Why ROR campaigns focus on 1 ruler?

Original campaigns in AOE1 focused on the entire timeline of the civilization (except the Roman campaigns, whose history is too extensive for 1 campaign, same with the Greeks and Egyptians maybe).

In AOE2 they introduced campaigns focused on a single ruler, because the game was called Age of Kings.

I don’t see why campaigns in AOE1 have to focus entirely on 1 personality. For example if you take a Hittite campaign, if you focus on 1 ruler only (eg Muwatali), you will get at most 2 scenarios (Battle of Kadesh and the Conquest of Mitanni), for an extensive campaign you have to feature their entire history.

Of course there are ancient personalities like Alexander, where you could focus on him for the entire campaign. But that seems to be the exception, because ancient history is way too obscure for the most part, except for the classical civilizations. Even if you take Egypt, you might spread out their history in 3-4 campaigns, Old, New, Middle kingdoms and the intermediate periods. Very few Pharaohs had such an extensive rule that you could focus the entire campaign on them.

You can make campaigns in the ancient period focusing on 1 ruler, but that seems to be the exception. I think campaigns have to focus on the entirety of the civilization’s existence, except for those I already mentioned.

I’m not criticizing the new campaigns, because those particular rulers were very influential, but if you stick with this idea, you will run out of steam and ideas pretty quickly.

IN SUMMARY: Campaigns that focus on 1 ruler are an AOE2 thing, IMO it’s beter to focus on multiple rulers wihin AOE1 campaigns.

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Many AoE2 campaigns have a final scenario taking place after the mc’s death, fictional parts due to the lack of reliable information, or a focus on a dynasty rather than an individual. It will probably be the same with RoR.

I don’t think the name of the game played any part in this choice, especially with three of the og civs featuring peoples with emperor titles or their equivalent and the other two being landless war leaders. I don’t understand why, but way too many people seem to think a game’s name should be taken as a game design scope statement.
I think the main reason why they made this choice is because it makes the player feel more involved in a story with a narrative, while the og AoE1 campaigns felt more like interactive history lessons.

They could, if necessary, make a campaign covering several rulers, like Bari, the Hautevilles and the Grand Dukes. But focusing the campaign on characters makes it feel like the campaign is guided by a single man’s will, instead of some immortal deiti ruling the civ.

There is indeed often less documentation but none of the 3 choices for ROR were obscure characters. If they made an egyptian campaign it would probably focus on Ramseses II or another high-profile pharaoh, maybe adding his direct successor for the last 1 or 2 missions.


Well, I remember when AOE2 was released and the difference was obvious in regard to the campaign design. First, you had William Wallace, the Viking and the Japanese guy on the cover, then you had campaigns exclusively with 1 leader, and the game was called Age of kings.

I don’t know if that’s a direct reference to the emphasis on the Kings. And then the expansion was called the conquerors, with 3 more conquerors on the cover, more conqueror campaigns based on 1 conqueror.

I mean it doesn’t get any more obvious than this.

It’s not William Wallace as he’s represented ingame as in the movie Braveheart.

We don’t know who the king is, but William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart and Philippe Auguste are likely choices.

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Here’s how I see it (obviously just my opinion): AoE2 has many improvements over AoE1, and the primary purpose of Return of Rome is to bring those improvements to AoE1 as well. One of these improvements is/was that AoE2 campaigns have a stronger narrative than AoE1 campaigns, and they achieve this by focussing on a single title character over a shorter time period. Therefore, the Return of Rome campaigns also focus on a single title character, to achieve the aim of having stronger narratives in the same way AoE2 did.


Yes, there are groundbreaking figures in Ancient History that an entire campaign could be made:
Alexander, the 3 campaigns of ROR, Caesar, Augusus, Nebuchadnezzar (which I’m surprused wasn’ featured), Hamurabbi. And that’s about 90% of the ancient rulers, that an entire campaign could be made on. About half of them are roman.

If you try to cover the Persian/Hittite/Assyrian/Egypt/Sumerian/East asian/Phoenician/Carthaginian etc.etc. history, you would have to cover multiple rulers in order to completely represent fragmens of their history. If you take only Xerxes for example, you will have a campaign where he had a string of losses against the Greeks. If you take Darius I, then you will have the zenith of the Persians, but important conquests of earlier rulers would be ommited from the campaign, such as conquest of Babylon and Phoenicia (by Cyrus).

