The AEO1R graphical style is not up to an appropriate quality

I’m a huge AOE fan, having played the games since the original release of AOE. And I’ve been waiting for a re-release of AOE 1 in some form for over a decade.

So, with hope that there will be improvements before the game releases, I want to share that I think the new graphics in the AOE1 remaster don’t look good at all: They look washed out, blurry / pastey (bloomy), and with drab colour and lighting. The overall visual impression of the remaster not convey the attractiveness of the original visuals, and doesn’t carry any particular aesthetic - unless dreary is meant to be an aesthetic.

The dismal feel of the remaster graphics in the promo videos isn’t going to do a lot to encourage people to get the game, and it doesn’t create an impression of something that I’d want to load up to immerse myself often, and for hours at a time.

Also, the remaster version of the wonder statue at 1:38 in this video isn’t conceptually right.

The statue is to be symbolic to the citizens of the empire, and represent that empire - and citizens are not going to revere a statue that is featuring a threatening pose towards them whenever they look at it. It makes no sense that people would build a statue that looks like it’s in the process of beating them or threatening them - unless the statue is supposed to be a demoralizer for the people… in which case, the team that builds one should lose after a certain period of time of having that statue stay up. I think that statue’s design could be an indicator that the team working on AOE1R doesn’t quite get it.

My issues with the presentation of the AOE1R remaster aside, it being a Windows Store exclusive still means that I won’t be buying it. However, if it comes to Steam, or maybe GoG, I’d get it.

I’m not buying a game from a Microsoft platform because

a) I have Steam and GoG accounts, and I’m not spreading my games across endless platforms. There are enough games that if I can’t buy one from where my game collection is, then I have many other things to purchase and to play.

b) Microsoft has proven itself for decades to have no sense of the gaming industry by all of the following:

  • Closing Ensemble Studios - one of the most talented game studios in the history of gaming.
  • Creating all kinds of crap, barriers, purchasing restrictions, bloat with Games For Windows Live
  • Shuttering GFWL without leaving any recourse for people to play games through it
  • Constantly talking about making PC gaming a priority but never doing anything to live up to those words

Also, Microsoft’s practices and treatment of Windows license owners regarding Windows 10 has been utterly contemptuous, making it very clear that Microsoft does not care about people, gaming, or its customers, and only cares about getting people’s money into its own pockets. I believe that a person would be entirely foolish to be aware of Microsoft’s history and still buy something from a platform of theirs. There is no expectation of posterity with Microsoft services, IMO, considering that there hasn’t been posterity of MS services in the past, and that each new Windows 10 update brings many new serious issues and breaks compatibility with programs that worked with the previous Win 10 update. Microsoft simply is neither reliable or trust-worthy.

Generally the community is loving the new graphical style AND it seems for the first time M$ is actually doing exactly what the community wants. To me it seems you are seriously nitpicking, give this new era of Age of Empires a chance.


I think the AoE: DE fire effects need to be improved, and the water is way too light blue. There is some stutter in some of the animations but without more gameplay footage it’s tough to see whether it will look amazing or not quite yet.

The grass isn’t quite as green and the water isn’t quite as blue-- I guess that’s a big deal because we stare at it all the time…
Aside from that, it does seem like nitpicking. There’s a lot more details than the ones you pointed out that could be criticized of the original game if you take off your nostalgia glasses.

Of course M$ wants money, but they’ve been going about this particular product fantastically. XBL multiplayer doesn’t show signs of going anywhere, and the Windows Store will be around for at least a decade, which is a good timespan for a game to be available.

(Unlike Destiny, a “10-year” game that got sequelled 3 years into its life)

IMO it almost seems too generous that they announced II and III DE as well as IV before trying to sell as many of AOE DE as possible. Some people will undoubtedly skip the first in favor of II or III.

I lost my favorite game to the GFWL shut down, so I understand the pain.

However, my hope now is that as they have brought their PC gaming branch under the Xbox umbrella that this streamlined platform tends to both console and PC gamers’ needs. A company as large as MS should be able to use their own platform exclusively as other large developers do.

