Request for better unit controls: please separate unit stances (aggression settings) from formations & special modes

I am writing this for my brother who is a longtime Age of Empires fan but who is partially paralyzed and finds it hard to play Age of Empires 3 because of the lackluster unit controls. Back in the day when Age of Empires 3 came out we were both very excited. However once it released I was able to play it (mildly well) but he was not because of the poor unit controls. For some very strange reason the developers of Age 3 combined unit stances/aggression settings and formations into the same function and then only allowed you to choose one.

We never understood this decision as it was a clear regression from Age of Empires 2 which gave the player less options and less/worse control of their units. It also had the unfortunate effect of causing units to need more micro in Age 3. This made it almost impossible for my brother to play the game at a decent level so we never got into it like Age 2.

When the Definitive Edition was announced we got excited again and were hopeful the unit controls would be improved. However, after buying and playing it last week it’s clear they haven’t improved the unit controls at all. This is really disappointing and we hope to see it addressed. So here are our suggestions to make the game more playable for a paralyzed person (and everyone else to be honest).


Currently Volley Mode (ranged attack mode), Stagger Mode (spread formation to reduce cannon damage), Melee Mode (melee attack mode), Defend Mode (stance/aggression setting to engage enemies in local area then return to spot), Stand Ground (stance/aggression setting to not move at all to engage enemies), Cover Mode (special movement mode for melee infantry to reduce damage from enemy ranged attacks), Trample Mode (special movement mode for melee cavalry to increase damage from its attacks), and Stealth Mode (special movement mode to make unit invisible) are the functions that exist for units and they are all mutually exclusive.

Even though these are completely different things the game has them combined into a SINGLE function and only lets you select ONE at a time. Which makes no sense. And makes controlling units a hassle.

As you can see many people were complaining about this stuff in 2010. No protect/guard mode? - Age of Empires III Heaven Forum


Separate all these things into multiple categories and make it so they are not mutually exclusive settings.

Attack Mode Setting (Choose 1): Ranged (aka what the game calls Volley) mode. Melee mode. No Attack mode (unit does not attack at all).

Aggression Stance Setting (Choose 1): Aggressive (aggressively attacks & pursues until dead all enemies it sees/in area). Defensive (aka Defend Mode - attacks enemies in local area then returns to original spot). Stand Ground (doesn’t move from its spot to engage enemies).

Staggered Stance Setting (Activated or Not Activated): Staggered (spreads units out to reduce cannon fire damage).

Formation Stance Setting: Auto (what the game currently uses - no player control). Manual - (select 1, many formations could be added with varying effects).

Target Priority Setting (Choose 1): Prioritize Units (unit will target enemy units first). Prioritize Buildings (unit will target enemy buildings first).

Special Mode Settings (Activated or Not Activated): Volley Mode (tells your ranged units to fire in unison rather than firing at will, slower but higher damage). Cover Mode, Trample Mode, Stealth Mode. Counter Battery Mode (cannon units will focus on attacking enemy cannons first).

Guard Command (tells unit to guard another unit or building).

Follow Command (tells unit to follow another unit).

Retreat Command (tells unit to fall back to safe location).

Charge Command (tells ranged infantry units to close with & charge enemy into melee fight).

Skirmish Command (tells ranged infantry to keep distance from enemy).

Retreat, charge and skirmish command wouls break game balance. Sorry.

The unit controls in the game are already pretty complex tbh and requires a lot of unit control to make the formations work in combat.

Changing unit agression doesn’t really do much when the game incentives you to take or break engagements with snares, variable speed and so on.

Also this will break a few of the design of units that have variable stats based on the current formation system, like the nizam, desert outlaws and i suspect more to come, which will just amke things much more needlessly complicated


That’s nonsense firstly. And second, if adding basic functionality to your game “breaks balance” then there’s something seriously wrong with the game design lol.

What you are asking isn’t basic functionality. Especially the skirmish command.