A lot of people feel strongly about this. I quite like the style of UI the game, others feel very much the opposite.
The game’s been out two years. The devs have been adding to the UI with bits and pieces over time. I don’t think any kind of full rework at all is coming. I think they’ll continue to refine what they have.
I think UI should be “boring” so you can concentrate on the actual game with the actual units.
Also AoE1-3 have the issue that there is sometimes a disconnection between the unit icon and the actual unit.
In AoE3 especially because the icons don’t change with upgrades.
I even wish AoE4 had more abstract icons that just show the weapon types instead of a visual representation of the unit, because that is often wrong again (like all Spearman have the same icon despite looking very different between the civilisations).
But I’m the type of person that likes playing with Nato counters.
A real general wouldn’t use drawings of the units, a real general would use more abstract symbols.
Some games do things like using banners with Chinese character or Medieval European Heraldry for the different unit types so it fits into the setting but I assume most people would have struggles reading that.
Total War often draws the unit icons in a period appropriate arty style but not always.
Their latest installments improved a lot.
Total War Warhammer etc. now illustrates the exact unit, and people love it.
If they go back to the old same art style for every region, people will get furious, as players will see it as a degradation of the game.
Ironically CA like many other game developers are really good at “shadow degrading” the “unnecessary”aesthetics in Total War games though, to save efforts.
Like for some games you have hand-drawn icons while for some others they just paste the unit 3D models onto them.
In WH they heavily focused on (and advertised) detailed animations for the large units while the animations for the other units were downgraded, especially reloading animations of firearms and artillery which were a thing since M2 (only re-invented later in the series, for a small number of units).
And if you point that out you will be faced with the same familiar arguments of these are not necessary/realistic/deal-breaking, you need to understand software development and business, they contradict with this or that aspect of gameplay (like there is no single way to accommodate), I don’t personally care about them, etc.
To be fair, I have a fair number of barriers and they have been breaking them down in the last two years, which is great. Hopefully they will address this soon (as well as hotkeys – I just want to click on a villager, press H, and build a House).
Hmmm, I do not recall reading before that the number of buildings is responsible for this. I agree that previous titles may have fewer buildings. (AoEO civs have 18 buildings, which I believe is similar to those of AoE3, and I count 22 plus Landmarks in a given AoE4 civ. Of those 22, at least four would fit snugly into one slot in other games – two kinds of walls and two kinds of gates.)
At any rate, I hope future games allow us to set our own hotkeys.
I don’t use those gunpowder units in Total War games.
Really not many people like this kind of unit.
This is why they prioritize other units in that franchise.
I really never used any Empire tanks and artillery or fire-armed soldiers.
Most people think just like me.
My friends also play the usual archers, beasts, monsters, magicians, and warriors etc without any gunpowder weapons.
Really only a minority of people play those gunpowder units.
AoE2 also didn’t have a 1 button build.
It also has sub menus.
Same with SC2 (just one submenu).
So going from AoE2 to AoE3/O is already a change.
The series had both systems and one is not inherently better then the other.
AoE3 recently run into the problem that they run out of building slots for the Dutch so they had to move a building to a different unit, something that is not an issue when you have multiple submenus.
Also submenus have the advantage of making it easier to find buildings for new players.
Despite the fact that I have more play time in AoE3 then AoE2 or AoE4 I personally find it easier to find a building in those games.
The best option of course would be to let the player choose.
Let people bind direct hotkey to buildings if they want to.
You will usually only build one Blacksmith, one University etc. so having to press multiple buttons for those is not really an issue.
But you want to be able to quickly build a house or a mining camp.