TLDR: it is too dark.
Especially when you use blue, it basically becomes a dark blob from afar. You can only notice the player color from the front but not other directions.
The thing with black or other dark colors is that they don’t contrast colors very well. White is the direct opposite. “Player color on white” always works because it contrasts colors well. Almost half of the units in AOE2 have that color scheme.
For example, the Hungarian grenadier.
Even green or brown does better at contrasting other colors than darker ones.
Black rider is all-back as well, but the armour has metallic reflections, making them “less dark” so the player color still stands out (also you can put player colors on the horse)
If you look at the actual Old Guard uniform, it has red hat plume and red epaulette (where the in-game model puts the player colors on), but red is a color that stands out, while other colors do not really.
Also the pants should be white. Don’t know why the model uses black. The jacket is dark enough.
Some minor improvements to do:
- Increase the proportion of white, especially the pants.
- The color of the jacket could be softened a little bit.
- The plume and epaulette where the player color is on could be made proportionally bigger. You may also add the player color onto the cuff.
- A more radical thing to do is, as there are quite a few “darker uniform” units, the default blue color should be made brighter. I’ve manually tuned it a bit, but maybe it could be a default setting that is friendly to newcomers.
Disclaimer: in case someone uses this as a chance for “let’s return to the state where all units look the same for all civs so that I can remember” or “see you cannot make European uniforms unique”, I’m not suggesting overhauling the current model at all. I actually want it to stand out more and be more accurate.