So except mostly the Romans(and later periods of Greece/Macedonia/Egypt), the historical figures of the ancient world are a bit obscure and we do not know that many things about them. Some of the knowledge on them is mythical (Egypt and Mesopotamian rulers) and thus incomplete and at times uncertain.

The medieval era is much well documented and we have much more certain knowledge of the lives of said rulers and thus can recreate more historical events into the scenarios of the campaigns.

None of the guys you mentioned are explicitely kings (aside from the guy with a crown who, as @DukeOfLorraine pointed out, is certainly not William Wallace who was never king anyway), neither were the characters in the campaigns unless you want to nitpick about Barbarossa being king of Germany and Italy in addition to the more relevant imperial title of kaiser of the HRE. I don’t see how this is in any shape or form an argument proving that the campaigns were designed with the concept of kingship in mind.

Cyrus or Hannibal would be pretty obvious choices. Yes, you would cover only a small part of their respective civs’ history. Guess what? That’s the same for every single campaign, be it those you singled out as exceptions, pretty much any of those from AoE2 and even the og AoE1 campaign, as those only covered figments in time and had to leave huge holes between those because covering everything would be an impossible task. Arguably, if you can cover the entirety of a civ’s history with a single campaign, then maybe it’s not the best civ to include in those games.

Many campaigns still add fictional elements to make things more interesting in terms of challenge or narration or just because we lack datas on those events and historical figures. If it can be done for the Middle Ages, I don’t see why it would be unconceivable for Ancient times.

Personally I think AoE2 campaigns do a way better job of telling a story, while AoE1 campaigns are just a bunch of historical events strung together. Like, in the Greek campaign you go from a random battle of the Peloponnesian war, to Xenophon’s march, and then to Alexander’s conquest of Persia. There’s decades in between and you skip other important events.

Also, I disagree about the Hitt1tes and Egyptians needing campaigns that tell their entire history, you can easily make ones about Suppiluliuma and Thutmose III.


Not really. A while ago I thought about some ideas for potential campaigns for AoE1, and those civs have plenty of potential for stories about single rulers. You have Cyrus the Great, Suppiluliuma, Ashurbanipal, Thutmose III, Eannatum of Lagash, Qin Shi Huang, Pygmalion of Tyre, and Hannibal Barca, all of which have enough material for a campaign, at least of 5 scenarios.

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You get hung up on the Kings word. Think of it as a singular unit, a campaign focused on the individual, not on the collective. It can be a Shah, an Emperor, a tribe leader, a Tsar etc.

And now. The game is called Age of Kings. You have three kings/rulers on the cover. You have campaigns focused on the said kings/rulers/tsars/shahs/we.
Then you have expansion called Conquerors. You have three conquerors/rulers on he cover. You have campaigns, based on the said conquerors.

And you didn’t have this thing in the base game. There was only 1 campaign focused on Caesar.
If this isn’t obvious enough, I don’t know what is.

I’m saying they will put 100% of focus into the indivivual ruler/king/conqueror/tsar/we. I’m saying put 70% of focus into the collective nation/tribe/whatever and then 30% of campaigns to focus on the most influential rulers of the ancient world (Alexander the Great for example).

Ok, you will make a campaign about Hannibal. What other scenarios will there be besides the invasion of Spain and conquest of the Alps? If you make a Carthaginian campaign covering their entire history it will be way more interesting, covering their ups and downs, from almost conquering Rome and the known world and then being entirely annihilated.

And then you will make a campaign about Cyrus. You conquer Mesopotamia and Phoenicia. 3-4 scenarios at most if you milk it. And then the campaign ends before Persia reaches it’s maximum extent. What a let down for the player will that be. Why not base the campaign on the Achaemenid dynasty, rather than just copy-pasting all of the AOE 2 ideas?

We know for sure it’s not Barbarossa indeed, as he’s described ingame as having a large red beard. The difference between king and emperor is secondary but he’d be portrayed with the imperial crown, not a “generic” royal one.


1-Conquest of Media and founding of the Persian Empire
2-Conquest of Lydia
3-Conquest of the rest of Anatolia and Phoenicia
4-Campaigns in the East and India
5-Conquest of Babylon


1-Campaigns against the Iberians
2-Siege of Saguntum and start of the Punic War
3-Crossing of the Alps and battle of Trebia
4-Battle of Lake Trasimene
5-Battle of Cannae

But why copy everything from AOE2? Why do you want to make each campaign exactly like AOE2 with 5 scenarios, focusing on 1 individual, when you can make 8-12 scenarios with much more variety, covering hte ups and the downs of the civilization, with scenarios where you will not just conquer everything but actually defend from enemies?
I mean you just answer half of my questions and not provide a single reason WHY your suggestion is better. The original devs probably had better ideas about the game and the campaigns and their work has to be imrpoved upon, not scratched out and replaced with a 1-by-1 copy of AOE2.

The game will not be very successful, it will be bland and will lose its identity.
We already have AOE2, which is good, why are we making another AOE2 which will 100% be as not as good and destroying completely the ideas of AOE1? Why not develop new ideas and work upon them?

Playing “new” campaigns with AOE2 maps, in the AOE2 setings based on AOE1 civilizations, with another 5 bland scenarios just put in to fill up the content, sounds boring as hell and lazy.

Because AoE1 style campaigns have too wide of a focus. One scenario is completely unrelated to the next and is set decades if not a century after the previous one. There is no “story”, it’s just a bunch of historical battles strung together where you play the same civ. Meanwhile, AoE2 campaigns have an actual narrative, and still manage to have a nice variety of enemies, situations and game styles.

And what else did you expect about a Persian campaign, if not “conquering everything”? They had the largest empire the world had ever seen at the time. And it’s not like the Carthaginians were famous for winning defensive battles…


This is not a movie, it is a historical campaign. It represents historical events that happened in a sequence. So if two important events under two different rulers happened in a sequence, why we have to discard the interesting plot between the two events just because we are constrained by the events under the single ruler?
Ancient world was chaotic, you can not compare it to the medieval feudalism, serfdom and so forth.
If you want a good story, you can make a fictional scenario. This is not about creating a story when you already have concrete historical events that are tried to be represented.

Well, the Greek wars were the pinnacle of the Persian history, hat’s what they are most famous for. It will be a letdown to not include them into said Persian campaign.

And Carthaginians fought 3 wars against the Romans, they weren’t always on the offensive side. Pretty sure they fiercely defended their city before they were finally sacked by the Romans. Why not make a scenario where you have to defend your city for 2000 years from the Romans in order to win? Even though it isn’t entirely accurate historically, it will be accurate from the Carthaginian perspective, because you are fighting for your life and it will be a great final scenario for he campaign, rather than another battle to conquer your enemy when you already had 4 other scenarios where you would battle your enemies?

Good campaigns require creativity, if you can’t think outside of the box you will make the same thing every time and it will be boring and bland.

Get your landing opposed at Marathon, then force the Thermopyles with overwhelming force, burn Athens, get your fleet destroyed at Salamis then your army soundly beaten at Platea. It would play much much better as the Greeks. Not following one character but still focused enough (490-479)

The Persians should have Cyrus (who built his massive empire notably with a healthy dose of soft power), when the Scythians are introduced

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The thing is - AoE 2 also has campaigns that cover more than just one person, for example “Grand Dukes of the West” or “The Hautevilles” from the Lords of the West DLC and it also has campaigns where the person the campaign is named after doesn’t appear at all in the scenarios such as Montezuma. With “Bari” from The Forgotten there’s also a campaign that covers 200 years.

AoE 2 has Historical Battles that kinda work like AoE 1’s campaigns as they are loose scenarios focused on just one aspect.

That’s btw what some people also critizice about AoE 4 as the four campaigns in that game are more or less a modern take on the style of AoE 1’s campaigns.

That is correct, however it is a creative liberty taken by the NEW devs. It is an exception and generally they stick to the 1-ruler campaigns, an idea by the original devs.

I think on ROR mostly the opinion of AOE1 players has to be taken. If we listen to AOE2 players we will get another AOE2. We already have AOE2 terrains, AOE2 UI, AOE2 syle campaigns… What’s the point, when it will never be as successful or as good as AOE2, it will not become the same as the game mechanics and balance are different. Why not give AOE1 players what they want? And we will have no AOE1, because it is broken and dead and the new one has become an AOE2 frankenstein.

I know. But cutscenes and dialogues are more interesting, and don’t need to get in the way of historical accuracy. If anything, they make the campaign more interesting. Compared to what is in Age of Empires 1: an omniscient narrator and… nothing else. The magnitude of the events represented matter nothing if the scenario is boring, which is what most players don’t want.

You mean the wars they lost? You kinda have to make scenarios where you win… Compared to the variety of enemies you would face during the expansion of the empire, that seems kinda boring.

Because they lost?