I think when you look at the history of PC gaming from around 2010 to 2014 you have to understand the massive impact of mobile gaming, tablets and smartphones, micro transactions and the free-to-play model. The industry changed drastically and traditional software companies had to react quickly to stay relevant and profitable. But now the dust has settled and it is apparent that the market for traditional pc gaming is alive and well and bolstered by the advent of streaming and ever-rising popularity of esports.

Now, their pc gaming wing is under the Xbox brand, which isn’t going anywhere. Win8 was more like an experiment and they’ve made massive investments into win10 and now want to assure consumers it is the OS for the foreseeable future.

Also, having multiple platforms is good for the consumer. Lower prices and more motivation for companies to outperform each other and create a better experience. The two clicks it requires to open the xbox store and launch a game is not the end of the world IMHO, where is your passion?

Every business has to try different things. Some work. Most don’t. MS is a behemoth, so when it stumbles, it falls hard. But it’s not really accurate to say that MS has no sense of the gaming industry. There have been different people in charge of each different decision. There isn’t one person or even one core group of people who have been responsible for the bad things you list.

Anyway, we can’t change how large MS is or how its executives organize its decisionmakers. But we can shout about civilizations, hotkeys, and alliances. Over the years, we have made lots of inroads on this forum in those areas that actually relate to the video games. That’s more fun, too.

I don’t agree with the hate in this thread (or constructive criticism for visuals, call it what you will). I think DE looks great, and the fact that we’re getting DE’s for 2 and 3, as well as AoE4 (!!!) has me ready to throw my wallet at Microsoft instantly.

It’s a new era of AoE. Let’s hope they do this right - no microtransactions, no intrusive DRM, etc etc. Microsoft, I will pay you so much if you do this right.

(tbh I’ll buy them regardless but hey, incentive always helps)

We have different tastes for sure if you really don’t like the new graphics. If it’s so, then you’ll have to hope that they’ll add modding support.

It’s a balancing act.

I think there’s definitely worth talking about the muted color and artistic style and how it might not be appealing to some - and maybe adding a “colorful” option people can choose to turn on similar to the original AOE might be something they should look at. It seems they will have forwards compatibility and maybe I read wrong but a ‘classical’ mode too? It shouldn’t be too hard to have a ‘classical mode graphics’ check box then should it?

A complete overhaul of graphics to make them high end doesn’t seem to make much sense. I would imagine it would be tough on the computers of many people - how are you going to render hundreds of units in an 4v4? What if they plan on moving beyond 200pop per player? What if they are planning to allow more players in a single game?

Really the graphics are nothing groundbreaking. Artistic style graphics with muted colors seems to be the fad right now for all gaming companies and games of all types.

The muted colors are a bit depressing–Age of Empires (I through III, but especially I and Age of Mythology) had nice saturated colors that made characters easier to see, and that helps both gameplay and visuals.

Also, I note that the campaign screen visuals (shown in the Gamescom trailer around the 1:30 mark) are noticeably less atmospheric than those in Age of Empires I–the maps are smaller and have no figures on them (just colored map bits). No cool swords/decorations on the side of the scenario screens either.

The greek wonder is not good, the wonder seems more roman soldier (helmet, sword, shoulders coat, tunic, greaves) than a greek. The actitude is not good for a colossal statue. And his fitness seems plenty of century XXI mass gym drugs like hollywood film.

On the other hand, the color of the sea and rivers does not convince me, too clear.

But look what happened after Ensemble closed down. Many of the top engineers of the original AoE games moved to FE to help develop the Definitive edition. If Microsoft didn’t take a risk by allowing developers such as Cysion to help develop the game, the franchise would grow stale over time. The original forgotten empires team was completely composed of fans of the series (unless I’m mistaken) and cared enough about the series to reboot it. Microsoft made the right choice in my opinion as they allowed the fans, who want nothing but the best for the series, to revitalize the franchise.

Well, to paint with a broad brush here, Microsoft had tons of excellent PC games back in the day. Then it was decided that that established market should be neglected and cannibalized to promote the Xbox. Almost 15 years later, someone realized that no one’s interested in their products or their shop anymore and suddenly remembered that they used to have a good reputation and maybe they could recapture the audience. Truth be told steam is currently failing terribly on the technical side, so there’s no better opportunity to try to compete. Smart buiness move. Let’s hope they are sincere.

