What ROR could/should have been

I’m a bit disappointed by the DLC.
I think these couple QoL-Features could and should just have been added to AOE1:DE.
I was hoping for a more drastical overhaul, with Civs having Unique Units and Technologies, possibly even making the whole Tech-Tree more AoE2-ey.
I think one of the key weaknesses of AoE1 is, that the civs don’t feel distinct enough from each other.
Yes they make a difference, but not enough for the average person to really be meaningful.
As in AoE2 a lot of civ-bonusses you only really notice, appreacheate and use if you are at a certain skill level, a skill level that a fast part of the playerbase does not have. If you’re new to AoE if your shepherds work 20% faster or you got a certain tech for free or whatever will not be the decisive factor in wether you win or loose. In AoE2 we have UUs and UTs to distinguish the civs further and make them different and recogniseable even for new players.
If you’re not super deep into the numbers most civs play very much like any other civ, at least if they focus on the same type of unit. Making the game become more repetitive and doesn’t engage most players long enough to get really into it and appreachiate the less recogniseable bonusses.
The AoE1 system worked in 1997 along its contempories that in a lot of cases didn’t even have different factions (for example Warcraft 2’s humans and orcs are the same but reskinned)
This AoE1 remake could have been a great opportunity to double down on the destinctiveness, making civs even more different from each other. In AoE2 we now have 42 civs, so its hard to think of a new thing for civs, that doesn’t put the whole balance out of whack. But with AoE1 its only 16(+1) civs, so there are less bonusses already taken or established civs to consider, so AoE1 could have gone in a direction of less but more distinctive civs as opposed to AoE2s lots of but more same-ey civs.

Another thing where AoE2 is way superior is the tech tree of units and counter-units.
The remake inside AoE2 should’ve retooled the tech-tree a bit more towards AoE2, like having a more late-game viable slinger-line (aka skirmishers) and some sort of Pike-line equivalent, while on the other hand toning down the viability of Chariot(Archer) spams, which are way too good as trash units.
Also an iron age Camel-upgrade should be considered.
Mono-comp spams are too viable in AoE1.

So to summarize I think AoE1 isn’t popular (any more) is because of a lack of playstyle variety with different civs and a not nuanced enough techtree without the deliberate play and counter-play of AoE2.
The lack of QoL features is certainly a point as well but the most glaring stuff was already adressed in DE (mainly farm reseed) and the rest could have just been added into DE.
The remake in RoR does not adress these and therefore I think the novelty of it will wear off quickly and it won’t build up a long lasting community. This isn’t really different enough from the AoE1 remake we got in DE to have any other fate.
I don’t believe missing market trade and gates were the only things that prevented AoE1DE from having a sprawling community.

What do you think? Am I right in these assumptions on the flaws of AoE1?
Should they have done something different with RoR, or is it what you wanted out of it?
What other things do you see preventing AoE1 from having an active community?


I agree with most of your points but I think it’s a good idea have both games in one. That will guarantee that all new technical improvements for AoE2 are also added to AoE1 and it makes it easier to switch between both games.

Most people here want UUs and UTs for AoE1/RoR.
They were probably more conservative with the DLC because they wanted to get the large Vietnamese fanbase to migrate over from original AoE1.

Camel Riders are just the most noticeably symbol of what is missing in AoE1.

The differences between the civilisations are already pretty big though.
You need to remember that the tech trees vary a lot more between civilisations in AoE1.
For example there is only 1 civilisation on AoE2 that doesn’t have the Two Handed Swordsman.
A lot of civilisations in AoE1 miss a lot more different units, often already in Bronze Age.
Also civilisation bonuses are stronger. Imagine 50% faster attacking infantry or +1 attack for all archer units as a bonus in AoE2.


I’m just thinking that this is barely different from what we already got in DE, so its kind of superflous.
AoE1:DE isn’t going away, so we can still fire it up whenever we want our fix of AoE1.
I wished they had taken the opportunity to create something we don’t already have.

I guess you’re right that tech-trees vary a bit more in AoE1.
But I think you remember the civ boni stronger than they were. I did as well, but I just checked and for example 50% faster attacking infantry doesn’t exist. Romans have -33% reload on sword-line, which is pretty much like the Japanese +33% faster atacking infantry.
Also for ######### they have +1 attack for archers but are missing the advanced archer line.
So AoE1 was to some degree doing the thing that AoE2 does as well, where a bonus seems huge at first glance but is dampened by a hole in the tech tree (Like Franks +20% Cavalry HP seems OP, but without bloodlines its not that much more than other civs, or Goth -35% cost on infantry isn’t as OP when you factor in they’re missing the last armor upgrade.)
Still I think they still could have doubled down on the destinctiveness, even if some civs have some strong bonusses already.

