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The Contender
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Is Rise of nations better than age of empires III

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/10/2014 Category: Games
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,384 times Debate No: 58784
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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I'm with you with AoEIII not fitting at all with the other two games in the series. I never liked it. But Rise of Nations is great. It's hard to say which is better between RoN and AoK. They're different, and I think owning both is mandatory! RoN covers a longer time period with more unit upgrades, handles resource gathering by a gathering rate that increases with each worker (instead of having each worker actually pick up goods and deposit them at a collection point), caps gathering rates at a max determined by your research level, has the concept of territory control damaging enemy units, and has benefits for building within a certain radius of a town center. And there's nothing like dropping an ICBM on your enemy's capital. I'd get RoN Gold for Christmas, and if you like that maybe get Rise of Legends in the future. That game is similar to RoN (same company) but with radically different race options and simplified game play....



I must admit to not having played Age of Empires III, but I have played both Rise of Nations and the Age of Mythology series, which is regarded as very similar in gameplay to Age of Empires. Overall, I found that the many deviations from conventional RTS (real-time strategy) gameplay elements in Rise of Nations tended to detract from the game. Subsequent games in the RTS genre, most notably Starcraft II, have rightly chosen to stick with more the more traditional approach. The general problem with Rise of Nations is that it tries to be too many things at once - by attempting to synthesis the features that made the Civilization and Age of Empires games successful, Rise of Nations lost many of their important elements.

I can't think of any particularly good way of organizing this debate, so I'm just going to put my arguments under one heading and number them for simplicity. I will follow up with a conclusion and list of sources, and I may add a separate section for rebuttals to my opponent's arguments later in the debate. I'll try to maintain this pattern throughout the debate in order to keep my threads of arguments easy to follow.


(1) Age of Empires III has better graphics than Rise of Nations.

There are two general schools of thought on the role of graphics in video games. The first views graphics as nothing more than bells and whistles that should not substantially affect game criticism. The second views realistic graphical representation of the subject matter as one of the most important features of a game. I think that both of these views are two extreme, but due to the unquestionable graphical superiority of Age of Empires III over Rise of Nations, I am going to focus my criticism on the first viewpoint.

The primary reason why graphics are an important element of game criticism is that they cannot be entirely separated from gameplay. Lack of graphical quality can make an otherwise excellent game very difficult to play - Dwarf Fortress is the quintessential example. In Rise of Nations, it is often difficult to distinguish units from one another at a glance due to poor graphical design. I offer this screenshot as an example [1]. Note that it is very difficult to tell which of the blue units are carrying spears and which are carrying bows. The red units look so similar that I cannot even distinguish between units facing different directions and different unit types. In Age of Empires III, the units and buildings are very detailed, and there can be no confusion about what they represent. In this screenshot [2], we can easily tell what all the units represent without even having played the game. It is extremely easy to tell which cavalry unit is the hero, and which units are carrying spears or muskets.

Secondly, a game must be judged according to the entirety of its entertainment and artistic value. This means that although graphics due not determine the quality of a game, they must be judged as a relevant factor independently of their impact on gameplay. It is simply more enjoyable to play a game that is more visually pleasing, and graphics contribute the the aesthetics of a game as much as elegant mechanics. Age of Empires III has many modern graphical features that make the game more beautiful, including lighting effects [3], water effects [4], and particular effects [5]. Rise of Nations looks drab and ugly [6].

(2) Rise of Nations has inferior resource gathering mechanics.

My opponent alluded to Rise of Nations' resource gathering mechanics in this opening argument, and I want to delve into that in more detail. Resource gathering is a staple of RTS games - the player must create civilian units and gather resources from the map in order to build structures and train military units. In Age of Empires, civilian units physically move the resources, collect them, and carry them back to drop-off points. Having more civilian units results in gather resource collection because more units are gathering at once, and resources can be spent on technologies to increase the gather rate. Because civilian units have to find resources and move them, many strategic elements are added to the game. Military units can raid enemy civilians and disrupt the opposing player's economy, and this makes it necessary to defend specific points on the map where civilians gather resources. Because these resources are often finite, players must fight for map control.

