worth it, considering games with far less gameplay value, replay value, active development, and support can cost $50+. AoE2:DE would be the $10 gift that keeps on giving, imo.

I know some people suffer from performance issues and such, but that might not be you… and even if it is, you’ve gone this long without AoE2:DE, could you just play SC2 and AoE2:HD for a while long to let patches catch up if it gets too painful?

Probably slower, but I never played SC2 more than 5 mins yet. I enjoy that AoE is not a Call of Duty-like pure frag-fest start to finish, and wouldn’t want it to become that. Games and franchises are allowed to be different. (I’m not saying you’re advocating non-stop wars; I’m just trying to say that that AoE shouldn’t necessarily aim to be like SC2, and vice versa.) If you need non-stop war and very little defenses, you might consider AoE3 or AoE3:DE instead, though. Defense structures have far less hitpoints there, you have a limit to how many towers and such you can build, and the game is designed to have non-stop shooting action as soon as possible.

Others will definitely have a better perspective on this than me. I can offer a little warning, though: Nostalgia is very powerful, and if you need AoE2:DE to be exactly like your memories are, or better, in order to re-live or compete with the feelings and long-lost magic of playing AoE2 from yester-year, when times were maybe simpler for you or your memories of playing AoE2 with friends and others are like beautiful paintings… and having this would help drive you to play 1,000 games in AoE2:DE… then you should be careful. There is a strong chance AoE2:DE can definitely match or exceed those times or memories, creating new magical memories for you. But since nostalgia is so powerful for some, there’s a chance it might not live up to your expectations in that respect.

For me, I think AoE2:DE holds its own quite well! And because it still uses/leverages the old 2D sprite-based graphics system rather than some new 3-D engine, it still feels very much like the old AoE2 to me. But with better graphics, some enhanced mechanics, some evolved systems, more hotkeys, more AI commands, etc. Yes, some bugs and performance issues at times, but hopefully they can be ironed out over time.

Devs are constantly balancing things. And players are always asking for balances based on their experience and observations. If Byzantine is overly powerful in one month, there’s a decent chance something will eventually be nerfed about them, and/or other civs will be buffed to better compete. Other players pay much more attention to balance than I do – as I tend to enjoy playing just one civ anyways. So they’re a lot more knowledgeable on this than I am :slight_smile:

Good luck! Only you can truly know if it sounds worth it for you, but with enough research and discussion, I’m sure you’ll come to a conclusion that works nicely for you. And if you get it and don’t like it, don’t blame us :wink: Maybe try to promptly ask Steam for a refund if you don’t like it.

New DLC (or an expansion pack?) is also coming in January (“Lords of the West”). It would cost more money (I think $9.99 to pre-purchase?), if you want that, too.


Of course, it’s the definitive version of arguably the best RTS ever, the graphics are gorgeous, there’s constant balance updates and the community is larger than ever, great time to come back after years of not playing


If you are not sure: You can always buy the game at steam and ask for a refund (*) if you dont like it.

(*) For more details: Steam Refunds

Xbox live might have a similar policy, but Steam is considered as the go to platform for most players.


With the current situation of Starcraft 2 under ActiBlizz, broken servers and no more content updates. One should be wise to move to this masterpiece that is the Age of Empires Franchise. This game has its flaws but unlike the stagnant Starcraft 2, the community here is growing. There are also great mods if you’re into custom campaigns, etc.

P.S. I bought nearly all digital goodies in SC2 but at the end all we got was dump in the face over there when no more support PR was released. Immediately move to AoE, never went back and totally love playing the campaigns with custom campaigns here. There is also a growing esports scene.


No, this game has been trashed like HD back in 2013 - They basically pulled of another HD Edition and we all know how good it was.
The game itself (especially the graphics) is good, but everything around it - Performance, Matchmaking, UI, Modding, Scenario creation, Multiplayer system, punishment execution all are absolutely behind every RTS released in 2020.
If you only care about Singleplayer then go for it, but multiplayer is just a pain currently. Sometimes your ally names flicker in Quickplay (if they are shown even).


Can totally relate to it. If we are honest the game migth be worth the 20 dollars it costs. A lot of Singleplayer and campaign modes and such. The main issue really is MP and performance. I have played the CD edition AoC on a PC that is 100 times slower than my current setup, back in 2007 or whatever I had no issues (at least performancewise, dont wanna talk about my skill back then xD) at all with 8 AIs all spamming units and stuff. Now we are hoping for the game not to crash to desktop in a MP battle with everyone having 50 pop. And then you are imagining what the game could actually be if Devs would not be total ******, thats what makes people upset and angry about this game. Sometimes MP will just work fine for hours and PC is just chilling in a 250pop 8 player post imp black forrest battle, the other time it will just crash in a 2v2 in feudal :confused:


