Why do units look like they are made of Plastic or Clay?

None of the units have a sensation that they are made of skin, fur, textiles and metals. Every units look like they are made of clay or plastic.

Why are units not using any material textures?

Here is an example of War elephant, I am taking this example first has it has a large surface area.

Examples of War elephant form previous games
Unit close up, with detailed metal textures which have taken damage over a period of time, be it stocked in the warehouse or battle damage, can see the dents, and make a sense of actual material.
It also shows the wrinkles on elephant skin.

A zoomed out view of Same unit.

AOE 1 Definitive Edition War Elephant

AOE 3 Definitive Edition War Elephant

All these units are detailed and has actual material textures. It gives a sensation that these units belong in that world.

Now here is AOE 4 War Elephant.

It looks like it is made of clay or plastic or that someone used pant bucket tool to fill the colour. There is no sensation that this unit is an actual living animal. The units also lack any battle damage, or gives any sensation of actual materials being sued to craft them.

AOE 4 Royal Cavalry

Just filled with 2D fold patterns and Shiny Grey colour Paint, doesn’t give any sensation of actual metal or Cloth, meanwhile Environment looks like they are from telletubbies with straight cartoon grass with no bends and flowers that look like they are drawn by crayons, exactly on top of a stem.

Cavalry and other human unit comparisons can be seen in this video for AOE 2 Definitive Edition

AOE 4 environment look okish, but units lack any feeling that they belong there. They all look like they are from a Pokemon Game.

Sword and Shield and Let’s Go Comparison

Sword and Shield.

The current graphics style is what makes units look like cartoon, they have no textures on them, but just 3D polygons filled with colours and 2D patterns.

Please change this and add actual material textures, This looks really bad int he current state.

This is Ancestors Legacy, made in Unreal Engine and this is not cinematic screenshot, you can actually zoom inside battle and see the action going.

Here is a video showing German units from Ancestor Legacy, just look at the details of chain mail and textiles.

AOE 4 really needs a graphics overhaul, the current game does not speak it’s AAA or of high production value. The graphics does not give any feeling that those units belong in that period of history using materials sourced from their world, instead looks like a table top game with cheap plastic figures.


I hope there’s an UHD graphics pack or they have added more details in the final version because it reminds me of how I saw Empire Earth when I first played it. This game has an Empires Apart 2.0 feel to it.


Ancestors legacy is very good game. Too Bad multiplayer is pretty much dead.


It’s your typical corporate globohomo art style. Microsoft is a huge tech company trying to be hip and appealing to everyone, in a childish and “friendly” manner, so of course they would prefer this design choice.

You can check this article for more reference


This argument has been discussed many Times (by me and other peoples on this community) and i agree with you.
Unit models are not bad but they Need more improvements, textures and different colours for weapons, armours and chainmails. For now they seem plastica and i often said that in different threads.

Readability Is not to be the only thing: give options to players for Who would play with Better Graphic and Who wanna play competitive.

And the same thing for Buildings, water and ships.

And yes a graphic DLC could be the right choice for many fans: 4k textures, normal Building sizes, Better animations, Blood etc.


I agree with you 100%. They keep saying that they are making this game for us the community but what they really are doing is listening to the 5% that is the council for their feedback which just happens to be about competitive aspects that they bring, but forget the rest of the player base that is the largest part of their audience.

They should start saying that they are making this game for the council and not the rest of us. At least it feels like it, I see no reason why they cannot give the option for those who want better looks and more blood etc to just turn it on for them and vise versa.

I’d expect options like this from a AAA game…


They haven’t even learned anything from past, they focused on Esports for DOW 3, same company btw, and failed miserably. This is gonna repeat once again. Look at Poncha on YouTube about DOW3, it’s hilarious how relic made that game.

The competitive guys don’t represent the majority player base that is gonna buy this game.

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There’s just no material textures in the game. Everything is more or less a flat color gradient. I don’t know who is calling the shots at Relic but it’s hard to believe someone made the decision to have no material textures on the units in the game. The X2019 trailer didn’t have any either, but at least units had intricate details. Now it’s just flat gradients. Shame.


I agree the graphics could be improved by a lot. To be fair though, Ancestors Legacy looks like it has very bad readability. But then again, SC2 came out 11 years ago, has a very good readability and in my opinion, looks better than AoE4. Hope they will improve the graphics, but in the end of the day, I value readability and gameplay above graphics.


nah you should play ancestor legacy or see some videos, look at some battle it’s is dope and very fun to play. They use a squad system.

