[poll] Cosmetic DLC

One of my biggest issues with AoE2 is that all generic units for all civilisations look the same.
You have things like Aztecs Champions with plate armour and Mayan Crossbows.
Some of the generic units look very generic and work pretty much everywhere but some just look very unique.
The Man-At-Arms and Knight look English, the Hussar looks Polish (ironically they have a unique version of it), and generally most units look Western European.
Besides for the American civilisations it’s probably the worst for the African ones where all the units besides their unique ones and since recently the Trade Cart are white skinned.

Regional unit skins

I think it would be nice if each architecture set, or in some cases 2-3 architecture sets combined, would have unique skins for the generic units.

Would you want a regional unit skin DLC?
  • I would pay for it
  • Only if it was for free
  • No because of readability
  • No because of file size
  • No because of nostalgia
  • No because of other reasons

0 voters

If it’s a DLC instead of an update you can just choose to not install it.
One of the biggest concerns is readability. People are just too used to the original skins so they don’t want them to change.

Another concent is file size. A lot of people play AoE2DE on older machines or have bad internet connection. An update that would include a lot of new sprites would fill up their harddrive and maybe increase loading times.

Unique unit skins

Some civilisations have a lot of bonuses or unique technologies that change generic units so much that they basically become unique units.
Malian Cavaliers can rival Paladins while their Champions with extra piercing armour are very different from the Teutonic ones that have melee armour instead.
Most civilisations have 1 or 2 generic units they are especially good at.
Why not give every civilisation a unique skin for 1-2 generic units.

Would you want unique skins for generic units?
  • I would pay for it
  • Only if it was for free
  • No because of readability
  • No because of file size
  • No because of nostalgia
  • No because of other reasons

0 voters

I think this change could even improve readability. If you see the Frankish Paladin skin you know it’s getting serious.
Especially useful for team games where you have two different enemies, it would make you quicker at seeing what you deal with.

Some unique skins could also only be active after a unique technology is researched like for the Malian Cavaliers for example. This way you can instantly tell if they already got their attack upgrade or not.

Those unique skins could also only be small differences like giving the Frankish Paladin the civilisation Coat of Arms as a shield, keeping the silhouette and most of the unit the same.

Civilisation crest on generic units
I made a similar proposal a year ago.

Unique buildings

The newly added civilisations all have unique Castle skins while the old civilisations always share all their buildings besides their wonder with other civilisations.

Would you want unique skins for some buildings?
  • I would pay for it
  • Only if it was for free
  • No because of readability
  • No because of file size
  • No because of nostalgia
  • No because of other reasons

0 voters

What buildings would you want unique skins for
  • Only Castles
  • Any building, depending on the civilisation
  • All buildings
  • None

0 voters

It would be nice to give a unique skin to the building that trains the strongest units of a civilisation.
It could also be nice to make it more visible what kind of unit a civilisation would usually train. Some civilisations mainly use Archery Ranges for Cavalry Archers while others train a lot of Hand Cannons. Maybe this could be reflected in a unique building skin.
Byzantines could also finally get an Orthodox church after having to live with a Mosque and Catholic church for so long while the strongly Catholic Poles should get rid of the Orthodox one (they generally should have the Central European Architecture set anyway but that’s a different story).

But that could apply to all buildings.
Mongols get Yurts as skins for their Houses.
Viking Docks feature a half build Longboat while Korean ones have a Turtle Ship.
Incan houses look bigger/taller showing that they can house twice as many people.
Gujaras Mills show how they can house livestock.
Korean Keeps look unique to show that they have a higher range while Teutonic Keeps are thicker to make space for twice as many units.

Style of the changes

The above polls ask IF something should change, this one asks HOW.

This poll is about unit sprites.
Buildings already vary a lot between civilisations.

How big would you want the changes to be?
  • Go wild!
  • Hybrid
  • As close as possible to the original
  • No changes

0 voters

Go wild!

The unique sprites don’t try to look like the default ones.
The unit is obviously still the same unit type but visuals and the silhouette can change a lot. Even weapons can change a little.
Swords turn into Axes, Crossbows into Composite Bows and things like that.


The style tries to stay close to the default sprites but fixes some historical errors. Readability is being considered but not the main focus.
It tires to only do mayor changes for units that look very out of place.
Mayas don’t have crossbows and Aztecs don’t have plate amour.
Japanese Halberdier might use a Naginata instead.

As close as possible to the original

The silhouette and other features that are important for readability stay the same.
Things like skin colours or clothes can change.
Armour should be kept similar.
Weapons should stay mostly like the default.

Generally designed to keep readability.

No change

For all of those how also voted fo NO in the other polls.

Unique Elite Unique Unit skins

The Elite Upgrade Skin thread was closed because it was too old so I’m adding it to my polls.

Would you want unique for the Elite version of the Unique units
  • I would pay for it
  • Only if it was for free
  • No because of readability
  • No because of file size
  • No because of nostalgia
  • No because of other reasons

0 voters

I guess in some cases the none Elite version should get the new skin because the default one looks modern enough.
(I’d love if all Unique Castle Age gun powder units would be turned into none gunpowder units)


Depending on the price of course i would only pay for it when it comes with the Option to go back to the original Version in the graphic settings.

1 Like

Hell yeah, give my bois Byzantines some of their unique skins:
Skoutatoi swordsmen & spearmen
Excubitores (Cataprachts)
Cataprachts (Knight line)
Hippotoxotai (Cavalry archers)
Akritai (Skirmishers)


Of course.

