Let's take a look at the situation by Stronghold: Warlords, is AoE4 going to have same fate?

Let’s take a look at the situation by Stronghold: Warlords, is AoE4 going to have same fate?

Stronghold Franchise has been for years a rival RTS installment to AoE Series.
Stronghold: Warlords is like AoE4 an RTS set in Middle Ages with base build.

Paid critics did give it very high rating like 80 by GameWatcher, TheGamer, Multiplayer.it and Eurogamer. And most ratings are by around 70.

And we see by this newest 2021 AAA RTS, as usual that the real reception isn’t quite positive,

mixed steam ratings, 40% of people did give bad review. And games online population is probably going to die fast as well. Despite Steam having now more users than ever and it has been a while since a new AAA RTS, this game has 2000 people less at launch than its predecessor from 2014.

So its clear at this point the game did fail.


Comparison - Steam Charts
Save 10% on Stronghold: Warlords on Steam
Stronghold: Warlords for PC Reviews - Metacritic

What went wrong? Why weren’t the experienced people behind Stronghold: Warlords able to please the modern day market? And are we going probably to see the same situation by Age of Empires 4 as well?


How I feel each time I see a @Huge5000RTSFan’s post;



One of the major challenges that is faced by rts industry is probably categorization not general classification. E.g. Stronghold, Settlers, Tropico type rts usually falls into the category of playing micro management of social, economic and military affairs of the Kingdom/State other then possible combat. Whereas AoE franchise doesnot falls into the category of micro management other then possible combat. The market share and ratings has to be diivded on the basis of this categorization.

Hahahaha AoE Doomsday Preppers. 11

  1. The Asian setting: Stronghold is well known as a medieval strategy game taking place in Europe and “Arabia”. Many people don’t like Asian setting.
  2. Graphics and animations look like the game was released 10 years ago.
  3. Almost no video messages from the enemies like in older Stronghold games. No real cutscenes in campaigns
  4. There are only a few characters you can play against
  5. No big maps and you cannot build on areas of Warlords

But to be fair: Stronghold Warlords is better than Stronghold 3 or Stronghold Crusader 2 and is a step in the right direction.


we literally don’t have beta or much more Information about aoe4 so how do you want from me to tell if the game gonna have the same fate as stronghold warlords?

Apparently for years developers are not able to deliver games people want.

Just because it’s better, doesn’t mean it’s good.

1 Like

I don’t think we could call Stronghold Warlords a triple A title. The team behind it doesn’t have neither the finances nor the manpower to raise to such status.

I haven’t played it, but from what I’ve watched and read, they kinda lost the identity of what Stronghold series used to be. It’s a more diluted experience. The Asian setting didn’t really help either. They came up with something which is not what the fans wanted. I don’t see you building the precise elements of a big medieval castle there, which is what I think people came to expect from this franchise.

And I’ve read an interesting refference to AoE in the pcgamer review where they say they also tried to borrow mechanics from AoE and go into that territory:

By leaving behind the safety of its castle walls, Stronghold has ventured out into a field where Age of Empires still reigns supreme.

So if this is the case, it just proves my point. It should have stayed Stronghold. You can’t compete against AoE with what AoE does. It’s David vs Goliath.

Also, their choice for the trully dated looking 3D graphics (I understand they didnt have the budget for more, but they could have stayed with a nice looking 2D) didn’t help either. It really does look outdated even to the unfamiliar eye.

1 Like

Bro, I hope not. I want Age IV to success. New Stronghold game is a huge let down from Gameplay value perspective. The game came in bad time too- there were Reddit and Steam threads boycotting the game because it has a manipulated Chinese history…which showed china holding more territory than they should. Then other threads said they won’t play because CCP spread covid-19 and ruined the world. Rest said graphics are pretty outdated. Other people said they didn’t listen to the community.

Pretty much I feel like the fan base was pretty upset with this game.

1 Like

I would say it’s just okay or casual. So yes, it’s not a good game, but at least no disaster like Stronghold 3

From the looks so far the graphics of AoE4 look better then Stronghold Warlords and I think they are more likely to improve then to get worse

Haven’t played it but the ‘amost no messages from the enemy’ is really a shame, I found the interactions with the different characters in the first stronghold often amusing

The sudden move away from it’s classical setting was a bold choice, a risk that didn’t seem to pay off. While I personally wouldn’t have minded the Asian setting, moving away from what one successfully did in the past is rarely a good idea.

Which is a problem which AoE in turn won’t have since it is all over Eurasia anyway.


I hate it so much when people use this as an argument to rate a game badly. As long as things look passable, who cares, it’s the gameplay (and its mechanics) that should be fun! And of course the game should be stable and not crash.


A matter of fact is…most people don’t have expensive PCs, so am not sure what’s the point of having gorgeous graphics if they can’t even run it. Performance > Graphics and Gameplay > Graphics. Period.

1 Like

It’s not that simple.
A game is as good as the worst part.
If the gameplay and the performance is good but it looks bad people won’t play it. All 3 aspects have to be good. Different people value different aspects more.
A competitive person is more likely to accept worse graphics because they get their enjoyment from the competition with other players but someone who wants to immerse likes good graphics.
My spearman icon killed the enemy horseman icon is not as fun as seeing your spearman killing that horseman.

