Old AoE2 vs. New AoE2

Hello all. In this post, I am going to discuss the pros and cons of Age of Empires 2: Definite Edition (which I will refer to as “New AoE2”) and give my thoughts on how it is better(or worse) than Age of Empires 2: HD and all the previous expansions (“Old AoE2”). This will not be a perfect list, as there are so many things to cover and I have only been playing New AoE2 for a little over 2 weeks…but I do have a solid grasp on how to distinguish differences between Old and New AoE2…Now without further ado, let’s begin:

PROS of New AoE2

-->  The Building-collapse animations are really cool and spot on.  Much better than just the simple rubble microsecond animation of Old AoE2  

-->  Attack animations of units are AMAZING and feel much more realistic than the animations of Old AoE2.

--> The reworked music is great to listen to, and adding the special themes of each civilization gets into the music when you start a match, like playing Celts and getting the Scottish bagpipe music, or playing Byzantines and getting the Orthrodox priest chanting is so wonderful!

--> Adding special sprites of all the Hero characters.   Making Hero units more distinct from normal generic units is great.  Kushluk no longer looks like a European Cavalier, or Attila the Hun no longer a Byzantine Cataphract. 

--> Adding a halo-glow around each Hero unit.   At first, I thought that this feature was unnecessary and would prove a distraction to my eyes during me playing Campaigns....but I have grown accustomed to it, and I do like the idea behind implementing it so that players can easily identify the Hero characters (especially if you are playing a Campaign that requires you to keep the Hero alive).

--> The jousting lances of several Heroes such as El Cid, Duke Alencon, Reynold de Chatillon, etc. look a lot more realistic and less gigantic.   If there is one thing that Old AoE2 was disappointing in, it was in making the lance weapons look ridiculously big.  

--> Many of the only glitches/problems of Campaigns have been fixed. 

--> All the changes put into balancing certain powerful civilizations to keep them on par with all the other civs.....now, I do not want to get into the specifics, but let's just say that I carefully looked through ALL Changelogs of ALL the Civs (took my 2 long hours to read it all!) and most of the changes I agree with are good ones. New AoE2 feels a lot more balanced than Old AoE2.

--> Nerfing tower rushing in Feudal Age.....I love this change a lot.   In Old AoE2, it was difficult to beat Korean or Spanish tower rushing.  Now, in New AoE2, it is easier.

--> Adding seasonal trees.   In New AoE2, there is now trees in Autumn, and even the terrain may generate to be in the Autumn season, and this feature I enjoy a lot.  In Old AoE2, especially the Age of Kings days.....everything was either Spring or Summer season (with no clear distinction between the two).  Later, Old AoE2 (Age of Conquerors and all the other expansions leading up to HD) Snow terrain and Snow trees were added....but seeing New AoE2 with Autumn trees and terrain really is a head-turner for me.

--> New civilizations.  I like the fact that there are new civs in the game. 

--> Automatic Farm reseeding and Automatic Scouting.   It it awesome that New AoE2 makes it easier to do less button pressing for the reseeding, and for scouting, I love the fact that I can have my scout just run around and continue scouting when I no longer need to actively scout for resources, but I do still want to explore the map. 

--> Changing the architecture of the Vietnamese to "East Asian".

--> Giving Meso-American civs the chance to recruit cavalry in the form of the Xolotl Warrior from converted enemy Stables.   This is a clever addition.  And luckily, it is based on some truth in history: some Meso-American peoples attempted to domesticate horses in the hopes of beating the Spanish invaders on their own playing field, and at least one Meso-American monarch, an Incan Emperor, was interested in acquiring horses from the Europeans. 

--> The expanded Options.   The Options is so extensive in New AoE2 that it is very pleasing....a player can adjust music, graphics, etc. a lot more than in Old AoE2. 

--> Much of the original Taunt commands and sounds still exist!  Plus, MORE commands were added!

--> Voice acting is improved and expanded.

--> The Ranking System and the Lobby Browser.   I love how New AoE2 has the Ranking System in place so that you can match up with players equal or comparable to your ELO...but moreover, the devs have keep the old Lobby Browser system of Old AoE2 and brought it over to New AoE2.  

--> The Tutorial "Art of War".   A very nice feature that adds on the lessons taught in the William Wallace Campaign in teaching the player how to manage playing the game. 

--> The Challenge Scenarios, monthly/seasonal rewards, and Player Icons.   The Challenge Scenarios are one of my favorite parts about New AoE2, challenging players to demonstrate their AoE skills.   The seasonal rewards are also neat in giving each player seasonal player icons to earn.   And speaking of player icons, they are cool in that each player can show off their favorite civ, or just select a icon that they enjoy...or whatever.  It is a nice littler feature added in, and though some of the Player Icons have huge requirements to unlock (like 500 games playing as Britons to get the Red Longbowman Icon), it is cool in that they encourage players to play the game and to play certain civs. 


–> The Pause/Unpause feature. This is very irritating: players can unpause the moment a player pause the game. Like, what if a player needs to take a serious dump in the toilet, or has to let our their dog to a ■■■■, or get the package from the postman? Now, I can understand that the game devs of New AoE2 may want to prevent LONG pauses from players who use stalling tactics in a game, or because they want to be idiotic…whatever, it is wrong I feel to give players the ability to cancel a pause of another player. You might as well get rid of the Pause feature if that is the case. But I find that the Old AoE2 Pause feature to still be fine as it was.

–> Game balancing issues. The fact that there are now 35 civs in the game means that it is a challenge to keep all the civs balanced. While I personally love that there are a lot of civs to represent as much of the medieval world as possible in this game that is supposed to represent the medieval era in the first place…on a game balancing standpoint, I acknowledge that it means that the game can turn out of control if the game devs are not too careful. This is why Old AoE2 can still be appealing as there are less civs in previous iterations of AoE2.

–> The Scottish voice actor for the William Wallace campaign is terrible…the only VA that I truly do NOT appreciate in New AoE2. I miss the Old AoE2 Scottish VA. :cry:

–> Byzantine Architecture was changed to Mediterranean. I do not like this change…while yes, it is somewhat better than having the Byzantines with Middle Eastern architecture in Old AoE2, in New AoE2, I think that the Byzantines deserve their own architecture style. I mean, if the Indians can get their own architecture…why not the Byzantines as well? The Italians and the Byzantines were not exactly identical in architecture. Similar maybe…but not identical. There are enough differences between the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Mediterranean to warrant the creation of two separate architecture builds. Keep Spanish, Portuguese, and Italians with the white-washed colored “Western Mediterranean” architecture set and give the Byzantines a “Eastern Mediterranean” architecture set.

–> Relics are harder to see. In Old AoE2, I find it very easy to notice a relic when your screen passes over it. In New AoE2, it is somewhat harder to notice a relic. I assume this is because the color white is lowered in its brightness in DE…but I could be wrong.

–> The flaming spear (Chemistry researched) from Skirmishers and Genitours. Of all the throwing projection animations, the one of the flaming spear is the least likeable one for me. In Old AoE2, I liked that the flaming spear looked like a red-hot iron spear, as it the Skirmishers/Genitours furance-heated their spear points before throwing them at the enemy.

–> Japanese Samurai animation and design. I miss the Old AoE2 Samurai design…and it saddens me that New AoE2 gets rid of the seppuku-stab animation that Old AoE2 Samurai used to have. I liked that animation.


I really like Definite Edition.  I have been playing Old AoE2 since I was a youngster, and I am very nostalgic....but I did get Definite Edition as I was final convinced by friends and in watching online reviews of it that it was really good.  I am glad that my money was not in vain....but in all honestly, I do have a few issues with the "New AoE2" as I have expressed in the Con section above.   Fortunately, many of the Pros make me appreciate DE enough to continue to play it.  

Now let me ask you:  what do you think of DE's "New AoE2"?   What have I not mentioned in the Pros and Cons lists that you would have added yourself?  Comment below!

Whoa! I had no idea that the “~~~~~” lines that I typed to separate the Pro and Con section would form scroll-downs. Lol :laughing:

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Has always been there. And for good reasons…


I hopped on HD for a game tonight since DEs servers were down. I’ve played 1500 hours on HD on steam, and after playing DE for just 10 months I can say the HD is basically unplayable. DE is a huge upgrade despite any flaws.


Biggest pro for me is Shift queueing and mix queueing Army/vills and techs.

When I went back to HD for a while, these two made the biggest difference for me.


Pros of HD? My laptop can handle it.


The biggest thing I miss from old versions is the different attack animations for infantry units depending on which direction they were facing. [In DE there is only 1 attack animation per unit] Two-Handed Swordsman’s downward slash and Huskarls stabbing/slashing animations were among my favorite, and Teutonic Knight downward slash was better than just stabbing everything without ever using the blade.

The Samurai’s animations were also very cool, mainly because they had a broad slash for cutting villagers in half and a double slash. I liked the animations so much I would sometimes make scenarios playing as heroes only or a single custom hero like Theodoric the God.

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What everyone should see is how many click you need to do for the same stuff. Every player seem scare to auto some stuff but they love what is auto. Does any one complain today that villager after build a lumber camp go to cut wood? All this improvment make the game enjoyable in the 21th century. If the game will be continue to be play in 5 or 10 years it’s because the game will be improve. I hope they will add some auto stuff because AOE it’s a strategic game not a clicker game. They have understand it with the Definitive but I hope they will continue on this way.
Who really use fishing trap before definitive without malay? No one. Why because click click click…

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I actually disagree,
Especially the William Wallace campaign had very cheesy voice acting

This is not meant to be taken as an offense to the OG games, but the voice acting aged for them

I agree, the new one does have its flaws

But the OG acting became a meme

MENATARMS and La Hire’s quotes were cheesy that became memes

The cheesy quotes were a huge part of the game’s fun. Isn’t the fact that those moments are remembered at all a good sign? At least the sillier, more playful moments are undergirded by other moments that feel more serious and dramatic.

The ONLY thing that i missed is campaign’s voices

AND, of course famous Genghis khans’s voice actor : Rick May.

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Rick May also gave us John Fastolf and his quaint army of rams line, the childish ruler of Cairo who decides to ally with the Franks, and Jean Bureau and his French cannons.

Personally, I was surprised there wasn’t a special event mod that brought back May’s voice lines after his untimely passing. At least there’s a Steam Workshop mod that brings back the original AoC dialogue.

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Thank you all for your comments! It is interesting to hear all your thoughts about DE and HD.

Also: I remembered a “con” of DE that I forgot to mention in my original post: the decay animations. I miss the decay animations of HD. There, all units would decay until nothing but a pile of bones, rusted equipment and tattered clothes. But in DE, the dead units just “melt” into the ground until all that is left is some of their former equipment.


You can stop the melting with Visible Corpses mod :slightly_smiling_face:

Don’t really see why you are arguing with theoretical balancing issues. Most of the new civs are much better balanced than the old civs. Just compare how less opressive Ethiopians and Berbers are to Franks and Britons. Of course the old game has a “proven” balance but in the end especially Meso is a bit OP there and some civs that still struggle are a lot worse there. Another positive thing of DE compared to HD is how smooth it is.

Some cons: Less freedom in what maps you play in ranked (the queue is still a plus ofc), hitboxes are malfunctioning as well as pathing, no Friends list compared to Voobly, less freedom with mods, units have a less distinct look, continous new bugs, disconnects in TG

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They were fine for a 20-year-old game
But they needed a rework for a proper remaster

DE has been such a good thing for the franchise. The gameplay is much smoother, the graphical aspect is so clean and pleasent to see, and (at least in my experience with voobly) it’s much easier now to find and play a game.

However there are three things that I miss so bad about classic AoE:

  1. A “darker” game: I know I just praised the new look, and yes, I like it more. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but there was something with the classic aesthetics that gives the game like a darker ambience. Maybe it’s the colour palette or the low resolution,idk but when I see old gameplays it evokes a feeling or mistery and a dark atmosphere.
  2. The mods: Age of Chivalry, Realms, Tales of Middle Earth and many many more. Some of them incomplete or even bizzares. There was so much you can find in AoK heaven, reskins, architectures, buildings merged with one another in photoshop… It was a whole world to sink in. There was always something new to find.
  3. The game of the people: A game from 1999 that stood the test of time. It was like a legend alive. Age of Empires 2 was a game that everyone could play.In one hand, even the most outdated computer running windows XP could handle the game. I used to carry a pendrive everywhere with important stuff and there, occupying 700 mb, was AoE 2 ready to run in any computer available. Now if you want to play you have to own a medium-specs gaming computer. It may not be so for first world countries , but at least in my country not everyone can afford a computer able to run the game. In the other hand, the pirate cracked version could easily be found to download. If you wanted to invite a friend to the game the only thing he had to do was a 10 minutes download. Now It’s much harder to convince people to play. They usually refuse after I tell them they have to pay first.

Nevertheless, I don’t expect to play old AoE in a serious way ever again. DE has proved to be an improvement in almost every aspect.
Sorry for the TED talk, but I felt I had to share my thoughts.

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