Is there a distorted view of what 'an AOE game' means?

I propose this topic because people seem to have different views on it. Some say that AOE is one way and others say it is another way.

For example, there are people who say that “AOE-3 should not belong to the saga because it got too far from the essence of the AOE”, while others say that AOE-4 did not advance enough (I am there).

AOE-2 is still seen as a perfect game as it is, but what does this translate to?:

Does it mean that it is a game that does not require sequels because the game already contains everything that an AOE should have?
Does this mean that a sequel is unnecessary because there is nothing to improve in the series?
Does including something new and discarding other things regarding the predecessors violates the essence of the AOE?

A few days ago I made a topic asking ‘what would your perfect AOE look like?’ because there doesn’t seem to be a general consensus of what an AOE game is supposed to be:

How should the appearance be?
What mechanics would you be willing to accept?
How much could it innovate or how much should it stay the same?

It’s completely arbitrary. As seen by the very differing opinions of people playing AoE games.

Every single time a new mechanic is added to AoE2 a slew of people say it “doesn’t belong”, no matter what it is.

A bunch of people claim AoE4 “isn’t designed for AoE fans” despite the fact that it differs from the formula far less than AoE3 did.

And of course some don’t think AoE3 belongs at all since it’s so different.

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An age is the smallest hierarchical geochronologic unit and is the equivalent of a chronostratigraphic stage.[7][12] As of April 2022 there are currently 96 formal and five informal ages/stages .[2]

An empire is a “political unit” made up of several territories and peoples, “usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries”.[1] Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and whose head of state is an emperor; but not all states with aggregate territory under the rule of supreme authorities are called empires or ruled by an emperor; nor have all self-described empires been accepted as such by contemporaries and historians (the Central African Empire, and some Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in early England being examples).

Of course there are fundamental elements to an Age game. In general an Age game is…

  1. A real-time strategy game set in the “age of empires” - best suited from ancient to colonial times
  2. A collection of civilizations based upon history that all play differently because of their unique bonuses, units and technologies.
  3. Villagers are trained at the town center and harvest resources.
  4. Military units are trained at military production buildings and are used to defend your town and go on the offensive to attack your opponent’s town.
  5. Base building with houses, military production buildings, economic production buildings, upgrade buildings, defensive buildings and structures and wonders.
  6. Your civilizations becomes more powerful by researching technologies and upgrades and advancing to the next Age, of which there are typically four.
  7. There are often multiple paths to victory. Conquest, religious and wonder are typical.

I would argue that there are countless detailed gameplay mechanics that make an Age game as well, but I don’t have the time or desire to list all of them out and it’s best to address them as needed.

  1. An RTS. Every turn based mobile game is not a true AoE, it’s a spin off with the same brand. AoM is the opposite, it’s a real AoE with a different name.
  2. It has an economy but it’s relatively low complexity. Like 3-5 resources. Originally 5 were planned (Iron as the 5th) while AoE3 only has 3 (for most civilisations and not counting XP)
  3. Base building is relatively simple but always free and without preset base layout. No street requirements, no production chains (both things were originally planned for AoE1).
  4. Random maps.
  5. Direct control over every unit. No squads.
  6. 3-5 Ages to advance though. Not Tiers like in WC3 or SC2. Your buildings and units change appearance though the ages.
  7. At last one civilisation that totally doesn’t fit that is added in the first Expansion (Palmyra, Huns, Atlantians, Aztecs), ok that was a joke.

But I don’t think most of those are hard rules. They could make an AoE that doesn’t have one of those aspect.
Before AoE2 there were no unique Units, and only the Expansion added unique technologies. And it also was the first to have a different setting.
AoE3 broke a bunch of rules too like 4 resources and resource drop off.
AoM broke rules too but it doesn’t claim to be an AoE. After AoE3 I’d say it’s fair to call it an AoE too because it’s closer to AoE1/2 in some ways then AoE3 is.
AoEO definitely is an AoE game, can’t think of anything they did that broke the AoE rules but I also didn’t play the game so maybe I missed something.