Ancestors Legacy is a bad comparison.
Age of Empires always was a “Bright and inviting world” and that is what most fans want.
Relatively realistic but bright design.

The design concept behind AoE4 is to make the environment look like a painting with reduced colours but the units with high contras colours so they pop out from the background.
The concept is inherently designed to make a contrast between units and background because the game doesn’t have UI elements like floating flags that other games like Total War have. Ancestors Legacy also needs floating icons to be playable.

AoE4 follows a similar design compared to AoE2 or AoE3. You are free to not like that but if you want AoE4 to look like Total War or Ancestors Legacy you don’t really want an Age of Empires game.

I personally don’t see why so many people think AoE4 looks bad. In my eyes it’s the best looking RTS of all time and it also looks much better than Total War ever did. But I think that AoE3DE looks better than any Total War too.


nah, I like the comic style. Its an artistic choice and they chose to go fr a more painting-ish look than a realistic simulation.
I doubt they will change it.
So to answer your question - because the design team decided to have this graphical style.


Those are good points. Maybe all that’s missing is some polishing in animations and in some small other issues just to make everything feel a bit smoother.

I like the graphics too, but still think it can be improved. I just don’t have enough experience in art/graphics to pinpoint what exactly feels off :sweat_smile:


Damn, I can’t believe I’ve never seen Ancestors Legacy before. It looks so cool. These graphics in the AoE universe would be amazing.


it’s a beautiful game, give it a try it is pretty cheap on steam. it also has a lot of gore, i was expecting something like this for AOE4.

dont you know that the game has always been about the ‘celebratory’ view of history? dont you know that it has always been ‘goofy’ and cartoony? This is what you want. Like it.
Our trusted sources of feedback who represent you agreed. Readibility is an issue too. Accessibility has to be there. Inclusivity is the motto. This is for a broader audience. Esports is where it’s at. This is the next big thing. Be grateful.
tsk tsk tsk

we don’t necessary look to Ancestor’s Legacy or Spellforce3. You should stay into the Aoe Saga and for everyones are saying “AOE has always been brillant and realistic” i can answer “YES” but those words should go togheter. Aoe4 seems Brillant but not realistic and i think it depends by art style.

I installed Aoe3de for a right comparison. Please click on them to view in the original resolution

First of All these are my specs:

Yes, these are High Specs and not everyones could play with them but it’s a CHOISE: It has always been a choise for the Player. For this reason “a good scalable engine” will determine the success of the game. Every player would have the choice to play trhough the way he wants. Essence engine it’s a great engine but the the Art style is not rapresenting it.
Now, look how beautiful AOE3DE is: water is incredible, terrains, vegetation: all is perfect in this game

Readability: i can perfectly see the units behind the house
link internet

So it means that this stupid refrain" readability" can not justified the lack of textures and details on units and buildings

Building Sizes:

Units and weapons sizes: all models seem more detailed and realistic than Aoe4.
All of this comparison to say a simply thing: AOE4 can’t looked worst than the previous one installment. The first impressions are the most important thing for a game at launch: only the brand “AOE” will not save it from a failure if the main base will not love it. DOW3 and AOEO are always there.
I don’t like to move criticism or complaining for nothing but this is the only way to have a better product. Thank you.


i wanted to like that, but it seeems you meant your comment ironically.

But its true, the game has always been about a mre happy depiction, more colorful.
Also, the current graphics do also speak AAA. But a different kind. and thats fine

tbh, I think the vegetation in age 3 DE looks very, very bad. rest looks fine, but especially buildings could use more details and polys, more diverse structures within. all of which age 4 offers.

However the scaling in age 3 is mpre realistic.
But then again, they already changed it in age 4 after feedback, and I think as long as units fit in the doors they are supposed to fit in, I am fine with the current looks.


I wonder how even that is related to “READABILITY!”.
Making some metallic parts of the model more metallic does not change readability, or frame rates, or appeal to school children, or some other fancy concepts like “invitingness”. Just add a little more reflections and dents to the weapons and armours and that’s it.

Look at civ 6:
True cartoony models (that’s when you call it “cartoony”). Colors with sharp contrast. Very bright and colorful. And the metal still looks like metal.