Resolve Issues

Crash to Desktop Fix for Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition

Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition is an amazing game loved by many, but unfortunately, in the last patches players often face two types of crashes to desktop: one that occurs in every game within or after 15 minutes, another that happens once in every ten games. These crashes can be frustrating, especially since they can lead to players getting banned from multiplayer for no apparent reason. In this article, we’ll explore all the possible solutions we’ve found to address these issues, which we’ve personally tested and confirmed to be effective.

We will list the fixes from the most common and successful to less common fixes. That being said, we recommend that you follow all of them in the order presented, as the order is dependent on the state of your game installation and system.


Disable Steam Cloud & Remove Intro Video

One of the most common reasons for the game to crash is due to your personal Steam cloud being 80% or more. When this occurs, the game starts to throw error messages and warning windows, and it may even crash. Disabling the Steam cloud for Age of Empires 2 and Cloud from Steam settings will prevent these errors from happening.

disable steam cloud for aoe2 de
Uncheck “Keep game saves in the Steam Cloud for Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition.”

To do this, go to Steam library > Properties > Uncheck “Keep game saves in the Steam Cloud for Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition.” Although Steam cloud is beneficial as it stores your hotkeys and save games, we recommend you to use it once to restore your hotkeys and settings, and then disable it immediately afterward.

The intro video raises a lot of suspensions for me especially when I try to record through OBS often the software fails to capture the gameplay and the game itself temporarily freezes for a few seconds before sending me to the main menu. So that is why you will see a vast majority of the community disabling the introduction video.

To remove the intro video, go to the default location (or wherever you installed AoE2 DE)  “C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\AoE2DE\resources\_common\movies” Then remove the video found in that particular location.

Disable all User Interface & Text Type Mods

The only categories of mods that seem to introduce visual issues in the last patches are “User Interface” and “Text” mods. One of the issues is the terrain suddenly turning into Lava or most of the UI icons turning black in the middle of the game or even a crash to desktop. To fix this, we recommend to take a break from non graphics mods until the developers resolve the problem.

unsubscribe and uninstall all User Interface mods
Unsubscribe and Uninstall all User Interface mods. Do the same for “Text” Mods.

Start by disabling all mods except the small trees that fall into static “Graphics” mods that change the game objects like units, buildings, villagers, trees, etc. These are called graphics mods and are 100% safe in a sense that they won’t crash your game.

To do this, access the mods center in-game by clicking the gear button > Mods. Then, inside the Installed Mods tab, unsubscribe and disable all mods except small trees.

At this point, go ahead and play a few games and see if any crashing arises. However, if you installed AoE2 DE before September 2022 and would like to remove all suspicions, we highly recommend that you carry on with the next fix, where we will do a proper clean install of the game.


Old Game Installation (Before September 2022)

If you installed the game before September 2022, the developers did a massive overhaul to game assets such as “.smx” types, which were swapped to “.sld”. Any remnants of old assets could trigger crashes if the game tries to open them. The sad part is that even if you do “Verify Game files integrity,” it may not solve the problem. Therefore, we recommend doing a complete and proper clean install of Age of Empires 2 Definite Edition.

learn to play section

I recently was unable to access “Learn to Play” section, the game just shuts down to desktop when I try I click the menu item from that section, even verifying the integrity of game files did not help!! It was shocking to me. So I did a complete and proper clean install of Age of Empires 2 Definite Edition.


Here are the steps to do a proper clean install:

  1. Go to your Steam Library, right-click “Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition” and uninstall it.
  2. Go to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common” or wherever the game was installed and delete the folder “\AoE2DE.”
  3. Using your keyboard, click Windows button + R and type in: %userprofile%\Games. Delete the folder “Age of Empires 2 DE.”
  4. Now go to Steam and download “Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition.”


Now that everything clean and fresh launch the game and only check small trees (it’s sad the game does not remember our mod settings which ones enabled or disabled). You must Restart the game to be sure the mods changes are applied.


Temporarily uninstall Your Antivirus/Malwarebytes

It is important to note that antivirus software can sometimes interfere with the smooth running of certain applications, and games like Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition are no exception. Disabling the antivirus software temporarily might not be sufficient, as most modern antivirus programs come with self-protection modules that may continue to interfere with the game. Therefore, it is recommended to temporarily uninstall your antivirus program to rule out any interference.

add aoe2 de to windows defender exceptions

For Windows Defender users, you can add the game folder “C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\AoE2DE” to the exception list by using the following command in Powershell:

  1. Run Powershell as administrator
  2. Type in:
(Change the game path if your game is installed else where)


Run Steam as administrator

run steam as administrator

Running Steam as an administrator can help grant Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition the necessary permissions to function without any restrictions. This step is especially helpful for those who are logged in as Windows Users without administrative privileges. Running Steam as an administrator is a last resort option but can often solve any permission-related issues.


Wifi & 3G/4G Stuttering

no failed packets

In multiplayer, if the game often freezes for a second or a few then reconnects, it is surely due to unstable internet connectivity, and this repeated behavior can eventually lead to a game crash. To check the stability of your internet ping, you can use a tool like

You should not receive any “fail” packets or huge ping spikes during the test. To improve stability, you could move your Wi-Fi adapter closer to the router or vice versa. However, using an ethernet cable is the best option to ensure the highest stability possible.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition is a great game, but like any other game, it may face some technical issues, such as crashes to desktop at least until the developers sort it out. In this article, we have listed six possible solutions to fix the crashes, starting with the most common and successful tips to the less common ones. We recommend following these steps in order, as it is a matter of game installation and system state, and not because the first tips are better than the others.

Firstly, disabling Steam cloud, all user interface and text type mods, and removing the intro video can help prevent crashes. If you installed the game before September 2022, doing a proper clean install of the game is highly encouraged. Temporarily uninstalling your antivirus/malware bytes and running Steam as an administrator can also help fix the problem.

Finally, if you experience stuttering in multiplayer, it is advisable to use an ethernet cable or get as close as possible to the router. By following these steps, you can enjoy playing Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition without facing any crashes to desktop issues at least until the developers resolve the issues.

Meet GregStein, a dedicated Age of Empires 2 fan and part-time developer. With years of experience in multiplayer gaming, GregStein has acquired a wealth of technical knowledge.

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