Age of empires fans are (still) mad about age of empires 4’s graphics

April 29, 2021Yup, they"re still angry, but there"s also plenty of appreciation going around as well

On April 10, 2021, we were treated to our first real look at the highly anticipated RTS game Age of Empires IV. We learned about the chiến dịch, two new civilisations, some of the new features, & even a little bit about the Age of Empires 4 release date. Also on April 10,concerns appeared on the official Age of Empires forumsregarding the game’s art style.Weeks later, that debate is still raging.

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User Jimmy19846071 started the main thread, voicing their opinion that Age of Empire 4’s art style looks “cartoonish”. It wasn"t the only thread lớn emerge regarding the graphics, but they’ve all since been merged inlớn one super-thread keeping the debate in one place. You can also see similar concerns being raised in places like r/pcgaming, as well as the game’s official Steam forums.

The debate is multi-faceted; generally speaking, there seems lớn be a lot of concernfrom some that the graphics are ‘cartoon-ish’, although most take umbrage with the game"s more subtle visual effects, such as what some fans think areoversized weapons, large arrows, và other less "realistic" effects.

Readability – & the art direction in general – is actually something that was a core part of the messaging that came out of the tín đồ pReview event.


During an open Q&A we attended in the run-up to lớn the reveal, art director Zach Schläppi was very open about some of the concerns that drove their decision making: “When we started the visual direction, we wanted to lớn make sure that the building of the cities and settlements were as exciting as playing it & as easy,” he said.

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“We vì chưng things to help the players recognise units much more quickly, lượt thích enlarging the weapons, making the colours more differentiated against the environment… and making sure there’s a consistent footprint between each civilisation between each building function.”

“Readability and playability are top on our danh sách in terms of the visual direction, & making sure that it is as welcoming as possible to the experienced players & also to lớn new players.”


Not everyone is on board with this concept, it seems. Detractors have pointed lớn everything from SpellForce 3, khổng lồ Age of Empires III, even the recently announced Manor Lords, as examples of games thatuser modern and/or ‘realistic’ graphical designvà still play well.

World’s Edge creative director Adem Isgreen has since commented (sort of) on the debate around graphics. On April 19 he guest starred on episode 53 of the XboxEra podcast. Towards the over (start 1:18:00) a question comes up that hints at the wider debate và asks about the decision making around the game’s art style:


Isgreen comments that the original Ensemble developers had always wanted to create a “bright và inviting world” with the Age of Empires series, something that Relic felt was important to maintain coming into lớn Age of Empires 4. He also mentions that footage shown during the bạn preview was “months old”, & talks about how the developer’s main focus leading up khổng lồ release will be on polish and tuning, which can include graphics.

On the Age of Empires forums at least, plenty of in-game screens have sầu been posted to lớn show the game’s current state, with many Age Insiders & community council members speaking up in defence of the art style. Just as manyseem excited by the game’s modern look, as not.


Of course, this isn’t the first time the community has reacted negatively khổng lồ the graphical thiết kế in Age of Empires 4. Bachồng in 2019 during the X019 sự kiện, plenty of community members were complaining that everything in the trailer was so bright. Isgreen commented then as well, mentioning there were “options” khổng lồ turn down things lượt thích saturation.

Buy Now:Age of Empires is on Games Pass for PC

At the time of writing, Age of Empires IV is due lớn release sometime in the fall of 2021. We imagine the graphics debate will still be raging by then.

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Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Chapter master of"s strategy nội dung, Joe was previously editor for The Wargame thủ and Strategy Gamer, và has written for Rock,Paper,Shotgun.