  1. maybe the bonusses I looked at where already affected by balance changes and originally a civ had +50% attack speed on infantry
  2. Why does a forum about Age of Empires censor the name of one of their playable factions? Why do they even censor the name of a historic nation of people at all?
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I agree that ROR civs should have UUs and UTs. I was hoping for an ancient-themed AoE2 reskin, but am getting something considerably more primitive. I’ll probably play it, but it’s not gonna be nearly as fun.


-33% reload time is the same as 50% faster attacking.
They changed the wording in RoR to 50% faster attacking.

And the +1 attack applies to mounted archers too. Heavy Horse Archers are really strong and so are Chariot Archers.

Yes but it sux.
I really don’t enjoy playing it because so many features are missing, you can’t even queue commands.

Oh yes, you’re right, I made a math error. It means they get 3 attacks in for every generic 2 attacks = +50%

It is hard for me to assess what aoe2ror shoukd have been, as I am globally happy with what it is.

I am more interested in yet another version of aoe 1 with only the aoe2 perks (mods, replays), some balance changes (which feel nice), a couple of features (happy with gates and trade, fine with resources buying/selling), and an improved AI (which sadly felt underwhelming on sotl video).

I am not interested in castles, new units and UUs for aoe1. And I feel aoe 1 civs feel way more unique/different from each others than aoe 2 civs, because the civs have much bigger holes. Whereas in aoe 2 most civs have basically the same castle age options.

I would also be interested in a complete revamp of aoe 1, but not as “aoe 1”, rather as “aoe 5” or so. Then I’d have no problem with entirely different units, or even civs all having different units. But this would not be aoe 1, at all. Anyways, there is still aoe2 rome@war which look great but that I still havent tried yet.

Regarding aoe 2 civs, I could easily make over 10 civs which would feel unique to me without adding any weird bonus, unit or building (like a paladin civ without halberdier, an archer civ with horrible skirms, or a civ that doubles down on gold units as counter units like Sicilians could have been).

For the reasons why aoe 1 is so unpopular out of vietnam/china, I would say:

  • aoe 1 balance is awful due to chariot units, as you said
  • some aoe 1 civs like Greeks and old Cartagenians, feel helpless in early to mid game, as they are “designed” for deathmatches. Likewise, some matchups feel helpless coming to a point in the game, like playing bronze age against Macedoneans as Persians, Egyptians, or any civ with subpaar eco and not top-tier centurions. This is way worse than the usual aoe 2 goth matchup, where every civ can do stuff against them in castle age
  • The lack of walls in stone age and lack of garnisoning before aoe2RoR is like a death sentence if you cannot push deers and age up very quickly.

Regarding your ideas about upgrades to slingers and camels, I guesd it would be nice but would not change much as they cost gold/stone and it should be normal to go power units instead of counter units late in the game. The “pikes” of aoe1 are the hoplite line, for it is a fine design choice.

Anyways, aoe2RoR was probably made out of tough choices because the community is very split about what they want (many want a aoe1 clone, many want a aoe2 clone, many wsnt something else) and the base game is very flawed design wise, which makes it hard to improve without changing everything.
I have to try Rome@war, maybe this mid will show me something I still cannot imagine.


There’s actually a mod for the original AoE 1 that adds Unique Units and Technologies:

I’ve tried it and tbh, while it sounds good on paper, it doesn’t really add much to the game.
Imo, RoR is as fine as it is as all that it needed was to get rid off the mechanics that let feel AoE 1 feel old (i.e. lacking formations).

But I’m sure, there will be some dedicated modders that try to implement UUs and UTs in RoR for people who really want to play with them,


RoR is quite likely to get new updates in the future, especially if it receives well, it’s possible UU’s and UT’s will be added at some point. Personally, I expect UT’s sooner should they ever appear, and it’s possible RoR would lean more into regional units or unique unit upgrades rather than the generic “everyone gets one UU from the same building with an elite upgrade with the same skin”.


