Everything could have been so nice: Just when Hera, one of the best players in the legendary second part, felt a certain tiredness from its ranking matches and tournaments, Age of Empires 4 jumped into the breach and initially did a lot of things right.
From Starcraft, Warcraft and many other strategy games, people stream into Age 4’s multiplayer ladder, experiment with the different races and have fun getting better together.
But the longer they play and the more seriously they take the competition, the greater the frustration about the bugs, the imbalances and the unspeakable indolence with which constructive feedback is translated into patches.
In an announcement video, professional player Hera explained that while he would keep an eye on further developments, I’m turning my back on the series for the time being. Instead, he turns to a game in which he hopes to be able to fully live out his penchant for constant self-improvement and his love of competition and by that he means League of Legends.
By the way, the full announcement video, in which he explains the background for this quite drastic step (for a channel with Age of Empires in the name) to his loyal viewers, can be found here:
link to YouTube content
More Reasons for the Exodus
Hera is not alone in this attitude. Like Niklas, another popular and competitive Age 4 player, from the Bonjwa channel back in January YouTube summed up, there are numerous reasons why gamers who are enthusiastic about competitions prefer to turn to other titles again. For his part, Niklas mentioned the following problems:
- Especially in the success-oriented multiplayer area, it is difficult to really concentrate on fair competition because so many Mechanics failed badly or half at all.
- The balance is miserable. The best strategies had already been worked out by mid-November and it had become increasingly clear that only a few peoples and approaches were actually useful.
- However, these strategies should be so blunt they’re not even funneither on the losing nor on the winning side, which in turn spoils the spectators’ participation.
- Slow patches are one thing, but long-known issues and bugs are to endure for monthswear down the players.
- The own Rank in the ladder feels meaninglessbecause in the tournaments completely different people who were previously ranked rather low come out on top.
He himself had a lot of fun for a while, but is now almost relieved to have finished Age of Empires 4 and no longer have to be annoyed about the incomprehensible update policy.
In their video debate, Maurice Weber and Marco Giesel discuss why the general public was not initially bothered by these multiplayer construction sites:
The huge success of Age of Empires 4 has very good reasons
A snowball effect sets in
Competitive players like Hera and Niklas suddenly found themselves in a quandary: They were happy about an Age of Empires with a modern foundation, felt that they could still learn a lot from their competitive opponents and were excited about the regular one tournaments
But playing is becoming less and less fun for them and their viewers notice that in the streams on Twitch. While an average of 20,000 people were still watching Age 4 on 200 channels in November, interest dwindled by February by as much as 90 percent.
Furthermore, not only the professional and ranking scene is slowly running out of air, but also the general player numbers fall by 20 percent monthly. The majority of leisurely campaign gamers have moved on due to a lack of story updates, and if this trend continues, multiplayer faces one of the worst fates of this genre: death due to a lack of players.
To put that in perspective, Age 4 was around 9,000 concurrent active players on Steam as of February 2022, while the original over twenty years ago released Age of Empires 2 in its HD and Definitive Editions is still being played by a whopping 19,000 people at the same time. 9,000 is still enough, plus all the players from GamePass, but it shows that the core community is giving Age 2 priority.
Age 4 is far from being a bad game. If you want to know why, then read our review of the game:
Age of Empires 4 im Test:
The decisive battle of real-time strategy
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the Age of Empires 4 campaign and would recommend it to anyone looking for entertaining (and surprisingly informative) real-time fare. At the same time, I know all too well the feeling of being dashed by a great multiplayer hope.
It’s frustrating when supposed balance improvements only make things worse; if absolutely necessary comfort functions are not introduced until six months after release; when friends and cherished foes throw in the towel and leave you alone in a game you wanted to love so badly.
I’m not even talking about Age of Empires 4, because anything is actually still possible if those responsible take the right steps. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened in a variety of MMOs, shooters, and strategy games in the past.
They all had the potential for real greatness, but ultimately failed because of all the small, taunting everyday problems that gradually rob their players of long-term motivation. These may seem easy to solve, but the reality of development is often quite different.
I really wish it was different. Because unlike pure solo experiences, multiplayer games serve our need for sporting competition – and that begins and ends with unimpeachable fairness.
What is your opinion on Age of Empries 4? Did you enjoy the campaign and put it down satisfied, or did you also experience frustration in multiplayer? Let us know in the comments!