Natural progression or change of the essence of the game?

So with the latest DLC a lot of changes happened and there was a lot of debate about if civs are OP or not. I, for one dont care that much about if the civs are op or not, but notice a much more worrysome development. That the game further and further changes into something different.
Previous add ons have introduced changes that were very against what AoE is (konnik, unique buildings, second feudal tc, feudal siege workshop, unique units and upgrades as teambonus, infinite fish traps and faster age up. ) and it worked some what out. Some of them were necessary to add diversity to the game and not recycle the same bonus in different flavours, others as the konnik, cuman Mercenaries and paper money I still consider too gimmicky, the konnik is the only one that actually has impact on the game and is not just a boring tech thats rarely ever used. So maybe im overreacting here, but more single use techs just feel boring and off, it feels more like AoE3 than AoE2. Converting vills to military? Charge attack for cavalry? Military units constructing buildings? Just doesnt feel like AoE anymore.
But in addition to that they also change mechanics of the game like foundation scouting. Now most people probably consider this a good thing as it was a bug. But what else might come as a bugfix? AoE mechanics are so complex it is impossible to know what mechanics are intended and which are bugs. The delete bug of mangonels for example i consider to be a good thing for the game, as it balances out hill advantage, I think the game would be worse without it, but it might be removed next. Although these things are bugs they have been core mechanics of the game for decades.

So what do you think? Are the devs improving and diversifying the game, or are they changing too much in a way it becomes an entirely different game?
Also: if there ever were to come a classic mode, where would you set the limit? Which do you think is the best version of AoE to date?

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i’m not a fan of the way the new unique techs work at all, being essentially one offs that reek of aoe 3.

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Yes, I agree. I don’t think that these one-time techs really fit into the game. I prefer permanent-bonus techs. I would be fine if they would keep the flemish militia thing, but every other tech should be reworked.

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Personally i think the flemish revolution is the worst of all, for balance reasons. Playing as a cav player you pretty much cant do ■■■■ if someone suddenly has 120 champion halbs. But well that part is balancing and can be changed, but i really dislike that you can now suddenly train a bunch of unit all at once. Kind of destroys the way counterplay used to work. I thought about this with the cuman mercenaries, that it would be some what useful if all 10(?) kipchaks were trained at once, but also thought back then already that this would be probably too op and AoE3 like.

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To be fair, the Burgundian UTs got reworked to give some kind of long term effect. Yes, they’re situational, but in my opinion we can only be happy about continuous support for the game which come in form of patches, expansions and events. Just look at how AOE1:DE got treated. Would you like that to happen for AOE2:DE?

The new expansion might be slightly more expensive than the former ones but it’s still reasonably priced, especially considering that we basically got an expansion pack for free with the DE.

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Im not talking about if new content is good or not, or if its overpriced. Im talking about if the changes add to the game or transform it into something that isnt AoE2 anymore.
Personally I like the balance changes of this update but i hate the unique techs and building constructing unit of the DLC.

I would be happier if the devs had abandoned the game balance and content wise after or before this balance update over them changing the game into something different. But I also am notoriously sceptical about changes, so my views on this might be a bit extreme.

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Unique buildings isn’t really a new thing though and even the original Ensemble devs were kinda bold with their boni (no house Huns) and civ designs (addition of no cav civs and they even considered adding Inuit in the game) so I think it’s very much in the spirit of the game but well, we probably have different opinions on that regard.

I don’t like single use UT’s either but they can be well done (Flemish Revolution is an interesting concept in the AOE2 universe once it will get balanced) or not (still not the biggest fan of Paper Money to be honest).

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TBH, the new techs do not feel like AOE3 either.
In AOE3 the one time shipments are optional, and you can choose not to include them in your deck. Revolution is one option besides age-up, and you can choose not to click on it. Eventually every player has 25 shipments and all Europeans can choose whether to age-up or revolt.
In AOE2 each civ only has two unique technology, and you do not choose what to include. If you have one-time techs for these you can only choose to go all-in and lose the advantage if you fail.

If you really want to compare it to AOE3, it’s like a civ that can only revolt in age 4 and cannot age-up to age 5.

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However, speaking of the “essence” of AOE, are you talking about the essence of AOE2, or the essence of AOE2: the Conquerors?
Considering the total number of unit types and resource types, you’ll eventually run out of all possible combinations of bonuses and traits. As a result if the dev wants to expand it further, the only choice is to introduce new contents beyond the “essence of the game”.

