One thing people keep bringing up is that AOE2 is already very “saturated”. Soon we’ll reach a stage with 40 civs and almost one campaign for each civ.
But new AOE2 contents still seem to sell. So instead of further adding to the base game (which will either result in repetitive gameplay or balancing problems), what about making more sub-games (functioning more like official conversion mods) like ROR?
Many historical total war games have those “sub-games” with a slightly different setting (eg Barbarian Invasion, Fall/Rise of the Samurai, Charlemagne) but no major overhauls to the gameplay. I do think that could work in AOE too. You don’t need to wait for the next new game to experience a different setting.
People working on AOE2 also have a lot more experience in designing really good campaign scenarios. I was hoping the other AOEs continuously get campaign additions but there seem to be little incentive to do so. So I guess a sub-game like ROR with ~10 civs and 3-4 campaigns might be a decent addition. At least I’m willing to buy something like that.
Multiplayer-wise it does not interfere with the core AOE2, so balancing is not a major demand. One potential downside is that the gameplay would feel like a reskin of AOE2. However, if a lot of players bought such a DLC just to try out the campaigns, it’s still a good product.
Here are some other settings that could be ported into AOE2 as sub-games:
- Early medieval: this period is poorly represented in AOE2. Almost no unit despite some unique ones look like an early medieval one. You directly jump into high medieval. So just like how Rise of the Samurai is to Shogun 2, there could also be a cosmetically more “archaic” version of AOE2. Goths, Franks and Vikings could keep the same unique units. Huns, Persians and Byzantines could get better representation. For the shared roster, knights and crossbows become ultimate units. Potential campaigns include Belisarius, Charlemagne, etc.
- Renaissance to thirty years war: this is another important time period sadly omitted by all AOE games (either being a distant late game or a lackluster early game). However, this period saw a mixture of cold steel and gunpowder weaponry, traditional and “modern” types of warfare. It’s unit composition still does not deviate much from AOE2’s stricter division of melee/ranged units.
- AOE3’s core setting (1700-1850): there are a lot of existing models to use. This setting also has potentials for great campaigns like Napoleon, Northern Wars, Crimean War, Unification of Italy, etc. The decline of “melee units” does not fit very well with AOE2’s gameplay though, but that could be solved by ratha-like units.
- Even more radical: WW1? WW2? Galactic battlegrounds?