What is not an Age of Empires:

  • Empire Earth: It’s very close, it fulfils most aspects but it has a little to many Ages. It’s very close to AoE though mostly because it was made by former AoE1 developers that had more ambition instead of making the relatively “safe” AoE2.
  • Warcraft 3: Only 2 resources, focus on heroes, no Ages but more abstract upgrade Tiers.

Not in AoE1. AoE1 only had bonuses.
AoE3 civilisations often don’t have unique technologies either (if you don’t count home city cards)

AoE3 has Settlers (Europeans), Coureur des Bois (French) and Citizens (Revolutions).
And there are also other ways to get Settlers/Villagers in AoE3 for some civilisations. Town Centre is still always the main way of getting them.

Let’s not get into semantics. Every Age game since AoE1 has had unique units and technologies.

Of course. I said in general across the franchise.

Would add to what has already been said that an Age game has good teamgames/teamplay. Not many RTS games do, most are only focused on 1v1.

I didn’t want to nitpick.
Generally do you consider AoE2 the baseline for AoE?
AoE4 is very similar to AoE2 while AoE1 is missing some features and AoE3 removed some (And added a lot).

In many ways, yes. What did AoE III remove that AoE II has?

  1. Drop off buildings (Resources get deposited instantly)
  2. The resource Stone
  3. Small things like projectiles missing their target
  4. Corners on the map

There is a bunch of things that AoE3DE brought back that AoE3 originally removed like more then just 2 teams or diplomacy.

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Ah, yes. I don’t consider these changes that significant though.

The main reason was because AOE-3 focuses more on firearms. Also this was replaced by the slow from melee attacks.

Dodging projectiles and cannon balls would be a bit absurd, it would be like neo in the matrix. Only ships can dodge the mortar attack.


It’s just as absurd in AoE2. I still enjoy the silly micro battles with it, but there are many valid arguments against it.

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Did you know that muskets were not accurate during the napoleonic era? And dodging arrows walking here and there - aka “dancing” - is absurd also, anyway.

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I’m going to add my own nitpick that Population is a resource as much as any other - it must be managed by the player. It’s unique in that it has an upper limit that can’t be improved past, but it is still a resource, and one that is fun to mess with when a civilization can justify it.

To me, an Age game is an RTS game with a goofy personality that puts too much detail into everything and doesn’t understand the concept of too much when it comes to new mechanics and new factions.

Aside from the base mechanics that have been touched upon (Town Center, villagers, resources, etc.) that all the Age games share, I mostly want to add that the Age games each have a unique personality when it comes to how they’re presented to the audience;
Age of Mythology gives their mythic units faux scientifc names and goes heavily in-depth on the history (fake or otherwise) of the characters within it.
Age of Empires 3 has a flair for the dramatic, with its ridiculously large and overly-detailed maps and scenery and the sheer volume of unique techs within the game, and the diverse set of factions present.
Age of Empires 2 focuses on remaining simplistic, but appeals to the nostalgia factor for its players that it can consistently deliver upon and refresh with every expansion.
(I can’t say for Age of Empires 1, I’ve never played it.)

Age of Empires 4 lacks this inherent personality that the other games deliver to the audience - there’s no goofiness to the game, and there’s no indication the game knows it takes itself too serious and has fun with it the way the previous titles to. From the overly-simplistic UI that focuses on readability over fun to the repetitive backdrops the maps get made on, the game lacks the basic personality traits that the Age franchise overall is known for.

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Cannon balls can theoretically be dodged in AoE3 because they don’t hitscan but they are just too fast.

Musket hits could also be (nearly) instant but still have a chance to miss.

But neither were bows nor crossbows.
Soldiers usually just shot at an enemy formation in the hops of hitting someone within it. No archer on the battlefield tired to snipe one enemy.

Rifles are a different story. They just lost their value after gunpowder smoke covered the battlefield.

I’m not sure if it was possible to design an AoE game without population limit.
Without any limits would be absurd, you could just spam half the maps with farms and have infinite food.