I did not compare it to any specific mechanic in AoE3, so im not sure what you are going on about.
The techs are also optional, and not a must. Nobody forces you to use them. Look at the Huns, they have/had two unique techs that were almost never used and still had above 50% win rate across all elos. Having a unique tech and not using it doesnt automatically makes your civ weak.

However, speaking of the “essence” of AOE, are you talking about the essence of AOE2, or the essence of AOE2: the Conquerors?

As I’ve sad above, other things that were a massive change have been introduced before, and I am not sure at what stage I would put a classic mode either. Yes, new does not automatically mean bad, but it can be. It wouldnt be the first time that a game died because of a content or balance update. This is something happening somewhat frequently with other games.
Let’s see what Gimmicks were introduced with the 4 new civs of the Last Khans, that were truely never seen before? Feudal age rams, Feudal age TC, a unit ignoring armor and the Konnik.
Kreposts are a unique building and cheaper castle. Unique building existed before and Franks have cheaper castles, Steppe lancers with their higher range existed in the form of Kamayuks.

Compare that to: TCs spawn military, military can construct a tower that can produce that unit, all villagers get instant converted to a strong infantry unit, all food gets converted to gold and farmers collect gold, you gain gold for each military unit, a Cavalry unit with a charged attack and a little bit less unique but still different: Castle age Cavalier, Eco upgrades on age earlier…

It’s just two civs, but they are jam-packed with never before seen mechanics.

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If nobody uses a tech it is generally called a “bad design”, regardless of the overall civ being weak or not.
In AOE3 you have several badly designed shipments that are rarely used, but everyone eventually has 25 useful shipments. In AOE2 however you only have two unique techs. If one of them are useless, you end up with only one while others have two. This is not a fair game.

In the Conquerors, they introduced infantry that behave like cavalry, suicide siege units, and TCs that cost stone, that we’ve truly never seen before.

The point I’m trying to make here is “new can be bad but does not automatically mean bad”:

  1. This particular new content is bad imo.
  2. However, with 30+ civs, almost all the possible combinations of bonuses have been covered. The only way to expand the game further is to go beyond the current mechanics, even though the actual implementation can be bad.
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It still can be a fair game, because your over civ bonusses can be enough to make it a strong civ, thus my example of huns.

The point I’m trying to make here is “new can be bad but does not automatically mean bad”:

So we agree then. As I said, I dont think all the changes that have come before were bad.

some of the new bonuses might seem silly, but AoK/AoC had that too. for example, the hun population bonus was the most fun way to play the game even if building houses is the “essence of the game” (i personally think they should give that bonus to more civs because it’s just so fun compared to house-spam)

the more radical change to essential gameplay (not small balance things) is that they added a bunch of closed maps and scenarios to ladder. nowadays everyone cries whenever a farming civ is slightly strong because 90% of the ladder maps are about farming. i’m not saying they’re wrong to cry, but the new stuff is not busted if you play on actually good RM maps instead of these artificial scenarios like arena

the RM mode was supposed to have a lot of diverse strategies. go look at the full random map list. arena and fortress were left out. black forest was left out. those maps are meant to be fun, not serious, because they close off a bunch of strategies that were supposed to be supported

meanwhile, a lot of the DE maps are basically pre-explored because they’re always the same. scouting and adapting getting chipped away is regression, not progression. even something like nomad is losing its identity because they keep removing all the variety from it

unique units and unique techs are a decent place to put the gimmicks because you’re supposed to be able to prevent players from affording all that late-game stuff. but the problem isn’t really the UUs/UTs. instead, the problem is that ladder is full of maps like arena or maps that you can easily turn into arena, where the whole concept of prevention/counterplay barely even exists

I agree, everyone is talking about balance while I’m stuck processing all these “creative” additions. And releasing 6 civs in the span of a ~year… wtf. Really dissapointing.

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I think that single-use unique techs are more of a bad design decision than anything which fundamentally changes the game - single-use unique techs will either be UP or OP and there is barely a middle ground.

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I still wonder WHY they had to keep the one time effects. Getting farmers that can farm GOLD and unlocking a pikeman/champion hybrid are both effects that could be worth a UT by themselves, it was the perfect opportunity to change their mind completely…

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because aoe3 hype, clearly everyone loves aoe3.

To be honest, AOE3 isn’t as bad as everybody makes it out to be. The Macro and overall game speed as well as the home city card mechanic could be reworked respectively dropped, but the more unique civs is kinda a big selling point.

I like Wars of Liberty a lot.

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your right, but on the other hand it clearly isn’t as good as aoe2 and the data has supported that basically since aoe3 went live.

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A Definitive Edition of AOE3 will still be AOE3, no matter what you do. That’s why I like the major reworks Wars of Liberty does.

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