- Keep Them
- Change Them
Now that the variant civilizations names are all but confirmed (Age of Noob confirmed in his latest video, and the marketing material has not been taken down as if it was an incorrect leak or mistranslation) I think it’s safe to put up this poll. To start, there is nothing wrong with the concept of variant civs. I get it: in AoE4, making a totally new language and architecture set takes monumental effort. And you can’t very well do something like make the Koreans a Chinese variant, or make the Italians an HRE variant, because people would riot at the misrepresentation. Two fully unique civs a year seems about the limit of what we can get for that. So how to get around this limitation to implement new gameplay ideas and mechanics? You find something very similar historically to an existing civ that can reuse the same sound design and unit assets and give it a different playstyle. Works for me!
However, to put it mildly, the response to the variant names has not been positive. Jeanne d’Arc is a person not a civ, Sultan’s Army is just way too generic. Empire of Jade is either fictional or very obscure. Many people don’t care about names and only care about gameplay. That’s fine, you do you, but to others, playing a civ advancing from Dark Age to Imperial Age named after a girl who lived only 19 years is about as immersion breaking as playing Babylonians or Modern USA in AoE4.
But the good news is, it’s easy to fix! Changing the name of the civ requires zero development time, zero new art or sound design, and zero balancing. Look, I just did it right
yesterday now. And it’s not even on a lot of marketing material yet so it’s not like they have to fix 10 different websites. So, what do you think, should they? I’ll even provide suggestions:
- Jeanne d’Arc → Orléans (call the hero unit Maid of Orléans)
We have Burgundians in AoE2, so let’s just make this civ their counterpart! Since this civ will obviously have a hero unit as shown in the first screenshots, just call the hero ‘Maid of Orléans’. The inspiration will still be obvious and it will make more sense in game.
- Sultan’s Army → Ayyubid Dynasty (EDIT: Or Mamluk Sultanate)
Could pick a lot of different ones, but Ayyubids (EDIT: or Mamluk Sultanate, which is already technically a ‘part’ of Abbasid) make the most sense as an Abbasid ‘variant’.
- Empire of Jade → Celestial Empire
When searching for the civ name yields literally zero information, you know the name is too obscure. Celestial Empire is actually a name that was used for Chinese kingdoms, especially during civil wars where rival (sometimes foreign) dynasties would compete for the ‘Mandate of Heaven’ to rule China, so it makes perfect sense as a ‘China but not Chinese’ civ.
- Order of the Dragon → Order of the Dragon
Ok, this one there’s no really good alternative. Mainly because changing it to something like Teutonic Order or another more well-known religious military order would require new flags and unit skins. But it’s the least egregious of the variants because, although kind of niche, it was still a multi-generational military order, like the Teutonic order or the Knights Templar.
Feel free to offer other suggestions!