Getting Started With Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition

This guide is a combination of tips and a tour through all features of Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition. A lot of pictures and illustrations are enclosed to assist my short and concise explanations.

Feel free to expand the “guide contents” to hop into topics of your interest.

Civilizations & Campaigns

Civilizations – What’s New?

11 new civilizations are introduced into AOE 2 Definitive (all civs from AoE2 2013 (aka HD) including DLCs come with the base game):

  1. Bulgarians
  2. Cumans
  3. Lithuanians
  4. Tartars
  5. Burgundians
  6. Sicilians
  7. Bohemians
  8. Poles
  9. Bengalis
  10. Dravidians
  11. Gurjaras

Learn further in an in-depth guide about all age of empires 2 civilizations

4 New Civilizations

Campaigns – What’s New?

All 27 campaigns of age of empires 2 definitive
All 27 Campaigns of Age of Empires 2 Definitive

The game comes with 36 campaigns (11 new campaigns) and each campaign has several chapters spanning over 200 hours of gameplays and 1000 years of human history. You won’t need to take history classes anymore because of this..

history ingame learning

Or play the campaigns to learn the history course in an audio/visual approach. Well If I had a 13 years old son or daughter I would definitely get AoE2 Definitive for them.


Historical Battles

There is no doubt that most of us have loved Age of Empires 2 due to quality campaigns game-plays we enjoyed in our childhood. Now and even if you have finished all the campaign missions you can still get a taste of historical battles which are 16 battles in total.

Historical battles

I personally couldn’t be more satisfied with all these campaigns and historical battles. I’m definitely hoping into a few historical battles after writing this post.

Single Player – What’s New?

Major graphical changes have been made to Single Player supplemented with a few interesting additions. Let’s have a look..

Single player for AoE2 DE 2019

At the first sight, we notice that the single player structure remained the same except for the number of players which has been moved under the player spots – It’s so much better that way in a sense of visibility.

New Presentation for Maps

Locations or (Maps) have gotten better..

Locations and maps pool - AoE2 DE

There are 9 Game Modes so far:

  1. Random Maps
  2. Empire Wars
  3. Regicide
  4. King of the Hill
  5. Death Match
  6. Sudden Death
  7. Capture the Relic
  8. Defend the Wonder
  9. Wonder

And 4 Map Styles:

  1. Standard
  2. Real World
  3. Special Maps
  4. Custom

Yet another fantastic feature “Map Filtering”. To make use of this feature you must press the green button “Random” Under the red button “Single” to the right hand side.


Then for example let’s filter out only open maps and as you can see below all open maps are highlighted in yellow

map filterring aoe2de

Back to the Single Player main screen to have a look at a few more additions.

Extreme Difficulty

The AI can now play in “extreme” difficulty which is supposed to be more challenging than “hardest”

extreme difficulty AI

Infinite Resources

You can typically play casual or practice games without having to worry anymore about harvesting resources.

infinite resources

Team & Advanced Settings

Team Position
Puts players in each team in clockwize order of the map according to their color order.
Shared Exploration
You and your Allies can see each other without having to research Carto at the market.
Turbo Mode
Buildings & Units are created faster as well as resources gathering.

single player new features

Technology Tree

It looks better than never thanks to a complete remaster of units and their icons:

Technology Tree

Multiplayer – What’s New?

The multiplayer has gotten a complete overhaul and it’s amazing..

multiplayer first look

Already 6 sections which we will be going through one by one.

Ranked Queue

Starting with the Ranked Tab: It’s a ranked queue system where you are matched with random players at a click of a button. You can choose your civilization, map settings and match type/size (1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4).

After pressing “Find Match” you should be queued for a game..

ranked queue

..Pretty cool! isn’t it?

Lobby Browser (Unranked)

Most of you are familiar with the lobby browser. In AoE2 DE, this latter still works like the lobby browser of AoE2 2013 (a.k.a HD) except that all hosted games are unranked.

Lobby Browser

Have you noticed “Connection Quality” to the right hand side? That should keep you away from joining laggy regions which in this example are marked with a red square Southest Asia and Brazilsouth.

Also upon hosting your own lobby ensure the selection of servers accordingly to the green square. Let’s take a look at the brand new features for “Create Lobby”

Create Lobby


It looks gorgeous! We can notice 3 new features:

Hide Civilizations
Renders Civilizations hidden to all players until the game starts.
Spectator Delay
Set a delay time for spectators preventing any form of spec-cheating.
Choose your regional server. If not found then choose the closest one to your country. (Use Connection Quality table in the lobby browser to opt in to servers marked with the little green square)


Spectate Games

Inspired from Userpatch/Voobly, We can finally spectate or late spectate live games both ranked and unranked.

spectate games

How do we know if a game is ranked or unranked?

