The Age of Empires III Cutting Room Floor

Every game has content that goes unused in its files. They usually take some digging, but there’s always the potential to learn something interesting from them, such as shift in priorities, placeholder assets, overly ambitious original scope, or even a change in sensibilities.

I decided to make this thread for users to compile any piece of unused content they may have found in the game files, or even promotional material. This goes for both DE and Legacy.

I’d like to start with some UI elements:

Crude Sepoy and Ghurka icons (Legacy)
They look like they were made with MS Paint.

Veteran Navy (Legacy)
Apparently ships were originally meant to be upgraded the same way as land units.

Italian Cities (Legacy)

Placeholder icons mentioning Italian-related locations

Stone Walls (Legacy)
Perhaps this was meant as an upgrade for walls instead of Bastion?

Text-only placeholder icons (Legacy)
What could these be about? Who knows?
NOTE: Trace Italienne was repurposed for one of the Historical Maps introduced with KotM.

Big Buttons (Legacy)

Some of these were repurposed for shipments or abilities.

Elite Siege
Mantlets and Rams can only be upgraded to Champion and beyond.

Factory Blueprints (Legacy)
Perhaps this would’ve allowed Factories to be rebuilt?

Industrialize (Legacy)
An enigma of an icon, to be sure.

Indentured Labor (Legacy)

Wood Great Coffers and Wood Crate (Legacy)
Shipments with non-standardized wood icons

Food and Coin trade route icons (Legacy)
Must have been early versions of resource toggle for Trade Routes

Explorer Combat (Legacy)
Looks like this would’ve been a TEAM card.

Surgeon (Legacy)
Pretty self-explanatory shipment. Odd icon choice.

I think these are enough images for a single post. There’s an entire goldmine in the game files, so try taking a look yourself. I think a completely comprehensive list is impossible to achieve.

Also, please let me know if any of these assets were actually used in the final product.


Wow, great post Some really very intriguing stuff there!

Those big buttons, particularly the native cannon, the european houses on fire and the climbing warriors actually rather interesting.

Also, that one for Veteran Navy does make me wonder why they didn’t go the classic land unit upgrade route.

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Thanks for sharing this, some neat discoveries.

It seems that Explorers were intended to have MANY more specialization options through shipments.

Treasure Hunter



There’s others as well, but they’re text-only icons and so many that uploading them all would be a hassle. I’ll just list them instead:

  • Trapper
  • Sharpshooter
  • Second Explorer Dog
  • Roughrider
  • Prospector
  • Navigator
  • Naturalist
  • Native Diplomat
  • Miner
  • Marksman
  • Industrialist
  • Hunter
  • Grower
  • General
  • Explorer Dog
  • Engineer
  • Carpenter
  • Banker
  • Aristocrat
  • Architect
  • Archeologist
  • Admiral

More unused shipment icons:

German Heavy Infantry
Germany was originally planned to have access to Musketeers. Imagine a Musk+Dopps combo.

Portuguese Explorer
Perhaps this shipment was meant to enable the Spyglass ability?

French Explorer
Not sure if I’ve seen this icon used somewhere else, but I couldn’t find what it’s for.

Establish Lumberyard
A Wood gathering upgrade shipment maybe?

Never seen this icon before

Coureur Training
I’d assume this upgrades Coureurs.

Coin Coffers

Champion Natives

Cargo Ship (from +1 to +5)
No idea what these shipments could be about.

These confuse me. Would they work like God Powers?


Forced March

Field Promotion

Another one of those odd Age-up icons. I assume there’s no Fortress-ize.

Guard Navy
If there’s Veteran, there must be Guard.

Elite Infantry
Your desktop icon. Who knows what purpose this would’ve had.

Elite Cavalry
Repurposed for Improved Mercenaries.

Consulate options seem to have been meant for use as Big Buttons. Some curious choices here. Some seem to be identical to some native american Big Buttons, so I didn’t include them.


Looks familiar :thinking:


Seems to have been reused from AoM.

Something like this would have been useful to aknowledge slavery in the game.

‘Whip the slaves!’


these kinda look like what the euronative stuff got made into so yeah bit like god powers

I really have no idea what was their purpose, or why these specific flag designs were selected. Some choices are outright inexplicable. All I can tell is that these were made before they had settled on a specific UI style, and scrapped Swedes and Italians.

British (wavy Union Jack)

Dutch (with the Royal Coat of Arms)

French (Tricolor)

German (Imperial flag with an altered Coat of Arms)



Portuguese (20th Century version)


Spanish (19th Century version)


I have no idea with these anymore. Theres even flags for China, Japan, Prussia, and Turkey (not Ottomans). These refer to the countries themselves instead of the peoples (except for the British one).


There was also a generic button for Shipments


East India Trading Company Flag
This flag differs from the one shown in the Indian campaign because this only has a red cross in the upper left corner. The one in the campaign looks like this:

Native American Flag
This flag is only visible in the UI. To do it you must make a custom scenario and set your civ as Native Americans. However, your ships and buildings will display the Circle’s flag.
This flag’s design has always intrigued me. What is it supposed to represent? The only thing that comes to mind to me is a dreamcatcher.

Remember Double Faced Armor? The Icon was originally meant for a shipment called Mongolian Armor. There were other similar-looking icons for other shipments that ended up using european-style icons.

Ming HP

Native Warrior HP

Territorial Army Combat

Improved Warships


They are cards related to the ES Italian civ before it was removed from the original game back in 2004… they would be similar to the ones the FE Italian civ has in 3 DE…

Yes, like in AoM…

Cards and improvements from the original game…


Before, the fortresses age did not exist, and the industrial age was the 3rd age (then there were 4 ages originally: Discovery Age, Colonial Age, Industrial Age and Imperial Age, you could already fight from the first age with crossbowmen, pikemen and arquebusiers, but then ES repented because the game was too fast and moved everything an age later, that why exist the fortresses age)…

Yeah, you could receive resource crates from the TPs for your settlers to recollect…

Team card to improve the combat of the explorers…

It is the previous card from the surgeon of the homecity…

Units or politicians of the game…

Very strong…

Cargo ship was probably to improve the ships ability to carry units, similar to how it is in AoE 2…

Maybe?..these can be from 2003-2004…

It must be the button to advance age…

That beautiful icon xd…it must be that it improved the infantry units from normal to elite…

That must be from 2006, while they messed with the Asian civs… although the elections they put in were weird…

Wars of Liberty likes this xd…

These are the original flag icons back in 2004-2005…before the game came out they changed them for more appropriate versions of the time…

Maybe they were testing a selector like the AoM one before entering the game, since the buttons above are those of the homecity…

Yes, since in the Indian campaign you play as the EIC before joining the sepoy rebels…

Maybe it was the Sioux flag from Chayton’s campaign from when Chayton faces the Sioux in the early levels…

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A medicine wheel, perhaps.

How come you didn’t find all the unused German cards ?


Got to say, the tasks dont sound too hard.
It will be impossible to pass through the Andes mountains without establishing an alliance with the natives there. Forge an alliance, and train a suitable number of warriors to serve as our guides and escorts.


Grand Conquest? That’s sounds it a potentially Rise of Nations/Total War style campaign map-based mode. That would have been awesome!


You know what would improve these screenshots? Capture them in a 4:3 resolution or the original 1024x768 to keep UI elements from distortion. :stuck_out_tongue:

@RafaSheep And for you, you seem to be enlarging and screencapping the icons by hand? Why don’t use a proper tool (like XnView) to batch-resize them using Nearest Neighbor? That saves the labor and keeps them from becoming a smear.

You can check wikia for the cut content article.

Yeah stupid phone uploads

Besides , that why ? The UI auto sets .
4:3 is horrible

Here some more:

Outposts originally should have 3 different levels of upgrades.

Notice the villagers here:


These look to be early design TAD age-ups and Wonder powers for Age II.

    <string _locid="65672">2 Shaolin Disciples, +10% to Shaolin Master attack / hp, disciple build limit increases.</string>
    <string _locid="65674">1 Mongolian Banner Army. Produces Banner Armies or Food.</string>
    <string _locid="65676">300 Trade, Produces Trade or Coin.</string>
    <string _locid="65678">1 Standard Banner Army, Produces Flying Crows or Wood.</string>
    <string _locid="65680">2 Villagers. Transcendence: all units heal.</string>
    <string _locid="65682">1 Sepoy and 1 Mansabdar. Castle that trains Mansabdars.</string>
    <string _locid="65684">1 Flail Elephant, boost to elephant attack and hp, build Flail Elephants at Caravanserai.</string>
    <string _locid="65686">400 Wood, nearby gathering enhanced.</string>
    <string _locid="65688">600 XP, Cease Fire: stops fighting for a short time.</string>
    <string _locid="65690">2 Sowars, Inspiration: temporary +40% attack / hp to all units.</string>
    <string _locid="65694">500 Food, Acts as a large shrine and increases shrine income.</string>
    <string _locid="65696">2 Samurai, Switch between small attack or hp bonuses for military units.</string>
    <string _locid="65700">400 Coin, Berry and Rice Paddy gather rate increased.</string>
    <string _locid="65698">1 Shinobi, Informers: reveals enemies for a short time.</string>
    <string _locid="65702">1 Daimyo, +10% to Daimyo / Shogun attack and hp.</string>

Lots of random cut content, especially from the legacy version, can be found in the strings like Explorer’s Camps, Grand Conquest Mode, abilities, etc.

