You never tried multiplayer but completed all 191 achievements of Age of Empires 2? That is the “bread” of the game if you will, you missed like 90% of the game.
Sure, singleplayer is nice and the campaigns are nice, I have actually finished 3 campaigns myself and 1 co-op, but the bread and butter of the game is the multiplayer. The game Age of Empires 2 is the multiplayer.
And before someone comes in and calls me “elitist”, I don’t mean 1800 ELO multiplayer, I mean, multiplayer. You can have the same experience at ELO 500. It’s about that competition of troops, economy, strategy. Something that you can’t do in singleplayer where you just build yourself up, boom the economy and then go and fight with a full 100 Paladins, Champions, Arbaletists or unique warriors army.
Age of Empires 2 is more than that, and you can find that in multiplayer.
Don’t be sad if you lose, there’s a rank for everybody, and really out of all competitive games like Counter-Strike, Dota 2; Age of Empires 2 is the most fun competitive, you play for the experience more than you play for the win, so even at ELO 500 and even if you lose a lot of games, you will still have a great experience.
But yeah, a lot of multiplayer people can beat the Hard AI easily.
If you want to build up the courage, knowledge is your power, here are some videos to help you get started:
This is not ideal but it’s good enough for a beginner.
As a comment says: the most “normal” or “bland” civ is the best starting civ because once people learn the fundamentals of the game they can then learn how to specialize into other paths, like archers, knights, champions etc.
Counters are very important in AoE2.
Hope this helps building up the courage to go multiplayer ranked. And remember, if you want to be good at something, you have to start by not being very good. Failure is part of the learning process. It’s okay to fail, nobody was born learned.