Two graphs tell you why AoE4 is lacking texture

In AoE4, you can tell the number of tiles on the Chinese well (in the center of the house): 12.
In AoE2, there are so many tiles on the roof that can’t be counted. This is the reason why AoE2 building looks more realistic because it has finer texture.

It has nothing to do with 3D model. It is just a graph. This is why we say AoE4 has a low texture.


AOE4 graphics are also blurry which really annoys me a lot.
I hate motion blur so this is a huge problem, for me.


Yeah I wonder what causes that. Maybe it’s the shadow map issue they mention in this review.

Very annoying.


Me too. I’m beginning to think for me it’s not going to be ‘wait till it gets better’. It’s more likely going to be ‘skip this one’.


Yeah shadow maps and bump maps.

Also use of tessellation, ambient occlusion…all that felt so lackluster or straight up missing. Seeing that CPU/GPU usage analysis of Digital Foundry shows why. They bottleneck themselves so hard, there’s not much room upwards.


Hopefully the game will be fun enough that we can overlook weaknesses in the engine for now. It all depends on what the devs do next.

texture issues can be fixed by ultra hd mode or with some modes. Not big issue i think.

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Where did your AoE 4 screenshot come from? Did you capture it directly from the game, or is it from a compressed source such as a YouTube video? I assume the AoE 2 DE screenshot was captured directly from the game.

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My friend sends it to me. Anyway, we can see it directly in the game soon!

Doesnt really matter. You can clearly see the roof reacting to light like it is a flat surface. No info about depth used to light it correctly.

Would still be interesting to know on which settings this was taken.

What do you mean with “a graph”?

The AOE2 building is a high poly 3D model which then gets turned into sprites. That allows them to add as much detail as they want to the model, since the game doesn’t have to render the actual model, just the picture taken of it in a certain angle (and scaled for different resolutions depending on your graphics settings). Same for units (just a lot more pics to cover all 8 directions it can face).
They can also touch up individual sprites afterwards for extra detail.

Here an example of the original AOK (Source: AOK post mortem on

So yeah, it would be wrong to expect an AOE2 model 1:1 put into AOE4. But your picture shows essential 3D techniques missing, deactivated or not working correctly (shadow/bump-mapping for the roof).
Maybe they wanted that look? Who knows? Looks bad though and does not give me the illusion of a tiled roof.


I agree the lighting is bad, but the general softness and lack of fine detail may be being made much worse by it being more zoomed out and taken from a compressed source. I’m not going to buy the game just to capture the screen to show how bad it looks, but hopefully later today someone will post a fairer comparison.

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This comparison actually makes me sad. Also explains why it was so ■■■■■■■ hard to find where my market was. That and being unable to press ctrl+m to go to market (how the ■■■■ a game has “gone gold” without that support is beyond me)


I agree, buildings and units in AoE2 are incredibily sharp, crisp and clean.


I mean, AoE II doesn’t use textures (at least in the same way they’re used in Age IV), so I’m kinda not understanding the point of the thread, except as yet another “AoE IV looks different and I think this is bad”.

It’s like comparing a game that uses sprites and a game that uses textured, fully 3D models. Well, it’s not “like” that. It’s exactly that :sweat_smile:


Also, in the interest of correcting information shown in the OP: I believe that’s a cropped screenshot from the Definitive Edition, and not the original game.

People might say “who cares”, but I feel it’s important to highlight this when it’s being presented as base AoE II. For the record, this is AoE II (HD Edition, Steam). I didn’t want to waste time ranking up my civ as I haven’t got a bunch of time right now, but I think we can all agree the graphics are noticeably more pixellated.

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Not sure why you’re taking a screenshot of HD to add here considering DE is now the active place to be (for better or worse).

My only point is that whilst HD is more pixellated, it certainly still is crisper and clearer than aoe4…

I genuinely don’t understand why aoe4 looks the way it does…


As you say, thats the nature of comparably low res sprites ^^

Why should we compare it with an older AOE2 version? Thats essentially art made for a maximum res of 1024x768. It for sure will become pixelated when scaled further with patches and later the HD edition. DE on the other hand provided art for modern resolutions, so thats the fairer comparison.

It will still be much easier to read than 3D without proper techniques applied (e.g. anti-aliasing or shadow techniques). You can even see level of detail changes popping in, when scrolling around in AOE4. The old sprite based systems are just very consistent in that regard (and limited).

But then again, not sure what OP @PaperThyme9230 really wanted to express here.

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You can dislike the graphics, but comparing these two pictures is laughable. I’ve played the demo and the graphics are not at all that blurry. That is a poor screenshot from a low resolution version of the game. Let’s be fair.


Definitive Edition is a complete revamp, graphically, of AoE II. It isn’t AoE II, that was all. It takes a game that a team already developed, worked on, and finished, and adds a bunch of things on top.

So, to your answer of “why AoE IV looks the way it does”, it’s because you’re comparing it to a game that was, effectively, developed twice, to a game that was developed once.

I mean, there’s nothing wrong with preferring sprite graphics. But what you seem to be complaining about is the art direction. If I’m wrong, and your complaint is blurry textures and nothing more, at least we don’t have long to wait so we can look at actual screenshots of the game, as it looks on our computers :wink:

Anyone can compare any game with whatever they want. I was just trying to provide some clarity in the comparison, considering it’s quite obviously biased against Age IV.

At the very least, it isn’t long until people can compare fairly, with actual screenshots from the game, and not ones “sent from a friend” that look like they’re grabbed from a YouTube video or the like.

And then we can go round in circles again with people interchangeably using “art direction” and “graphical quality” :sweat_smile:

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:joy: :joy: :joy:
So we have to wait for Age of Empires IV Definitive Edition, gotcha.


It has nothing to do with the resolution. It is about texture. Even if you play with 8k, 16k, the number of tiles won’t increase because it is just modeled/graphed in that way.

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