Maybe even some smart setting would be nice:

  • Fall back to default in ranked matches
  • Default for enemy only
  • Only unique skins in single player

This could be nice for things like the Small Tree setting too.


I would like to see unique castles for every civ, old civs need some love too.


Apart from Castles, mostly I think Monasteries should all be religiously and architecturally appropriate. I’m mostly thinking of Chinese, Koreans, Mongols and Vietnamese all having a Japanese Monastery, but I guess this also applies at least to Huns and Cumans.

This was available as an event mod for the Mongol Mayhem event, but was unavailable once the event ended, and I have no idea why. Of all the event mods, it’s the one I most wanted to keep!


I think at least each architecture set should have their own generic units’ graphic, with little differences like helmets, shields, armor/clothes combinations, etc.
Siege could be avoided.


This is such a well-thought-out post. I appreciate the attention to detail and care that went into it. Really brought up some good points.


Hope you can take it back and discuss with the team how it could be operationalised into something the community could receive as a DLC or event mod(s).


I’m surprised how many people here would be willing to pay for regional unit skins.
In other discussions there were a lot of people that hated the idea of the visuals of their beloved units changing.

I also added a new poll at the end.
I wonder how much people would want the units to change.

And I added another Poll for Elite Unique Unit skins.
I always bothered me that the normal and Elite versions of Unique units look the same.


It’s kind of misleading. I’d much rather that it’s free, but if it was basically every unit with full regional skins, then yes, I would be willing to pay as much as a regular DLC.


Imo a dlc shouldn’t be targeted at a minority of players only. In this forum people might be interested in that stuff but the majority of the community simply won’t buy non gameplay related content. If it’s free sure why not.


I will also say that it depends on the price. Obviously a heavy cosmetic DLC might have the same price or even more than a 2-3 new civ DLC due to the amount of work, but if it’s just cosmetics I don’t feel as comfortable paying as much for it as I do for existing ##############
WRT generic unique units (like Malian Cavalier), a point to consider is that depending on how heavy is the change, you can run into the readability issue when no unit looks like the generic Cavalier any more. Too many cooks spoil the broth, and too many different units spoil the readability of the units. If the change is small, like idk… Malian Cavalier get a new sword with Farimba? Khmer get actual Tusk Swords on their Battle Elephants, so on? I think that’d be a good enough change, but also I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to be included.

The main gripe is mostly skin tones, especially for Villagers. There have been some edits made that make regional changes for generic units that still keep the same silhouette and ‘look’, so I don’t think it’s impossible to have a more lightweight change as well. Rest of the options presented are ‘oh that’s nice to have, too’ type of changes that I’m not prioritising.

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Hard to judge the people “out there”.
Nowadays a lot of games just live of selling cosmetics. But this is different.
This DLC would be a DLC you would download and not a skin that you can show of when playing against others.

Does the majority even buy DLCs? I mean how many percent of people that bought the base game bought the DLCs?

The economics cosmetic DLCs are easier to calculate. You can probably pay artist for the number of sprites they make so you can relatively easily estimate the costs. There is no balance required, there won’t be future patches needed to rebalance the DLC.
If you make a classical DLC you don’t know how long it will take to implement new features and then you don’t know how much balance is needed. Plus every DLC adds to future balancing issues that have to be resolved.

Cost is also a hard question.
The base game is already very cheap compared to new games and the DLCs aren’t expensive either.
A single skin in other games often costs more.

Would people want to pay half the price for a normal DLC to get regional skins for one or two architecture sets?
Like imagine a Muslim set that includes skins for all generic units and is shared between the Middle Eastern and Central Asian set.
Would people pay for that half the price of a normal DLC?
Would that even be financially worth it to produce?
If you double the price to be the same as a full DLC then would the number of buyers be more or less then half as big?

Many questions that have to be answered and calculated.

Regional skins could also be part of normal DLCs in the future, like imagine if the Indian DLC would have had regional skins for all the generic units.
But would they have to increase the price of DLCs then?

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We already have different skins for Kings and Trade Carts (and a unique monk skin for the American civs :wink:).

I would like to see regional skins for Villagers and land military units next.

I think that 5 regions (corresponding to the 5 Trade Cart skins) would be sufficient. UUs and regional units (Eagle Warrior, Battle Elephant, Elephant Archer, Armored Elephant and Steppe Lancer) don’t need to be changed.


as ever, i’m okay with DLC skins, and ofcourse, the usual stipulation applies (client side only).


I guess that would be true for most units.
Maybe more regions but some units are shared between regions.
South East Asia could share some units with each South Asia and East Asia that are not shared between South Asia and East Asia.
While South Asia shares some with the Middle East.

African and Native American sets are there own thing of course. Maybe the game will eventually add more Native American architecture sets in the future.

Yeah I mean they are already regional by definition.
The Camel Rider is a little wide spread though.

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YES regional unit skins and civ unique castles would be better than every new expansion (and i love new expansions alot haha). I would pay for it without thinking. I want this for ages.

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I would say the opposite is the problem. That Steppe Lancers, Elephant Archers etc etc are too restricted. Not sure why go through so much effort to design, draw and rig new models just to only use them on 3 civs.

Might seem like an off-topic point, but it revolves back to how much effort should be put in based on how much use.

What about unique units? Going through all that effort just for one civ?