Resolve Issues

AoE2 DE lags due to excessive .PNG game assets

I wanted to bring up this topic a year ago but I held back hoping that the developers will have fixed it by now. Sadly, it appears that most new patch releases keep amplifying the matter in hand by adding more and more .png files to the game. Yes, png file format is not GPU friendly.

.PNG VS .DDS in Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition

The png format takes longer to load into the video memory and most importantly occupies unnecessarily larger space on video memory based on width and height of the respected png file. Consider this asset for example
impact dust aoe2 de
It is a 2048x2048x32 bit png file occupying 7MB on raw disk. However once it’s loaded into the video memory It will occupy at least 20 MB.  The .dds format of the same image on the other hand will always occupy 4 MB in the video memory regardless if the DDS file is 8 MB or 20 MB or higher because the DDS textures can be directly and quickly read (no extra processing/conversion needed) by the GPU so the file size of a .DDS does not matter.

It has been pointed out by a developer “StepS_” from the Forgotten Empires team that AoE2 DE does not use png assets anymore and those are just leftovers (can be deleted). However the UI menu could be optimized better.
Currently the game deploys over 7600 .PNG files (most of them are used by the menu UI)
AoE2 DE png files
We observe that patch releases keep adding more png files into the game.
Update 56005 (17 November 2021) :
Update 56005 (17 November 2021) -Depot 813781
Update 56005 (17 November 2021) - Depot 813782
Update 58259 (31 January 2022) :
Update 58259 (31 January 2022) - Depot 813781
Update 58259 (31 January 2022) - Depot 813782
What’s the solution?
.PNG files should be all converted to a GPU friendly format such .DDS which is currently supported by AOE2 DE.
Why PNG lower game performance?
.PNG files are optimized for raw disk storage. DDS files textures are natively optimized and supported by GPUs and load way faster than PNG format or other lossless formats.
Will .DDS files improve FPS and decrease memory usage?
Yes, significantly.
What’s the downside of .DDS format?
They take higher disk space compared to lossless png formats as a result the game size increases.


Indeed switching to DDS is no easy task for the developers, It will take days or months to get it done but the outcome is guaranteed to bring about better FPS and less memory consumption. I should also point out that the current game menu and navigation could use a native support rather than a highly customizable .xaml UI panels. It is understood that the developers were very thoughtful and wanted to give us all the opportunity to fully customize the ingame UI but unfortunately that is done at the cost of performance.


I am GregStein, an experienced Age of Empires 2 player and part-time developer. With over 7 years of experience in multiplayer gaming, blogging and technical issues.

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2 years ago

before the last update GPU locked to screen in V-Sync 4k @ 120hz/fps always.

Since last update even the main menu only gets 60fps, 40fps soon as i start the game and as low as 10fps late game.

This is on a RTX 3080 i9 build, one of the fastest gaming PCs you can build.


The aoe game engine is a complete joke. The developers need to be fired for their incompetence. There’s clearly no accountability or management in Microsoft.

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