I’m not making a judgement about how good I think Return of Rome is until I’ve actually played it. Generally, it looks like what I expected it to be – with the added bonus of new campaigns, which I wasn’t expecting. My main concerns are that 1v1 games will usually end in Tool Age, and that the AoE2 terrain is too big relative to the AoE1 buildings. (Especially forage bushes, which are taller than the Mesopotamian granary.)

Adding unique units and techs would be an obvious thing to do, but I think the benefit would be minimal. I’d be more interested in expanding the tech tree in general, and including some regional units – especially if there are going to be more civs added at some point.

I don’t think this is true, or at least not to the extent that it’s a problem. In Return of Rome, I’d say every civ (except maybe Phoenicians) has at least one impactful bonus that a comparatively unskilled player can appreciate – usually a military bonus. I played AoE1 as a teenager and I never thought the civs were too similar to each other, even though I had no appreciation of economic efficiency in general.

Slightly off-topic, but this is stretching the truth. Basic unit stats were the same, but they had different spells and upgrades in enough cases to make the two races feel different.

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I think they should have :

  • made civs more unique, maybe with UU? Where to produce them?
  • redesign the Tech tree (no branches that leads to nowhere)
  • reasign in which building can be research the techs
  • redesign the original campaigns completely. I would like one campaign per civ, especially for Egypt and Greece.
  • I hope they will add more campaigns and civs (Gauls, Indians) with future DLCs.
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I don’t think it’s necessary to introduce unique units. The game would lose its essence.
But it would be good to include new units, perhaps regional ones that replace other generic ones.
If the tree is wide and more varied, the civs can be differentiated enough without UU.

As you just mentioned, there are units that are rarely used. For example, the camel hardly serves to face the Bronze cavalry. The slinger needs an upgrade to give it range. It has a maximum of 6 when the archers have 10.

But the most important. Light Cavalry (Scout upgrade) only for those civs that don’t have Chiariots.


The Academy which means Persians need to have access to it

Actually, that’s just a display issue and I wonder why that was carried over to RoR.
I think Barracks and Archery Range are the best examples here:

It looks as if the Axeman becomes the Short Swordsman in Bronze Age whereas the Short Swordsman is just one of the three types of units you can train in the Barracks. Similar case with the Improved Bowman appearing right below the regular Bowman.

Agreed. Maybe even add upgrades to already existing units such as the Slinger.


unique units wouldn’t work cause aoe1 takes place so far into the past that a lot of civs barely have enough info to tell us what would makes them unique. Regional units seem more likely like crossbows for chinese dynastic civs or unique academy units replacing hoplites with more “culturally appropriate” units.


I disagree, there are tons of candidates for unique units, if one were so inclined. A great source for that are army lists for ancient miniatures rules, such as the Impetus rules set.

On the other hand in AoE2 we have civs with lots of info about them and still there are almost fantasy UUs like Mamelukes, or berserkers… but still they are cool and fun to play and match with their Civ feeling

This. I don’t think unique units are a good idea for AoE1. It doesn’t have to be an ancient AoE2 clone as it would lose it’s essence as others pointed out. Adding new civs, new unit upgrades like Improved Slinger, Heavy Camel, Light Cavalry etc. and improving the balance would be far better for the game.


Personally I wouldn’t mind an AoE1 remake (which means different things from an “all-new Antiquity RTS”) that’s near-100% regional units with no full overlap between two civs.

So AoE5?
So basically what AoE4 is to AoE2?

My take has always been, the more like AoE1 RoR is, the less sense it makes as an AoE2 DLC. If they had gone in more of a R@W direction with much greater emphasis of AoE2 style gameplay and mechanics, I think this would have been much more justifiable. So my preference would have been to maximize AoE2 type features (agnostic about UUs though) while maintaining the ancient theme. Oh well. On the one hand, it’s nice that AoE1 fans get what they wanted (maybe?) but on the other, I resent that it was done in a way that imposes obvious costs on AoE2 (and honestly just feels bizarre cramming one game into another). Anyway, it’s a weird contrast from my usual excitement for a DLC. Really wish they had kept them separate rather than saddling Age2 with the weight of its less successful predecessor (that they had plenty of time and opportunity to get right with AoE1:DE, but didn’t). Maybe this was the best decision “for the series” at the end of the day, but if so, it’s unfortunate that they painted themselves into this corner.

Guess I’m curious what assets they would use for UUs. IIRC AoE1 was extremely barebones as far as additional units/heroes that didn’t have generic sprites - the only one I recall being different was Hero Jason.