Good graphics are also often more related to the effort of the developers than to the raw resource cost. Baked lighting for example looks better than real time lighting and has much better performance but you have the developer has to make the effort of baking the light.

Most people don’t have expensive PC, yes but most gamers have decent PCs.
Steam Hardware Survey shows us that a 4 Core CPU and 16 GB of memory are standard now. The most common GPU is an GTX 1060 and a 1080p monitor. That’s not a bad computer. Also people that have newer PCs are also more likely to invest more into games. People with higher res monitors will likely have better GPUs so that’s not really an issue.

RTS have a big advantage for optimisation. You have a fixed viewing angle with a fixed distance to the ground. Units have to look good in that situation. Look at AoE3DE buildings from the back, they all look relatively empty and boring. In some cases you can even see inside when you tilt the camera down. But no one cares because you always look from the top and you don’t rotate the buildings in a match.

It’s not about sacrificing good graphics for good performance it’s more about optimising the game.

The only thing that everyone can agree on is that bugs are bad (unless you are a speedrunner).


AoE4 is a AAA game which has to make graphics, gameplay and stability best for current generation. Just look at Halo Wars 2, it has the best graphics as an RTS and released in Feb 2017. Now we are 4 years ahead of HW2, of course we would expect better in every aspect.

1 Like

Good points. I agree friend, however, the graphics are suitable for what it is trying to do. You can have a lot of details with decent graphics, Sims 2 is a great example. Likewise. Terraria is a good game despite ultra-hard-core graphics. Valheim is good despite good graphics. And there are many many more! I respect your opinion, and the time you took to write a good post.

100% yes to → “The only thing that everyone can agree on is that bugs are bad.” And ripping off is bad too. No Microtranactions!

And it will be better! Let’s wait and see. April 10 is not far away. Hopefully I am wrong. Overall, I do believe the graphics will serve its purpose. Or I can expect the game being priced well if the graphics are REALLY sloppy.

I think it’s not wrong to make market research,
by simply to look what are peoples actual complaints by RTS games?


AI has seen improvements but not on the level developers claimed. having pathfinding issues

At a glance, the art direction is befitting the new setting, albeit oversaturated.
It’ll probably age even worse than the older titles. Grass pops out when fully zoomed out, textures are flat and look blurry

Bugs & Issues
No hotkey rebinds at the time of writing this review


The Semi-realistic graphics of Stronghold 2 and 3 have now been exchanged with poorly done cartoon-like designs that are nowhere near what you would expect in 2021. The entire thing is just cheep and lazy.

The maps probably are the smallest out of all the games in the series. Even though they changed the size of buildings to very small, you still have extremely condensed castles that just look very bad. Overall do map-size, graphics and UI remind one of a mobile game and definitely not of a RTS-Game for PC.
The troop diversity is extremely low.

War Pig

Army Population cap: 150
Maybe try making it higher next time? Good lord.


I was looking forward to this game, but its so terrible simplistic compared to stronghold crusader. and its missing skirmish maps, it only has 8 or 9. and only 4 AI to choose between. big thumb down.


A lot of the castle building seems very watered down compared to their previous games.
-Lacking content
-Your building room is very limited
The AI is very boring.


Poor execution.
Game is sluggish on 8 player maps.
Unit limit is horribly low in large maps.

So lets take a look, what the developers did update?

Stronghold: Warlords v1.1 Update

-Added Extreme! difficulty to both Skirmish and Campaign modes.
-Total troop limit in skirmish/multiplayer is increased.
-Motion blur can now be disabled
-Added a new 2 player skirmish map

Indeed it is not. Games tend to have a limited budget. If you spend too highly on one particular aspect, the rest suffers, since you can only allocate so much money to each team/project.

In my opinion, if AoE4 graphics look about as good as AoE2 DE or 3 DE, most people probably won’t complain. I wouldn’t. Just give me a fun game to play. RTS players on average tend to be less fussy about graphics than other gamers (otherwise, why would a 20 year old game still be popular in the first place ?) I get why an RPG wants to have graphics as good as possible, but I think for an RTS, going above and beyond has very little return for investment.

I’m not saying that graphics should be made intentionally bad or something, but I just don’t mind if it’s not going to be anything flashy. I’ve seen too many games that have amazing graphics and otherwise full of bugs and bad gameplay experience.

Making a balanced and fun game is actually not that easy. Coming up with numbers is really an art in itself, and requires quite a lot of testing and experimenting. I’d much rather see them put effort into making fun and balanced mechanics, exciting and fun campagins, a decent selection of civilization (no one likes a dumbed down sequel for a game) and a game that generally isn’t oversimplified (selection of units, buildings, map sizes, map types should be varied)


Every team has their own roles. Graphics, models, visual stuff not related to balance or gameplay. I’m not asking for call of duty graphics. But just look at halo wars 2 which is also a Microsoft game and it looks great.