There are AI issues that cropped up after the campaigns were designed and playtested. We are working on a fix. I expect the gameplay to subsequently improve, but I will certainly be open to weighing recommendations from the community. The two of us who designed these remastered campaigns also are part of the team behind the AoE II HD DLCs and we always strive to listen to player feedback. I would ask that when the AI fix is patched, you play the scenarios again and let me know if you feel the same way.
Thanks for your help and your thoughts.
If you’re curious on why I made the changes I did, my intention was to reflect the hurried and frantic historical battle by giving the players strong starting positions rather than having to ahistorically build up slowly. The map more closely represents the actual site of the battle, with the shallow Orontes River playing a crucial role with chariots fighting and moving across the river. That is not to say the new map is 100% historically accurate, however, since I wanted to keep the scenario fun and fast-paced. For example, I shifted the position of the city of Kadesh and merged it with the location of the Hittite camp to make the gameplay a little more cohesive (controlling two camps, as Muwatalli did, with his reserve in the city, would be too challenging for novice players without being more fun).
I will give more detailed feedback on the new campaigns once the AI problems are fixed, but in the meanwhile I can tell you what makes (in my opinion) a good AoE1 scenario.
The most memorable missions from the original were the ones where you faced an opponent that initially seemed overwhelming and had to use clever and unconventional strategies to turn the tide and defeat the enemy.
One such mission was Tigris Valley from the Babylon campaign. In the original game, the limited resources on your starting island and starting in the stone age put you into a serious disadvantage and when I played it for the first time on easiest, I remember I ended up fighting triremes while I was still in tool age and only had scout ships. Was that a bit too harsh for a new player? Perhaps, but it forced me to think about strategy. I could not simply do what I would do on any random map, but I had to build towers along the coast to secure my base before I could attack the enemy. These hard missions were what kept me interested in the game, what kept me trying to get better.
Now, in the definitive edition you start in the bronze age and you have more resources in your base. Otherwise the map and objectives are basically the same, but I feel like these simple changes have destroyed everything that made this mission special to me. Playing on hardest, I was able to upgrade war galleys before the enemy and I was able to go on the offensive right away. Of course, I am much better at the game than I was back then, but the enemy never felt challenging at all. There was no sense of accomplishment in beating the mission and I did not have to think outside the box at any point. I was able to just do what I would do on any random water map and at that point I feel like the mission could just as well have been a random water map.
The original battle of Kadesh was also similar to some extent. You started with a weak army and with a technological disadvantage, and you had to spend some time on the defensive before you could even think about defeating the enemy. The new mission certainly matches better what the battle of Kadesh was historically and epic clashes between large armies are also part of AoE. Maybe giving the enemy an even larger starting army could be the better solution, perhaps forcing the player to hide behind his walls for some time like in the original mission.