Age of Empires Definitive Edition versus AI is Tremendously Difficult
In my week or so with Age of Empires Definitive Edition, I’ve come to one realization: this game – even on easy – is ridiculously hard. Whether you see this as good or bad, it is not a great way to get new fans attached to the franchise, especially with more Age of Empires products on the way. When playing online with other humans, the game plays phenomenally, and I’ve been having a great time. When it comes to single player matches, however, something just doesn’t seem right.
Age of Empires Definitive Edition offers numerous levels of difficulty, ranging from easy and standard, to hard and very hard. As I’ve played through a good chunk of the campaign, if come to realize that, even on easy, the game is much too hard for the average Age of Empires player. I can best illustrate this with one example.
When playing through a specific campaign, you start with a small town, 3 villagers, and 3 club men; you also stat with roughly 200 of each resource. What no one expects to happen, however, is for 5 horse scouts to entire your camp at the 2:20 second mark of the game, and begin terrorizing you. Should you somehow end up prepared for that – it’s unlikely you will be in 2 minutes – that is followed up by another attack of 2 more horse scouts and a handful of axe men. All of this occurs in under 5 minutes.
The only way for me to successfully complete this scneerio was to send all three of my villagers to construct a wall, blocking their entrance into my camp. I’ve played Age of Empires long enough to know that this is not the intended path to victory in an campaign game.
This difficulty extends over to custom games as well. The general Age of Empires formula is that enemy AI will attack relentlessly the player with the highest score. For fun one evening, I loaded up an 8 player custom game with easy AI, 2 players per team. And wouldn’t you know it: within the first 5-6 minutes raiding parties from the 6 enemy teams started riding into my camp, despite the fact that I had the second least points at the time.
Something is broken here, and I hope it gets fixed.
Now for some good news. First, not every campaign is ridiculously hard. It seems that about 10% of the scenarios I played had a difficulty level problem. Second, when you get online, or play with others who have the game in a LAN party, you are in for a very fun time, one that is easily worth the $20 price tag!