By simply looking at the spectator browser, games labelled “AUTOMATCH” are live ranked games. The rest are unranked.

How does the spectator mode look like?

Spectating Game 1v1

Near the player names drop down menu, a button – with red, blue and white flags – toggles all the stats of the game. Researches and Technologies are queued in the middle right hand side of the screen. Units queue line is displayed under the player resources on the top left.


In this section you can join/create a clan in a click of a button.

Join or Create a Clan


For so long… I have been looking forward to an inclusive leaderboard implemented into the game.. I guess my wish has been granted.

Leaderboard - Players ranking system

Notice how I am not ranked yet and that is because I have played 5 games only! We need to play 10 ranked games before entering the ranking system. In which it is divided into 4 sections:

  1. Random Map: (1v1)
  2. Team Random Map: (2v2 3v3 4v4)
  3. Death Match: (1v1)
  4. Team Death Match: (2v2 3v3 4v4)


The profile page is simple and most importantly keeps track of your progress such as highest ranking, games count, best civilization, etc. Let’s have a look

Profile page for AoE2 DE

Do not forget to change your profile icon as soon as your start playing games and making progress many of them should be available for you.

profile icon aoe2de


Get Good With The Art of War

the art of war aoe2de

It would not matter if you are a beginner or an average player because The Art of War takes you one step forward to learning Dark age economy management all the way to late game advanced stuff. If you have just moved from Starcraft 2 to Age of Empires 2 this is your free ticket to prowess.

Mods Workshop

Whether you play on Microsoft Store or Steam you can access Mods and install through the main menu:

mods workshop

or through the official website of Age of empires

Once you get into the Mods workshop you should see 3 tabs:

Installed Mods

In this tab you can either Unsubscribe (delete) or Disable mods

Installed mods

Browse Mods

In this section you can browse through or search any mods you desire. Besides you have the ability to filter mods by category and these categories are:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Campaigns
  • Data Mods
  • Graphics
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Random Maps
  • Scenarios
  • Sounds
  • Speech
  • Taunts
  • Terrain

browse mods workshop

My Mods

This section concerns mods creators where they can view and publish their local mods to the mod manager.

My mods for creators

Recommended Settings

Just installed AoE2 DE? Played HD or AoC before? – You certainly need to change your settings for a better feel of the game and reducing overwhelming graphical effects – Which can distract you during an intense gameply.

In your Menu, Find “Options” button

Options for AoE2 definitive

Interface Section

These are the changes you need to make..

Interface settings for AoE2 De


Sans Serif Font
Increases Font Size for Numbers from tiny to medium (visible to the eye)
In-game HUD Scale
Set to 110% (For better interface visibility)


Graphics Section

First Switch to Low Graphics Preset > Then Enable V-sync to limit the consumption of FPS (Very handy to prevent crashes, and leaves some resources for recording softwares to work with.)

However if Vsync is causing FPS issues with your modern monitor..  Just turn it off until the developers fix it as they have stated in this post

Graphics Settings for AoE2 DE

Game Section

Believe me.. Health Bars are annoying in this current patch and unresponsive. For example, when you hover or select a farmer you will see 2 health bars or more; (1) the farmer bar, (2) the farm bar and (3) the town center or any nearby buildings/resources bar.. Take a lot at this proof

health bars bugged in AoE2 DE
I Only Selected The Farmer But This Happened..


Don’t worry we can totally fix this behavior by switching Health bars to “Classic” as shown in the image below

Game Settings For AoE2 DE


Launch Commands

The commands below have been inherited from the conquerors version and can be added to AoE2 DE as follow:

AoE2 DE Commands

1- Skip intro videos:



2- Fix horizontal black lines or display issues:



3- Fix audio issues with SoundBlaster



4- Change To Normal Mouse Cursor:



5- Turns off Microsoft Strategic Commander controller



6- Turns off all terrain sounds:



7- Turns off all sounds except cinematics:


Are cheat codes still working in Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition?

Yes, all previous cheats from older versions are includes in addition to new one. Check out a complete table of cheat codes for Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition and more.

Final Thoughts

Age of Empires 2 Definitive has been a major success thanks to the Beta program – though I was not invited only a few days before release – But I’m very glad that the community has participated immensely for the stability of the game and so far I am very happy with everything except the fact that I can not pick only Arabia in Ranked Queue. Hopefully soon we can uncheck maps we don’t want to play.


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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