I agree that the FE team’s intention when they launched the DE version of the first game wasn’t to transform it on Age of Empires II! The problem, as I see it, is that the game still is far behind of its modern equivalents on some key gameplay aspects.
All the game flaws revolve around the feeling that the player haven’t enough commands at his disposal to be in full control of everything. I think this resume the core problem of the game’s design that still endures on the DE version.
As I said, as someone who play this game since 2000’s, I always thought of my catapults firing indiscriminately at enemies, most of the time hurting or killing my own units, annoying as ■■■■. The absence of gates in the walls is another example of a limitation of the game that never made sense for me. The enemy, one way or another, ends inside of your base, killing your villagers, when you have your attention somewhere else.
I hope the developers will turn their attention to this game again in the future, adding new functions to it and correcting those flaws that makes it feel old and unpolished.