The campaigns are garbage

I’m what you’d call a mostly casual RTS fan: I’ve played basically every single RTS out there, I don’t really care about the multiplayer aspect apart from playing SC2 online for a bit, I’m here for the campaigns.

Now there’s just one little problem: the campaigns are difficult and not something like Brood War difficult (something that’s considered very hard by the general audience) but something I’d call ■■■■■■■ INSANE. I don’t know who this game was made for really but at least in the original game you could complete both the base game and the expansion with a little bit of struggle.

Here? First things first the AI seems to be a lot tougher than how it was 20 years ago and even that decision is a bit baffling to me because the campaigns in Age 2 were always on the harder side, something like completing Barbarossa for a regular player was quite the accomplishment back then.

The ■■■■ hits the fan when you look at the newer campaigns though, like I can’t even imagine completing some of these without spending a good 5 years practicing, studying build orders, making a Youtube channel about Age 2 tactics and winning a few local tournaments while also constantly measuring my APM. After trying 3 times I literally have no idea how to complete the third mission of the Dracula campaign on the MEDIUM difficulty and I can play through SC2 on brutal just fine.

Personally I’m not that much interested in reaching the pro level in order to play through story missions that should be entry level content really so I’d just love to ask: what is going on here? Is the game so buggy that the new AI is utterly destroying the campaign balance? The target audience for the campaigns is the people who’ve been playing the game for 20 years? I have no idea but I’m having a terrible time with something that I’d like to play casually for fun.

And really it’s just mind boggling how ■■■■■■■ frustrating it is to play against the AI. You can’t ■■■■■■■ use something like onagers or bombard cannons against ranged units because they just dodge ALL OF YOUR SHOTS and even if you chase them down with cavalry they are going back and forth shooting at your soldiers ONE BY ONE. So in order to do something like cut down 5 ■■■■■■■ archers I’d have to micro my cavalry one by one to individually chase down one archer per unit. ARE YOU INSANE? Did anyone who’s not playing the game for 20 years tested this broken mess?

Please rebalance the AI (getting rid of AI kiting? nobody thought about doing that during 2 years of development?), add a lower difficulty or I don’t know because most of the campaign is unplayable garbage and i’m pretty sure that regular people would like to play the campaigns with the new graphics too. I’m sorry for being a regular guy who played a lot of other stuff instead of the same one game for 20 years but now that there’s a remaster that made me interested again could I play too?


Which campaigns do you feel are very hard?

I’m very sure you didn’t have problem playing William Wallace.


Aaand I’m pretty sure that nobody would think that I’m talking about the TUTORIAL campaign when I single out Dracula as the one where I gave up basically. Don’t be a smartass, please, I’m frustrated enough because of the game, I don’t want people too. :smiley:

I get the general sense that the game got brutally hard somehow and that’s backed up by the “tests” I did by going back to HD Edition and comparing stuff. So far I’ve completed 3 campaigns from AoK and AoC and all of them were harder than what I remembered:

  • Joan of Arc was the first “real” campaign of the original game, the one that you could complete on hard without much of an issue. That seems to be generally fine even in DE apart from the last mission, that one I could only beat by basically the cheesing the crap out of it.

  • Barbarossa was a hard one back in the day, now you basically have to donate your blood if you want to complete it on moderate. In the very first mission you get rushed if you don’t take out one of the weaker AIs instantly and even then it’s a struggle and a chore because now the AI just keeps rebuilding its base to the point that once you defeat one it will just go to its allies base and rebuild there, absolutely robbing you even from small victories.

The 4th mission of Barbarossa is borderline unplayable because you’ll just get spammed with large armies from both land and water to the point where going on the offense is just no longer an option. You have to rought it out, build 5-6 castles in the direction of the closest and weakest AI, somehow get into its base and put down a wonder to complete the objective. Ridiculous.

The 5th mission on the other hand is downright broken with the AI’s navy just attacking in your direction, not caring about how the mission is supposed to play out. Completing the mission from Gallipoli was hard in the original game, now it’s impossible:

  • Attila is mostly fine too but the last mission appears to be broken: the last city you’re supposed to take mines around 20k gold by the time you deal with the other AI bases and it will just keep spamming units once you attack to the point that even if you have more troops and buildings to reinforce your losses it just won’t be enough. You have to sneak up to the base with some trebs, destroy it’s town center and then once you attack it will stop making units. Maybe it’s a broken script but pretty embarrassing from the remaster of a 20 year old game.

Saladin seems to be harder too, Genghis too and I just don’t see the reason for that.

