To me the campaign design of older AOEs is actually more appealing than their gameplay. The reason I still open AOE2 (even 1) occasionally is the campaigns.
For example, there are multiple scenarios where you are faced with a large map and multiple factions. You’re allowed to not only find different routes to complete the campaign objective, but also change your relations with them, by diplomatic switches or event triggers. That makes scenarios way more replayable.
I feel that design is kinda lost since AOM. Most campaign scenarios are limited to “defeat this” or “defend this”. There are allies or neutrals but they do not function much most of the time, besides being there or giving you some units/resources. There are not many ways of winning other than following a single objective route.
There are some good scenarios I really enjoy ngl. For example Little Bighorn (Greasy Grass) gives you some freedom of choosing which tribes to ally first and several options to weaken the enemy before the final battle. But I would be happy to see some more AOE2 styled scenarios as well.
One other difference is the scope. Since AOM most scenarios are restricted to one battle that the heroes participated in, which typically last a few days maybe. Some of the AOE1 or 2 scenarios however have a much broader scope. For example scenario 1 of Genghis Khan probably covers the events of several years and depicts maybe half of the Mongol steppe. That also gives much more interactions and interact-able factions.
I think the “historical maps” design has a lot of potentials. They do not depict a single event but multiple events over longer time period with more factions involved. By adding a few more secondary objectives, dialogues and triggers the can easily be reused as epic campaign scenarios.
If there are future campaign scenarios I hope this is considered.
This video somewhat makes a similar point. He’s talking about AOE4 but some features in the narrative style (which is to say the narrower scope of individual scenarios, with smaller maps and fewer factions) are the same. It could work for AOM and AOE3’s character-centric campaigns, but now combined with the WAY much broader timeline and huge space/time discontinuity in AOE4 it makes the campaigns less immersive.
Both styles have their advantages of course, and the AOE3 campaigns already follow the character-centric style that’s not going to change. But for future additions there could be a lot of interesting things to experiment with.
Of course, in aoe 3 the closest thing to a campaign of aoe 2 would be the campaign of nathaniel for covering several years (1775-1781) and the Chinese campaign for the number of enemy factions throughout the campaign (Japanese pirates, Indian sultan and the Aztecs)… then obviously the African historical battles and the European historical maps…
Of course, in fact the campaigns of AoE 4 actually being longer chronologically speaking no longer focus so much on protagonists but on timelines: eg the English campaign lasts 150 years covering all Anglo-Norman England (1066-1216), then the French campaign lasts the entire hundred years’ war (1351-1450), the Mongol Mongol expansion in China and Eastern Europe (1213-1273) and finally the Rus campaign that lasts more than 300 years (1238-1552) since the siege of Moscow in 1238 until the conquest of Kazan in 1552 by Ivan the Terrible thus connecting with AoE 3,let’s say AoE 4 campaigns are more like AoE 1 campaigns in that sense…
Yeah AoE3 campaigns are often a 1v1.
Allies are if they exist usually completely scripted and you usually only have one real enemy, everything else is just guards standing around or something like that.
AoE1 and AoE2 had a lot of scenarios with multiple different factions that acted on their own and sometimes you even had enemies that were enemies with each other.
Of course from AoM all the campaigns of the aoe have always been 1vs1, hopefully 3vs1…
Not entirely. Though the campaigns both cover long spans, AOE1 has several individual scenarios covering many years of events while AOE4 scenarios are mostly just one battle.
E.g. rise of Rome 01 covers all the events from the foundation of the republic to the conquest of most of Italy lasting 300 years, featuring Etruscans, Gauls, Semnites, in one scenario.
By AOE4’s design it would be several smaller scenarios where you mostly face one opponent: siege of Veii for one scenario, sack of Rome for one scenario, Volsci wars for 1-2 scenarios and Samnite wars for 1-2 scenarios.
Good point…in fact in aoe 4 the campaigns give more emphasis on the characters, although they do not say a single word, which is a pity; since in the campaigns of Relic the characters always speak during the in-game section…