<string _locid="29780" symbol="cStringGCHint1">Queen Elizabeth is sending you across the sea to claim the New World for the British. But first you must name the Explorer who will lead the mission.</string>
<string _locid="30245" symbol="cStringGCInvalidMove">You have no territories adjacent to that territory.</string>
<string _locid="30254" symbol="cStringGCTerritoryClaimed">has claimed </string>
<string _locid="26185" symbol="cStringAbilityNameWildfire">Wildfire</string>
<string _locid="26186" symbol="cStringAbilityRolloverWildfire">Lights a fire that burns across the prairie, damaging units and soldiers.</string>
<string _locid="25985" symbol="cStringPlacementFailedCamp">Explorer's Camps must be built near Secret Ruins.</string>
<string _locid="26547" symbol="cStringVPMasterTownCenterInfo">Explorer Camps, Native Outpost, Trading Posts</string>
<string _locid="26274">You have chosen Genoa as your patron city. In return, you have access to all Ranged Infantry and their techs. </string>
<string _locid="25870" symbol="cStringAbilityNameHp">Field Promotion</string>
 <string _locid="25871" symbol="cStringAbilityRolloverHp">Increases the hitpoints of allied soldiers in the area for 30 seconds.</string>
<string _locid="26162" symbol="cStringAbilityNameSpeed">Forced March</string>
<string _locid="26163" symbol="cStringAbilityRolloverSpeed">Increases the speed of allied soldiers in the area for 60 seconds.</string>
<string _locid="25601" symbol="cStringCommandRake">Configure ship to fire a rapid, single shot.</string>
<string _locid="25602" symbol="cStringCommandBroadside">Configure ship to fire a slow, multiple shot.</string>
<string _locid="25603" symbol="cStringCommandBombard">Configure ship to fire a long-range shot at targets on land.</string>

Plantations needed to be built near native resources like tobacco at some point.

<string _locid="26044" symbol="cStringPlacementFailedPlantation1">Estates must be built near native resources, such as Tobacco.</string>
<string _locid="26045" symbol="cStringPlacementFailedPlantation2">Only one Estate can be built near a native resource.</string>
<string _locid="26046" symbol="cStringPlacementSuccessPlantation">Build your Estate near this native resource.</string>

There was a Home City building called the Estate, which still have entries in the home city files.

<string _locid="24968" symbol="cStringHCEstate">Palace</string>
 <string _locid="25537" symbol="cStringHCEstateRollover">Send colonists to the New World</string>
<string _locid="28993" symbol="cStringHCBritishEstate">Tower of London</string>
<string _locid="28994" symbol="cStringHCBritishEstateRollover">Explorer upgrades</string>
<string _locid="26007">Arrival Flag</string>
<string _locid="26008">Home City colonists arrive here. You can move this flag anywhere around the edge of a map or set a waypoint from it.</string>
<string _locid="26009">Home City colonists arrive here</string>

The United States originally used unique age-up rewards for each State before going to the 2-1-2 system. These can be seen for Age 2-4 in the reveal trailer.

Prior to release the United States had Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, and North Carolina as age-up options, some assets remain for them though their strings and techtree entries don’t reveal much.

Mexicans similarly have some differences from their trailer to launch. They may have been using one age-up reward for all 5 instead of the 2-1-2. Haciendas couldn’t produce Settlers by default and had cards that could enable it. Revolutions had different immediate bonuses, such as Baja California transforming all your military buildings into Saloons.

Mexico had several Lancers of cards that no longer exist but had icons made. Lancers of Jalisco and Lancers of Zacatecas only have icons remaining. Lancers of Texas can be seen in the trailer and still has a techtree entry and strings remaining for it. “Upgrades Chinacos to Texian Lancers, which are trained and move faster and have a powerful charged attack.”

Central America revolt had a Costa Rica Isolation card that blockaded enemy home cities for 2 minutes. I believe there’s a handful of other cut Mexican card effects though I don’t remember exactly what they were to track them down again.

The popular profile pic that we got a while back is the icon for an unused Royal Mothers card at DEHCNativeLoreEuropean which shipped a trading post wagon and made Royal House powers have 35% faster cooldowns. Italians had it at some point as a it remains as a prereq in their home city file.

Models for IGC, SPC, and a sword exist for Francisco Pizarro, possibly for a historical battle that didn’t get made.


Interesting how chinese wonders were though to worl. Also It seems that agra fort was intended to get charminar function. Nice victory tower effect tho.

What would this look like in-game and why was it scrapped? Maybe it was complicated for the game engine?

I wonder why these kind of ideas weren’t implemented in AOE-4? Don’t answer, I know why.

I wonder what an AOE sequel would look like completely inspired by games that didn’t stick to the traditional AOE-2 game system, and chose to look further afield like AOE-3, AOM, and AOE-O. Will we ever have the game we deserve?

If I’m not mistaken, the star fort was also a considered prototype. Imagine this in a new version inspired by AOE-3.

Pentagon Fort - Age of Empires III Heaven Forum
Yes, in AOE-4 there are units on the walls, but this is the equivalent of a castle.
Also here you can see that the mechanics could be much more elaborate than the simple wall that you can climb or the simple sheltered castle.