I dunno man, I’ve never played this game competitively and when I got DE I hadn’t played it in over 10 years, and I tried Dracula as my first campaign yesterday on Hard and breezed through the first two maps with no effort. Maybe it gets a lot harder later, but it’s clearly not a big insurmountable wall of difficulty. Maybe you just aren’t good enough at RTS games, if you’ve never played any of them properly because you’ve only been playing single player and never learned to approach them the right way to win.

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Umm, the first two maps of Dracula are easy scripted missions, that’s true. You don’t know what’s coming, let me tell you.

I’ve been grandmaster in sc2 for 30+ seasons as Terran. Yes, I agree that the aoe2 campaigns are much more difficult than the sc1 and sc2 ones, but then again, the sc1 and sc2 campaigns you can probably first try ALL of them on the hardest difficulty without a problem.

There are a couple huge things that exist in aoe2 campaigns that doesn’t exist in sc1 and sc2: you have unlimited resources and extremely strong defensive structures. Enemies also seem to start at max or near max upgrades in a lot of missions.

There are also a couple of AI differences in aoe2:

  1. Once one of your units aggro an enemy, they don’t drop aggro even if they move out of range. Use that to your advantage
  2. Wall. You can literally funnel everything the AI waves throw at you through one or two tiles extremely easily and cheaply
  3. Hill bonus. You deal 25% more damage and take 25% less damage from elevation. The AI doesn’t detect hills at all
  4. The AI often has infinite resources (if any resource drops below 1000 it is automatically given 500 of it) and will replenish any lost defensive troops instantly.
  5. AI is dug hard in a defensive position? Just attack something it owns (even if it’s a wall) and it’ll just send everything it owns at that unit. You can really abuse this.
  6. Want to buy more time? Just build a bunch of houses or 1x1 stone walls outside your base. Enemy always attacks the closest thing.
  7. Trash. Just beat them with numbers. Any mission that gives you over 100 supply you should just think of beating them with upgraded trash. Most of these missions aren’t built to handle over 75 human supply; in the high supply missions you can just keep attack moving trash units until the enemy resigns.

As for that archer micro problem. In the HD Forgotten Campaign they tell you to use attack ground or to walk up to the enemies then attack them to stop the micro. These lines won’t exist in DE since the Forgotten Campaigns were redone.


“but then again, the sc1 and sc2 campaigns you can probably first try ALL of them on the hardest difficulty without a problem.”

If you’re a good player? Sure and that’s how it should be, personally I had my fair share of struggles on brutal and that was cool, the game never wanted to destroy my soul. :smiley:

But then again I’m not talking about the standards for the “I’ve been a wizard my whole life” players. You know, you have work, you have other issues that may stop you from becoming a truly great player (like in my case: I really don’t care, I’m fine with my little surface knowledge, there are other games to play) but you still want to complete your little single player campaigns.

You know, why can’t it be like it was before the whole esports garbage when we just had fun and didn’t care about build orders? You could still complete the campaign with that low level gameplay, no? Usually when I see that a game has a super dedicated competitive scene I run away anyway so why let that mentality “infest” the campaigns too? I mean sure, you can have a “40 year old wizard difficulty” option for those people but why is that the ■■■■■■■ STANDARD? :smiley:

Did you know that 90% of the people who played Brood War couldn’t finish it? That’s your general audience, that’s the one you should balance your difficulty around.

For Mission 5 in Barbarossa. You use the transports from the middle right. Right before you obtain them you collect the transports from the top left and the enemy ships will all move to attack those. You can then safely obtain and board the transports in the middle right and land.

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That’s not how the mission is supposed to play out: you have two choices there and both should be viable (if you check HD Edition you’ll see).

Haha when first looking at the title I thought it’s a complaint about campaigns being too easy :laughing:

I can feel the increase of difficulty, particularly in those Last Khans campaigns. Ivaylo mission 3, Kotyan mission 2 and Tamerlane mission 5 especially. But still it’s manageable for me, who sucks at MP games. I still completes every achievement for those new campaigns.

The one I can’t tackle now is the “Hot & Spicy” achievement for Montezuma (Aztecs) mission 3. How on earth could you prevent Tabasco from resigning? :rofl: This idiot does not even fix his own town center, and the Spanish canon galleons are firing at it from the start. OMG…


i finished some campaigns on hard including dracula campaign. gotta say even i , as someone who is playing aoe2 online for more than a year got frustrated sometimes by the ridiculous enemy archer micro. but i was sure its like this ONLY on hard difficulty to make the game more challenging for the non-casual players, which makes sense because thats the only aspect of the campaigns that is hard to deal with for us, simply because that level of micro is not possible by a human, other than that ai’s economy management and army management is pretty weak and sometimes boring for online players.
but did they srsly add that ai archer micro on the lower difficulties too?! that just makes the people who didnt play the game for a long time and just bought the game for the campaign, give up on the game!
also i could imagine giving ai’s extra resources can be unfair to someone who wants to play the game on easy difficulty. it was fun and challenging in some missions for me, like last mission of Alaric, but its just unfair for other difficulty levels

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Yes, the AI does that with its archers (and ships and infantry if you’re shooting at them) on every single difficulty setting.

And really that’s what’s baffling to me: sure, the people who want to play online go and play online, that’s cool but I don’t care, I just want some reasonable challenge in my campaigns instead of half of it being a miserable experience.

Like let’s say that as a game developer you realise that RTS is in a really bad place and a lot of that has to do with stuff like the first two AoE games being so hard that no casual player could complete them. When Age 1 DE came out and I replayed the campaigns I got a few friends to buy the game… ALL OF THEM quit because they couldn’t complete the missions on ANY difficulty setting. Age 1 was always hard so even there it should have been a main priority to balance that all out and ease up on the craziness but nope. Honestly Age 1 DE is even harder than the original game and I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have bothered with it if I didn’t know that game like the back of my hand already.

So RTS is in a niche, apart from a few of these games being alive the genre is basically dead, they spend a bunch of money to bring back one of the classics and playing the campaigns is a miserable experience for new and returning players? :smiley: What does MS want to accomplish here, putting the last nail in the coffin?

There are 27 campaigns here, a ton of content, why don’t make that accessible to people you’ve remastered the game for (I mean I’m sure the existing playerbase was fine with the original graphics, no?), you ■■■■■■■ idiots?

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Do you realize that the Dracula campaign is made easier compared to the original?

Agreed on this one, it’s made harder especially m2.

We were, but the quality of life ideas and new graphics are always welcome.


SC1 missions were mainly either old school war of attrition until the resources ran out, or fixed force where micro was king. I’m more with you re SC2 - first trying brutal missions? I think not! For the base game especially Zero Hour, Engine of Destruction, Haven’s Fall, and In Utter Darkness were crazy on brutal, as was the final mission until I saw about the masssss siege tank strat for the no air version.

As for these DE campaigns, I’ve been leaving it on standard and have only really had any issue with Saladin 2, which was always very difficult. On my first 1999 playthrough, the game clock on that one got over 8 hours. Even with much more experience, I lost first time this time around, by underestimating the raiders and actually losing an ally TC, but second try it was all fine. I’m not looking forward to The Horns of Hattin because I remember that one being particularly crazy as well. But I haven’t noticed them being harder in general than the original, I have to say.

“Do you realize that the Dracula campaign is made easier compared to the original?”
No, I don’t because I’ve never played it but if this is the easier one then I can’t even imagine what alternate dimension the developers are living in.

I don’t know who or what Forgotten Empires is exactly but I very much hope they are not people who did nothing but play Age 2 in the last 20 years because usually the end results are really bad when that type of developer is doing something. Those guys are so into it that they usually lose focus on what’s reasonable and what isn’t and then you end up with games like Xenonauts: a very fine but also very boring clone of the original X-COM that removed all the fun stuff for balance reasons or simply because they didn’t think that something the general audience adored was valueble enough to keep mechanically (like the blaster launcher, the most badass, iconic weapon from X-COM).

That is of course just an example, it’s just that I’m smelling something very similar here with the newer campaigns and the new AI that’s very annoying to play against.

There is nothing worse than everything being to easy, when i played the campaign for the first time like 8-9 years ago, i loved that i didnt suceed every immediately and had to try out stuff, maybe restart some mission from time to time. That’s how its supposed to be. If the game is still too hard just use standard diffculty and turn down the speed, then everything will be way more relaxing. And dont forget to start saving, there is nothing wrong with going step for step fwd and have some backup points in case you fail. The campaigns, especially the original ones have more or less the same AI, the difficulty is more or less the same as it used to be, this isnt comparable by any means with the forgotten campaigns in AOE2HD, where you had real unit spam and even good players were sometimes at the limit. The new campaigns are actually easier than they used to be because the population limit was increased from 75 to 125 (the AI has still 75). Imo they should rather focusing on boosting the AI, espcially on hard, it’s waaay too easy imo.

