In Age of Empires 2, the vast majority of all games played have been against the AI, and it’s these games that contain the real backbone of the playerbase.
I created this account because I enjoy playing vs AI in many games, and the AI in AoE 2 is the only one I’ve ever played that I could play over and over again, and I want to explain why I think this is.
Playing the AI in AoE feels completely different to playing against players, but It is different in a good way. Base building is fun, turtling is fun, and winning battles is fun. And the Age of Empires 2 AI always rewarded all of these. The AI would cheat early so you have huge waves of enemies and a high risk of losing soon after you start when you’re small and weak, but you always knew that if you could just curl up and keep fending off the enemies, eventually you were guaranteed to win because the AI eco became very inefficient late game so you could finally get strong, tidy up your base, fix your economy and slowly push out destroying every unit building and wall for the final victory, destruction of evil and culmination of your heroes journey that was immensely thrilling and satisfying. I have lots of memories of an exhilarating 2 hour game with a KD of 1000/30 in my fortress.
Th e difficulty curve was hard in fuedal but gradually getting easier through the castle age, with a ‘final boss’ difficulty spike when the enemies unlocked trebuchets, but if you managed to kill 5-10 of them you had virtually won and just had to do the victory lap and destroy the enemy base and fix up your own.
In conclusion although most RTS games hate turtles because they ruin the multiplayer, the Age of Empires AI loves turtles and gives them a very fulfilling experience. Which in my opinion is the single most important factor in Age of Empires unbelievable longevity, and Age of Empires IV would be wise to recreate this feeling.