The building scale is wrong, but it's deeper than that

While there’s been plenty of attention paid to the problems with the small scale of buildings in AoE4 relative to other Age titles, I have not yet seen anyone completely diagnose the problem.

It is not simply that the buildings are too small relative to the units. They are. But that’s not the point. You cannot simply increase their size, because rescaling the height of the buildings would exacerbate yet another major problem – they are too damn wide.

AoE4’s buildings have footprints that are significantly wider than the buildings themselves – they include open space. While this open space allows for some landscaping and artistry, it also adds up very quickly to spread cities out horizontally, choking the field of vision.

This image gives a great view of the building footprint.

Comparing this building to the AoE2 TC drives home the point.

Whereas the AoE2 TC’s footprint literally ends at the exact pixel that the building itself meets the ground, the buildings in AoE4 have this built in curtilage around the building that expands each building’s footprint horizontally. So if you rescale the building vertically, you would only spread this curtilage further horizontally, further reducing the number of buildings you can put on the screen at the same time.

This significantly reduces the building density of AoE4. While true it perhaps makes for a more beautiful landscape visually, it spreads out buildings, making your cities harder to see at once, harder to manage, and easier to get disorientated.

It is also worth mentioning that this spreading out of buildings, preventing them from being built immediately adjacent to each other, is part of the decision the developers have announced about eliminating the ability to wall in with buildings.

Again, this otherwise innocuous and arguably realistic gameplay decision of eliminating walling with buildings (which, I may add, has existed in all five prior age games without any major complaints ever), is not so simple to remove without dramatically altering the visual perspective of players.

This is a big deal. While some players are turned off visually by the scale, the effect on AoE4 is much deeper than that. AoE has a certain feel to it. If you can’t quickly see the right amount of your base, you get kinda lost in it and the placement of buildings begins to feel meaningless or arbitrary. That ends up creating an experience that feels foreign and un-AoElike. I have tons of experience with all five existing AoE games, and they all have about that same exact sweet spot of camera altitude that allows you to see and access about the same amount of the map. There’s nothing magical about how AoE2 does this. It’s the same everywhere. And it comes down to that Goldilocks zone of building density.

I took the image above and based on the size of the building’s footprint roughly measured out how it would look in the prior four Age games. As you can see, AoE4 gives players a dramatically hemmed in, limited field of vision.

Here is what the Viper’s field of vision would be if the buildings in AoE2 took up as much of the field of vision as they do in AoE4:

Age of Mythology:


Age of Empires Online (I love that Roman architecture, btw):

I think Ensemble Studios implictly knew the importance of this goldilocks zone of field of vision, whether they ever said it or not. Clearly it is in the AoE DNA. Yet it is not coming through in these publicly released images of AoE4, and players seem to be processing this as a scaling issue. That’s close but not exactly the issue. If we increased the building size, it would just further exacerbate the scaling problem, which is unique to AoE4.


It is not very realistic that buildings have so much open space around them. In the Middle Ages, Towns were most often made with buildings stacked very close to each other, and in winding streets, as to provide a sort of makeshift defence, in case of a raid.

Like this:

Not like the much more modern city planning, this game seems to have.


So can’t we build buildings glued to each other? Is that area passable by the troops?

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Yes, as soon as the enemy breaches the Walls, your cities will now be wide open, without any chokepoints, so you will not be able to defend properly.

Relic does not know how to make turtling gameplay, as evidenced by all the games they have made so far.
All of Relic’s games are about perpetual offence and RNG damage numbers.


Relic is only doing what World’s Edge tells it to do :wink:

and the ‘community council’


you have no idea what you are talking about. I have been on the community council since 2017. I will not tell you what I have said in that capacity, but you can see what I am saying now about the publicly released info.


Simple and true. I knew that there was something wrong but I couldn’t tell exactly what. They want to force us to play in a way that they want. I hope iam wrong and i am looking for beta to see what it is but this is extremely bad in my opinion.


Tbh I actually think it’s a great idea to enable open space around buildings and generate roads and other aesthetic effects between them. Rise of Nations had that and I thought it was beautiful (sadly that game did not have city walls at all).


  1. It should be up to the player. If the player wants to spend hours of city planning against an easy AI, they should have the opportunity to do that and enjoy it. However if one wants to place them close to each other in a messy way, creating strategic points, as many matches end up with, they should be able to do it as well. They should NOT be forced into spacing them.
  2. That space between buildings in the screenshots are even too wide for actual roads.

You said its a great idea, then you added that its a bad idea x)

" They should NOT be forced" That’s what we are talking about.

In aoe2 I participated in a contest “Build you nicest city” and there was space and roads etc…

Yeah it’s a great idea to have that as an option, not the ONLY option.


Man, I think you dont understand what is happening there. being able to put buildings close to each other allow you to put space if you want. So your sentence is weird, it means that you dont understand what we are speaking about.

“Yeah it’s a great idea to have that as an option, not the ONLY option.”

There is no option about that, IT HAS BEEN ALWAYS THE CASE. AOE1/2/3/4. And no one expect to not be able to do that.

That is the exact point.
You can place buildings close to each other or far from each other in AOE1/2/3.
Now that in AOE4, it seems you can ONLY place them far from each other. That’s the difference.

Or to be more specific: I was mainly talking about the roads etc. that are auto generated when buildings are constructed. Having a large open space around the buildings can give you more room for spawning lawns, roads, or other objects, making city planning better.
However, if that open space is forced, there is no option to place them close to each other at all.
A better thing to do would be generating those aesthetic effects only if there is enough open space, not forcing a large space between the buildings.


Great post.

I think there are three factors to consider in relation to buildings size.

  • Building area: general surface occupied by building

  • Building Height: no explanation needed here

  • Building Occupied Surface (OS): how much of the area is, actually, filled with the building itself.

Maybe what you are saying it’s related to the third factor. An increase in the OS surely will make buildings more realistic without affecting the overall gameplay

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I do think you are mentioning some true stuff here, But I think you are a bit off regarding the field of view/vision.
Becausethe shots we saw still are looking zoomed in. they are not completely zoomed out.

I think the problem is rather the camera angle, it is in a higher arc than it was in previous age games (or 2 at least). I stil believe we may be able to change that hough.

And the footprint being bigger would be no issue to me if it doesnt strongly affect fields :smiley:
However I do hope that rams etc will use the physical building, not the footprint. In some instances, footprints were (unintentionally I suppose) larger in Age 2 than the model, so units could attack thin air^^

So I hope and think, they actually do not really need to change anything here, because thats just the perspective they chose. A 3D game could (technically) easily support a free cam including angles, or at least more varied angles and zooms. and then you can zoom in/out as you wish.


I’d like to see a video or screenshots of that. :slightly_smiling_face:

In most screenshots and videos we have seen so far buildings have been spread out and are rarely placed directly next to each other.
If units are really able to walk between buildings that this system actually allows for even denser towns because you don’t have to have a space between buildings.
The space within the footprint is smaller than the space between two AoE1-3 buildings would be.

We have never seen real skirmisher gameplay with a real view of the town like you would see it in a real match.

Also the house of Wisodm is a bad Example because it can expend with additional wings that take up the empty space in the footprint. As you can see on the left there is only a small distance between the edge of the Footprint where the Military wing is being build while there is a big empty space on the right where nothing is build yet.
Only the Archery Range is build directly next to the House of Wisdom.

We won’t get realistic looking medieval towns but we didn’t get them in AoE2 either.


If the field of vision is the main issue here, would you be okay with just a higher zoom level?

There are some released images that look like they give a quite good field view, if of course they reflect actual gameplay.
I like spread out cities, as long as the maps are also appropriately designed to accommodate them and keep the base building equally satisfying.


I don’t see the HUD so I think that image is not an actual ingame shot at the correct height and angle.


You also have to wonder how much of these city builds are intentionally made to “look pretty” for the screenshots or campaigns. We don’t actually have any image that shows how cities are gonna really look like when made by players.


I hope we will be able to zoom out that far though.