And one thing:
"When Age 1 DE came out and I replayed the campaigns I got a few friends to buy the game… ALL OF THEM quit because they couldn’t complete the missions on ANY difficulty setting. "
I cant understand that to be honest, because in AoE1DE the AI is way weaker than in the original game, to some extent its also barely working, i dont understand how you could have so much trouble there. There are maybe 2-3 missions that are really tricky due to bugged triggers, but else the rest is extremly easy.


You know that’s not true, right? Age 1 is basically a boot camp for playing RTS, a lot of the missions have certain tricks the game is not showing you and if you don’t know those then some maps can be insanely hard and even impossible to beat. A lot of it depends on having a somewhat deeper knowledge of the base mechanics, some missions even demand you to cheese the AI.

A regular player doesn’t work that way, he will use the limited knowledge he has and he will play by the rules established by that knowledge simply because he has no idea on how to think outside of the box. Once you know the tricks Age 1 is fairly easy, that’s true but a new player doesn’t have the benefit of knowing all the tricks, that’s what you experienced players should learn to understand when it comes to Age 2.

I can complete Age 1’s campaign on the hardest difficulty simple because when I was a kid I played that game for years… but once you start treating it like a regular RTS (one that doesn’t have a ton of design flaws you can exploit that is) the problems arise.

Man. Some of the Age 1 campaign scenarios on hardest were totally crazy. The original Tigris Valley, Mountain Temple, and of course the fixed force missions, for instance. I remember completing Mountain Temple with masses of Bowmen as all I could afford in the end. Good times.

There are definitely tricks that help a lot though, and especially in 2. Like immediately conquering and settling in Burgundian lands in Joan of Arc 3, or taking out their southern town as well and settling there in Joan of Arc 6. And I like that we find such things out after struggling through the first time. I still have to see how I go with some of the newer campaigns!

I gotta agree with Sance, they rly should add an easier difficulty for the campaigns, casual players just don’t know much (or barely anything if they’re new), having AIs microing archers and spamming units even on standard is just unbearable. I’m kind of a veteran when it comes to knowledge of the game mechanics and I play somewhat decently enough, and even for me playing barbarossa’s first map was an annoyance, they start sending stuff at you even before you get your economy going and after a bit they start sending onagers somewhat regularly. I don’t even know how much worse it gets because I rushed the purple player and walled my base at both east shores and then walled around the purple base (I stole its resources after defeating it and also kept its market alive so I could trade, something a casual player prob would never think abt doing). And then what annoyed me the most is having to straight up scan the f****** map looking for any building or unit I missed because if I miss a single stupid pikeman the AI won’t resign. If I, with all my experience, got so frustrated with the first barbarosa mission on STANDARD imagine a new player? that’s just completely stupid

I understand that good players will complain if the campaign is made too easy (because they always do), but that’s exactly f****** why there are difficulty settings! you should balance the harder ones around competitive players and balance the easier ones around people who barely ever played any RTS in their lives, not make those new players having to handle stupid inhuman levels of micro (it’s so broken that once the AI beat my feudal age skirmishers using feudal age archers on equal amounts, and that while I was microing my skirmishers as well, if I hadn’t done it I would have lost even more. so good my archery range was close so I could reinforce them)

Also there’s nothing worse to a standard player to try and ask for help and then all an experienced played does is say “lol it isn’t even hard lmao”, I see this kind of stupid crap all the time around the SC2 community, and it’s this kind of behavior that makes a lot of people not want to play RTS games anymore. “it’s hard? then just get better lmao”. it’s rly infuriating.
Seeing FootedElk911551 say that “anyone can first try the campaigns on brutal” just shows it. Ik a lot abt the game, and even so it was a HUGE struggle for me to beat some of the missions on brutal, especially the last ones from the terran and protoss campaign (literally had to restart and load games countless times to beat those, and i was even forced to download a save for the terran one because I wanted to change some of my upgrades and I didn’t feel like restarting the entire campaign just to be able to change my upgrade, and even with all of that at the end I lost my entire base, and I only beat it because I managed to cheese to delay kerrigan from getting to the artifact in time (flame towers ftw), if I had to wait for 5 more seconds I would have lost). This is one of the things that makes me not want to play SC2 anymore, I don’t wanna see people like that in AoE2 as well.


My issue with the campaigns was always that they were too easy!!! So what the OP is complaining about I see as a huge improvement. I actually have to try on hard now. The first time I’ve enjoyed them in years.

So, quite the opposite, the campaigns are not only not garbage … they’re the most fun they’ve ever been!