AoE1 was designed with 50 population limit in mind. AoE2 with 75.
Most players choose to play at the max population of 200 so that become standard. The population limit was manly a resource limitation back then. I bet we would have 250 standard today it that would have been the limit.
AoM had 300 but that is hard to reach and most military units cost 2 or more population. AoM also introduced a villager limit.
As one of the first 3D RTS I think that was likely a technical limitation too.

AoE3 has the fixed 200 population (220 for Chinese), also a villager limit but there are also units from Minor civilisations which have their own limit and don’t cost population and neither do ships. Most military units cost 1 population but many cost more.
I think that was also because of technical limitations again. AoE3 didn’t release much later after AoM but already allowed practically twice as many units while having a lot more detailed graphics.

Can’t talk about AoEO because I never played it.

AoE2HD added a max population of 500 but that didn’t become standard.

AoE4 went back to 200 and mostly 1 population, even for strong units like knights. Only really big units (elephants, siege and ships) cost more population. So I guess an AoE2/3 hybrid.
So AoE4 is the first (ignoring AoEO) game in the series that chooses a population limit for gameplay reasons instead of technical ones.

There could be alternatives to a fixed population limit.
A fixed villager (or generally economic unit) limit but no army limit. You still need to build houses but you can theoretically spam the whole map with them. You couldn’t build a super large army that way either because you can’t have the resources because of the villager limit.
There could also be other “soft” caps like every house cost more then the previous one to build. At some point one house costs >1000 wood.
Or like in WC3 were your resource production gets lower when you have a high population. For example for each population over 200 you resource production would go down by 1%. You could theoretically build 300 population but you would get punished very heavily.

There are other popular RTS that don’t have a population limit (or it’s so high that you practically can’t reach it) like CnC3.

I’m not sure how essential a population limit is to AoE, population management is relatively essential but then again you have the Huns, Lakota and Mongols that start with max population and remove the houses for the game.

In fact AoE 3 does have 4 resources, only one is intangible: Second dancers / ceremonial (Native Americans), Export (Asian) and Influence (Africans) …

I have put like 120 hours to the AoEO only in Steam and I tell you that it is 100% AoE, more than the 4 even… you have an town center, 4 ages (copper, bronze, silver and gold),resources deposites, fortresses (which would be the castles of the game), but also asymmetrical civs, consumables (which would be like the cards / powers of AoE3 / AoM) and a capital that you can customize (aka the metropolis of aoe 3) and of course you can not miss the treasures (which during the game are only 3 per game)…

Age of Empires: Who are you?

Empire Earth: I’m your cousin but with more ages and resources xd…

Of course, that’s true, it’s one thing to dodge an arrow, that within everything if you move you can dodge it and another thing a shot that comes straight at you, although there were times when the first arquebuses missed their shots…

Of course, in fact until the invention of the minie rifle you could still dodge bullets if you were fast enough… after that, it was impossible for you to dodge a bullet unless you confused the shooter…

That is true, although rare that we never consider population as a resource…

Of course, I wouldn’t have said it better…

Yes, in fact a cannonball ripped off your leg or head…

Of course, and with that slowly began to distance the combat between enemies…we went from sword clashes to sniper chases…

AoEO is the same as AoE 3,with 200 of pob and units occupying more than one of the population…

Yes, it can be… although in AoE 4 you now have mods to increase the population up to 1000 per player…

Yes,it’s a whole topic…then you have the Russians or the Chinese in aoe 3 or the English with the Wynguard Palace or the Mongols with the Khaganate Palace in aoe 4 who create not per unit but directly per batch…

Dodging projectiles is not the same as missing. In addition, the arrows could be dodged because the arrows were not shot directly in all cases. They were thrown in an arched way through the air so that they had a greater reach.

Inaccuracy and dodging etc in AOE3 (maybe also 4) are already incorporated into the counter multipliers and defenses.

E.g. skirmishers assume a skirmishing formation (though not perfectly represented) so they have ranged defense. Musketeers assume a close formation (not perfectly represented either) so they take more damage from ranged fire.

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Of course, let’s say skirmishers are light units that fired faster than standard heavy infantry (men in arms in aoe 2/musketeers in aoe 3)…