It almost makes you feel sorry to see how AoE IV still struggles.
For me, however, this is no surprise.
I got into the series with AoE II and loved the game from the first second.
In fact, I hardly ever played it competitively. I guess I’m the classic casual gamer who played all the campaigns and thousands of rounds with friends against the AI.
I also found AoE III quite good at the time, even if it could never completely convince me.
Nevertheless, it was absolutely clear that AoE IV would get a chance, no matter what kind of game came out in the end.
The problem with AoE IV seems to be that it can’t really cater to any of the play styles.
The developers seem to have tried to make it more of a competitive game, without really doing that well (at least that seems to be the overwhelming opinion of many other forum posts; I can’t judge that myself).
On the other hand, with the focus on competitive gameplay, they’ve kind of forgotten about casual gamers.
In the end, it seems to me that neither side is really satisfied (of course I am happy for anyone who enjoys AoE IV).
AoE 2 did a much better job of making both sides happy, in my opinion.
That seems to me to be one of the main reasons why it couldn’t be killed.
On the one hand, there were the many “hardcore” gamers who remained loyal to the game, but - if I look around at my circle of friends alone - there were also a great number of casual players who always started a version (whether original, HD, DE) to have a round of fun with friends.
If you want to inherit the legacy of a milestone like AoE 2 (which is generally considered the best part of the series), then you simply have to deliver a game that is above average in all areas.
It’s not enough if the gameplay and the technical foundation work great. Everything else has to be perfect as well.
And there are simply too many points in AoE IV that leave you perplexed.
What gets me as a casual player, for example, is that the developers force their view of how the game should be played on you in too many points, where AoE 2, for example, gives you more freedom. Give the games more options to shape the game to their liking (be it just victory conditions, popcaps, player colours, diplomacy and and).
There may be a standard configuration for the ranking etc., but let the players in individual games choose!
It may have become a passable game, but that is not enough to become a resounding success.