I would like an option to boost the colours that appear on units and buildings. It probably wouldn’t be hard to mod given they usually have a transparent bit that the colour is applied to.

If you look at the sun light in the old, it is more sunny compared to the seemingly overcast lighting in DE.

That said, as long as units are easily identified by both colour and what type of unit it is, I’m ok with it.

Age of Empires is a colourful and vibrant game, with a healthy balance colour. But the remaster is imbalanced and monotonous in its colour spectrum, being primarily grey, and looks like it has a filter put over everything. Personally, I find that it looks nasty. I think that the remaster should retain the same colour vibrancy as the original.

The stylized graphics in AoE1R are not appearing professional, in my opinion, but appear more like budget mobile game graphics - and they certainly are not faithful to the original Age of Empires visual design.

I think that if FE want to make this particular sylized colour theme in AoE1R, that it should be a mod - and that the base game should have a more balanced, universally appreciable, and faithful colour style.

I assure you, the promo visual style will wear on people, and will upset many when the game releases - just like putting a dour colour filter on everything in Battlefield 3 did. People don’t like to immerse themselves in depressing and greyed-out environments for long-term entertainment.

Also, I strongly feel that such a personal preference shouldn’t be imposed as a liberty of the developers when remastering a classic game that so many people love and are going to buy to re-experience. Every time that a developer has done that, it has backfired on them. Those AoE1R colour theme will not give the same experience as the original, and will not give an equally positive experience. It is a stylistic downgrade.

As a separate criticism of the remaster’s graphics, the water in the remaster is reflecting far too much light, making it much too white, and more like soap detergent and not water. I think the amount of sun reflecting on it should be toned down, and also that it should perhaps be made a darker shade of water.

The overall visual style of AoE1R has this soft pastel and grimy visual stylization that isn’t suited for a celebratory re-presentation of an established game that people are looking forward to. I think it’s a disservice to the fans, and not a smart marketing move for Microsoft.

@mythdracon said:
The muted colors are a bit depressing–Age of Empires (I through III, but especially I and Age of Mythology) had nice saturated colors that made characters easier to see, and that helps both gameplay and visuals.

Also, I note that the campaign screen visuals (shown in the Gamescom trailer around the 1:30 mark) are noticeably less atmospheric than those in Age of Empires I–the maps are smaller and have no figures on them (just colored map bits). No cool swords/decorations on the side of the scenario screens either.

That is a good idea - to have a setting for classic-style colour, versus the promo footage stylized variant.

It might also be worth noting that European audiences tend to favour desaturated and muted colours, whereas North American audiences favour higher colour saturation and colour vibrancy.

One other thing I would change about the AoE1R visual design is the cliffs and the buildings being the same colour / shade of grey. The AoE1R promo media already displays a very limited colour palette, and the situation doesn’t need to be unnecessarily exacerbated by having the two distinct map details (natural structures and built structures) being identical in colour and tone.

In the AoE1R media, the buildings, roads, cliffs, walls, and ship sails are all the same colour and tone. That’s not something you see in AAA game designs, and that’s very intentionally so.

And couple that lack of visual variety and stimulation with lighting that makes it feel as though the environment is in a permanent state of overcast skies, and with the gaudy water and its light-reflection, and there’s a lot about the AoR1R that just doesn’t demonstrate a professional or experienced visual design philosophy.

And for a game I’ve longed to have a re-release of for so many years, I find it very disappointing.

I guess I don’t have an eye for these things. The game looks good to me.

@“Andy P” said:
I guess I don’t have an eye for these things. The game looks good to me.

Exactly! I have no idea what grayness or depressingness they are talking about. To me the original version looks depressing with such a small amount of colors (and it’s understandable for a 1990s game).

Makes AoEO
People=Looks cartoony, too bright, total crap! Make aoe realistic
Makes AoEDE
People=Looks too real, too gray, total crap! Make AoE cartoony