@MockHamill, hello and welcome to the forum! :raising_hand_man:
I will speak only for myself, as I believe you want to hear personal opinions, not so much generalizations.
The first thing that made me buy it was the nostalgia factor. AoE2 is THE game and even after 21 years it is still a classic RTS choice. All the basics are still here, nothing too crazy was changed. There are new mechanics that spice up the game, like the Konnik and the Feitoria, but me and the community embraced them immediately.
Second, the quality of life features, QoL, are a huge step forward. They literally can up your skill level. The shift-click, the new walling algorithm, the reseeding - they all help a lot. This way you spend more time concentrating on the basic game and less on the bits and tricks just to get your economy to work properly.
Third, I see a lot of feedback between the developers and the community. This game has so many patches and it has never been so balanced. Yes, there are some glaring issues, but as the majority of the pro players confirm, for the most played map Arabia there are just few civilizations that are bad. Also, DLCs are coming soon :wink:
I really can not say too many bad things about the multiplayer. I practise often with a friend of mine and even after imperial age, things are fine when we play 2v2 or 3v3. I start to suspect that it is deeply related to the PCs, not so much to the server locations or anything like that. I mean, why would a Portuguese complain that the connection is slow, when he/she plays against a Japanese - after all there are unavoidable technical complications, right. On the other hand, even during tournaments the game crashes and matches have to be restarted due to a connection drop. Again, is it the game or the internet.
As a summary, AoE2 is alive and thriving. Soon, there will be 37 civilizations and people demand more. The developers are dedicated and AoE4 is in progress.
I say yes, buy the game and get good. If you are not still sure, watch youtube videos. Pros and caster like Hera, TheViper, MbL, DauT, T90, Nili, MembTV - they post regularly.


Do not buy the game in any case! For over a month the multiplayer is no longer playable, here and on Steam are countless posts about it and the developers simply do not care. Worst support ever and simply a cheek.


From what i’ve seen its only having issues in 4v4 games.


No, definitely also in other constellations, be it 3 vs. 3, 2 vs. 2.

Before the update, it ran in the same settings etc.


Seems like some others are playing a different game. I love the match making system. As result you will get much better quality. The skill gap is very small (after the initial start), which make this system so much better then the old system.

I also notice not that much lag. After a while i tried HD. That give me a very terrible experience. DE was perfomance wise so much better. I dont really notice much lag at all. Yeah, sometimes there is some lag, but that was also the case on HD or Voobly. Note: I mostly play 1v1. I am not really into TGs. As far as i know there were some lag issues for TGs, but they are mostly fixed.


I’ll try to answer some questions

This is still more or less the case, but honestly it isn’t that bad. Usually you will reach the feudal age at the 10 minute mark if you play a fast feudal build. And 10 ingame minutes is much faster than real minutes (game runs at 1.7x speed). So 10 game minutes would be roughly somewhere under 6 real time minutes. And you use those 6 real time minutes, to scout your map, your opponent’s map, decide your strategy, plan out your buildings/walls etc… because the maps are randomly generated, and you need to process the map, and see which one of your resources is vulnerable (a forward gold mine might be really hard to defend if enemy applies pressure on it early). And you also have options with some fast civs to go even faster into feudal. Something like mongols 18 to 20 pop scouts is super fast and effective. Or do a dark age rush, making a barracks around game’s minute 6 (which is for real time around 3.5 minutes) and making 3 militia to send to your enemy to harras him, in order to buy yourself time for setting up your strategy. Most people talk about timings in the game’s time, and not in real time, but it’s pretty easy to see the ingame clock just by pressing F11.

Also, regarding economy, you will find that you need to babysit your economy so much more compared to sc2. In sc2 I assume you just throw your workers on the vespene gas and the crystals, and keep adding, without much control required.

In aoe2, you gotta pay special care in dark age, having your vills kill only 1 sheep at a time, as an animal not being gathered on is rotting away. Lumberjacks tend to keep getting stuck around each other, and sometimes keep gathering distant trees instead of the closed ones, so you gotta pay special attention to them. After you eat up all the different animals, the food eco gets easier, as it just turns into Farms. And ofc as the game goes on, you will have much more workers compared to a sc2 game. In a standard 200 pop game, you are aiming to never stop producing villagers untill you have 100-120 of them.

Ranked 1v1s will last anywhere from 20 to 60 ingame minutes, which when translated to real time, is 12 to 35 minutes per game

We are actually in quite a good spot now, and most civs are actually viable when speaking about the most common setting, which is 1v1 Arabia. Out of 35 civs, for Arabia, I’d say there’s like 5 very strong civs, another 15 perfectly viable ones, another 10 middle/average, and like 5-6 which may be questionable to play and aren’t so viable.


Definitely worth coming back to play as I did. I played against the same players as you and this game is better than it was on the zone. Just need the volume of players back