In Rise of Nations, the resource gather rate is simply fixed to the number of civilians. Civilians do not have to actually transport resources. Resources are also infinite, and because cities can be placed anywhere, it is easily to build up defensive structures around them. In order to compensate for these failures to make resource gathering reasonably competitive, Rise of Nations introduces several unnecessary limitations on gathering. First, the number of civilians that can gather in given resource is arbitrarily fixed by technology. In Age of Empires, this is a practical limitation that requires strategy to circumvent - how to I handle the crowding of civilian units? The rate at which resources can be gathered is also arbitrarily fixed by technology instead of resulting from practical strategic limitations. The end result is that in Age of Empires, economic success is determined by your ability to compete with your opponent on the map, whereas in Rise of Nations it is determined by your ability to spam economic upgrades in the correct sequence.

(3) Rise of Nations is too dependant on spamming technological upgrades.

One consequence of the wide span of history represented in Rise of Nations is that the number of technologies is extremely bloated. This problem is worsened by the fact that Rise of Nations reduces many strategic elements present in Age of Empire to technologies. Rise of Nations requires you to upgrade both the resource gather rate of individual units and the resource gather rate of your whole economy separately. Military units also have ridiculously long line upgrades - upgrades that promote as less technologically advanced unit like a musketeer into a more technologically advanced unit like a marine. This means that although there are a large number of units in the game, there is rarely much variety at a given time. Of course, these line upgrades are independent of armory upgrades, upgrades for individual units, and upgrades for unit types. The result of this overabundance of technology is that the player spends more time clicking on new technologies to research than doing anything else. Even the rate of technological growth is controlled by more technologies, which must be obtained at libraries. Age of Empires incorporates technology and unit upgrades - improving the quality of your economy, military, and infrastructure is an important part of RTS games. However, technological objectives play a much more balanced role and require less attention than the more interesting elements of the game, such as military confrontations and macroeconomy. You can read all about these elements on the wikis for the two games [7][8] - it would be pointless to cite sources for all of these individual claims unless they are in dispute.

(4) Civilization-esque features in Rise of Nations detract from its core RTS elements.

A number of these features have come up in my previous two arguments - the economy is too abstracted in Rise of Nations, and there is too much focus on technological development to the exclusion of other factors. However, Rise of Nations has many other problematic features. The most problematic is territory - areas on the map which are considered under the control of a certain player by virtue of proximity to their cities. Enemy units entering these areas will lose hitpoints due to "attrition" - another unnecessary abstraction. In practice, units do not suffer attrition damage because they can be protected by units that provide "supplies" - a process that is again abstracted to simply be close to the supplying unit. This forces invasions to take place as massive confrontations that are usually won by sheer numbers. In Age of Empires, there are no strict territories - map control comes down to your ability to use military units and buildings to project power. This introduces the need to deal with uncertainty about what you can defend, and balance the need to fight on multiple fronts. The mass battles of Rise of Nations could be strategically interesting if they incorporated features like morale, unit fatigue, and ammunition limits - as seen in the Total War series, or RTS games like American Conquest. However, in Rise of Nations, battles are often reduced to large blobs of homogeneous units banging their heads together.

There are a number of other poor features in Rise of Nations that I could go on about, such as the ability of land units to convert into naval transports, the need to capture cities instead of destroying them like other buildings, the ability to build cities anywhere instead of being limited to settlements. Although some of these features might sound good, all of them detract from gameplay. However, I am running up against the character limit.


I actually like Rise of Nations as a game, and I appreciate the enthusiasm that my opponent has toward RTS games. However, I think that Rise of Nations made a critical mistake by trying to emulate grand strategy games and adapt their features to the RTS genre. I would also suggest that my opponent check out Age of Mythology or Starcraft II.


Debate Round No. 1


Arno forfeited this round.


Unfortunately my opponent did not post arguments for this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Arno forfeited this round.


It seems that my opponent has decided not to actually participate in this debate. Too bad :(
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Paradigm 2 years ago
I really should have proofread Round 1 instead of just using spellcheck, but I'm in a bit of a hurry because I was supposed to go grab dinner at five. Good luck to my opponent!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture