Since the launch of the first Age of Empires in October of 1997, the series has remained highly successful as it paved the way for the modern RTS genre. With the recent release of Age of Empires 3: Definitive Edition, fans of the classic civ builder have seen more and more great content added to this classic game as the years went by.

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Since the definitive edition dropped back in October of 2020, more factions have been added alongside some much-needed quality of life improvements and a lot of substantial bug fixes as the developers slowly squeezed this old-timer into more modern shoes. The modding community has also been extremely active with tons of fantastic and detailed mods that can add hours of new content to the game or overhaul it completely. Here are a few from the long list available on various modding forums that are worth checking out.

Updated On December 6th, 2021, by Matthew Mckeown

The Age of Empires series is vast and covers a number of different sagas in history over different platforms from PC to console and even mobile. Some were better than others, and Age of Empires 3 as an example, became beloved by the Community for its attempt at taking the series in a more modern direction.

Instead of swords, shields, and arrows, battles were waged with musket blasts and cannon fire as the battlefields of history became louder and the number of casualties sky-rocketed. Age of Empires 3 did a lot to keep the series fresh and it still stands up today, with Age of Empires 4 taking things back to its medieval roots, it's worth checking back on this classic and giving it a fresh lick of paint with some fun mods. Here are a few more of the most popular Age of Empire 3 Definitive Edition mods out now.

20 Unlimited Units And Improved Ground Corpses

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Passing Unit Cap Using Mods

Population limits in RTS games can be an annoyance at times. Although they are used to encourage you to think tactically about the types of units you build and how you use them, there's still a sweet satisfaction to be had from just Zerg Rushing the enemy with thousands of soldiers.

For those that enjoy a mass attack, this mod by Luissey is what you need. It converts the normal population cost of a unit to 0, and with the cap never being reached you basically have an unlimited number of soldiers to throw into the fray. The mod also increases the decay time on corpses from 300 seconds to five minutes to let you survey the carnage of massive battles a little longer or use it as a warning to others.

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19 Hoop Throwers

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Hoop Thrower Units Unlocked Through Mods

Age of Empires 3 mods don’t have to be overly complicated or groundbreaking to make them great as this simple mod by Gugovscoccoclegenxp shows. This unique add-on gives you access to the Hoop Thrower units. These sturdy chaps are already in the game, but they’re only available during the first act of the campaign for the Knights Of St. John and what makes them special is that the Hoop Throwers are a heavy infantry unit that tosses burning rings at targets, melting through the skin of soldiers and setting structures ablaze with a few throws.

They’re trained in the Artillery Foundry and oddly, and a weird thing in the game is that they’re classed as a siege unit because of how effective they are against buildings. They have 290 hit points when given a Corselet, they have a 20 percent resistance against melee and they only cost 100 food and 50 gold to make, so they’re strong and cheap. It makes them a bit broken for the rest of the game, so it makes sense why they’re a campaign exclusive, but if you want more of these molten ring-throwing boys then just use this mod.

18 Realistic And Improved Sounds

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Ship To Ship Battle With Realistic Sounds

Age Of Empires 3 has been around for a while and the Definitive Edition modernizes it quite a bit, but some of the effects, such as gunfire and explosions, can sound a little underwhelming and stilted. But, with a few mods on the AOE Nexus you can turn every canon blast into an ear-splitting roar for that nice touch of immersion.

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For example, this mod by Fenriz94 improves weapons, as well as factory sounds to make it seem like your centers of industry have a little weight and noise behind them, like a real warehouse full of machinery. Alongside that, there are also changes to the sounds made by animals and resource collecting to make things a bit more immersive.

17 Remove AI Handicap

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Player Base Under Construction

On its surface Age of Empires 3 can seem like a relatively simple RTS, but it has a lot of interesting depth. For example, the AI on each difficulty is given a hidden hindrance or benefit, depending on what the difficulty level is.

What this means is, on Easy, the AI has a -70% resource gathering rate which slows down their ability to produce units quite drastically. Whilst on Extreme, this changes to +40%, and in gameplay terms, this results in the AI steamrolling players every single time and each match typically descends into fighting wave after wave of mass-produced units. So to make things more interesting and to remove that constant horde this mod by ZapinZones sets the handicap to 0 for all levels. This means you will then just be facing the AI itself without any buffs which can lead to more interesting fights.

16 Conquest New World

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Friendly Base Receiving Resources From Home

Despite it being abandoned in Age Of Empires 4, the Home City mechanic from AOE 3 was unique and added some interesting bonuses for using it effectively. Their whole idea was that you could earn XP by completing campaign missions and multiplayer games, then it would be used to level up your city and earn in-game bonuses by upgrading structures and using an obtuse deck-building system.

It sadly went unused by many, but with Aoe 3 mods such as Conquest New World by francot514, they take on a whole new use in their own game mode. Conquest New World provides a persistent game world filled with missions that reward experience that’s then used to upgrade your home city. It can be played solo or with friends and you can even visit ally cities or attack enemy homes at will. There are multiple home cities to choose from, so this open-world approach to Age Of Empires will keep you occupied for hours.

15 Tri-Corn Hats For Veteran Musketeers

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Tricorn Hats On Veteran Musketeer Unit Model

One thing that's incredibly important to the Age of Empires Community is historical accuracy. Whilst the definitive edition does its best to stay within the field of realism while still being entertaining, there are still times where certain units' outfits just don't sit well design-wise.

A prime example is the Veteran Musketeers of the British Empire. These rifle-carrying lads have these big stovepipe hats that can look a little silly, and as the game progresses through the centuries, they start to become historically inaccurate as the dress of soldiers of the time actually changed as the years went on. With this mod by Largo1900, players can swap the Stovepipes for a more modern (for the era) Red Coat Tricorn Hat to make them look significantly intimidating and accurate to the period.

14 Build Limits

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Player Starting Base With Build Limits Removed

This one is a little more self-explanatory. In Age of Empires III, you can only have a certain amount of specific buildings and units. It's designed this way to make base planning and army layout more strategic and less about putting out as many structures and soldiers as possible.

For example, the Outposts, Forts, Large Ships, Blockhouses, and Towers are all limited to a low number because they are incredibly powerful defensive structures, and having too many of them can affect the balance of the game. But, if you're looking for just some dumb broken build fun or if you want to make an impenetrable fortress, then the Build Limits mod by Quirkysorous that removes build limits is sure to create all sorts of chaos.

13 Rising Sun

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Asian Faction Base

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition already has quite a lot of civilizations in it, including Asia but it can never hurt to add more. With the Rising Sun mod by iBram you can take on the role of leading an early Japan to victory during a particularly brutal and bloody era.

Developed before the Asian Dynasty DLC launched, it’s an interesting addition to the long list of available Aoe3 mods and it’s more than just a cheap reskin. The Japanese civilization has been given its own unique voice acting for units, new models for existing soldiers and buildings, as well as a diplomacy mechanic. Also, instead of wood, Bamboo is collected in Bamboo Factories and most of this faction's mechanics and upgrades are based on how you can manage this unique economy. It’s an interesting add-on that’s been positively received in the AOE Modding Community for how well it's made, so if you’re looking for a new civilization to try, then check out this mod.

12 Napoleonic Era

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Swiss Civilisation Camp Under Attack

The Definitive Edition already has a ton of content in it, with new factions like the United States being the most recent civilization to join the team. But for those looking to bulk out their game even more the Napoleonic Era mod by TilanusCommodor might be worth a look.

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This massive add-on expands Age Of Empires III even further than the developers already have by including seven new civilizations, two reworks of existing factions, 20 maps, new natives, and improvements to the AI and other unique features. If you're looking for something that packs out the game then this is definitely one to download.

11 Extreme Fortifications

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Fortress Walls In Game Through Modding

One of the biggest letdowns of Age Of Empires 3 was the walls. In previous games, you could create massive labyrinths or impenetrable fortresses with gigantic towering fortifications that easily kept invaders at bay, but instead we got wooden palisades that can easily be blasted apart. However, in certain campaign missions, you have access to large stone fortification walls which come with some pretty beefy hitpoints to keep out any marauding army.

They’re normally only accessible through the level editor, but with Aoe 3 mods such as Extreme Fortifications by Lord_KiLLMS, you can build these giant structures whenever you like and there are different designs for them depending on the civilization you choose. So if you want to turtle hard or add a little flair to your outpost, then it’s always worth having this installed as it's possibly one of the best Age of Empires 3 definitive edition mods out there.

10 Age of Empires 3 Unleashed

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Massive Musketeer Battle Made Possible Through Unleashed Mod

Age of Empires III is a great game, but it's a little dated and it does come with a lot of restrictions, although this is mostly down to keeping units balanced and making sure the game is stable enough to run smoothly it can feel limiting if you're used to more modern strategy games. But, there are ways to fix this as the AOE Unleashed Mod by RomRom Rya might be just what you need.

This free download not only sets a higher limit on buildings, it heavily extends the population cap, modernizes the graphics and sounds, and provides some general quality of life improvements. It brings the game into the modern age and it's a great way to keep the game alive and fresh for new and veteran Age Of Empires players alike.

9 Resource Boost

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Turkey Resource Gather Amount Boosted Through Mod

Generally, the first and longest part of any session in an Age of Empires game is spent slowly collecting resources and it can lead to a lot of boredom and tedious gameplay as you wait around for more wood, gold, or food to trickle in.

But, for those that want to add a little pep in their step out of the gate in any skirmish or mission, then the Resource Boost mod by Quirkysorous is worth downloading. With this add-on, all wood, food, and gold resources are set to 5,000, so they last considerably longer, this also includes any shipping crates you bring in with you through the Card System. It's a nice boost to get you going and takes a lot of the worry of resource management off so you can focus on building big armies or a super-sized base.

8 WASD Camera Unlock

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: WASD Camera Control On Keyboard

Most modern RTS games let players zip the camera around with WASD on the keyboard and it's what we're all used to because of how comfortable, easy and streamlined it is compared to the old arrow key system. But, Age of Empires 3--like most early RTS games —uses this old system with WASD bound to a hotkey system.

This classic control style can be a little jarring if you're used to modern RTS games, and it can seem a little awkward to work your hands around that end of the keyboard. With this camera mod developed by modder Eaglemut OP, you can rebind those pesky camera controls by unlocking the ability to assign screen movement to WASD instead of the arrows. However, make sure that pressing those keys doesn't execute their previous hotkey assignment by deleting those inputs.

7 Improved Defensive Buildings

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: Swiss Base Under Attack

Arguably one of the most helpful Aoe3 mods, Improved Defensive Buildings by CmndrJ does exactly what it says on the tin, it improves the stats of your structures that keep your base nice and safe. Considering how often your home can be razed in minutes when you’re not expecting it, this add-on is one you might want to check out.

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In the base game, you can keep your towns guarded against wandering marauders with Forts, Blockhouses, Castles, and Nobles Huts. Whilst these heavy fortifications can keep most smaller forces at bay, over time and with enough units their cannons can be easily overwhelmed. This mod gives them a nice beefy stat bump of 20 percent extra damage, further line of sight and range as well as a faster build speed on specific structures, such as the Mighty War Huts. So whether you’re turtling or looking to keep your home secure whilst you’re out exploring, use this mod to ensure your citizens are kept safe.

6 Wars Of Middle Earth

Age Of Empires 3 Definitive Edition: War Of Middle Earth Mod Starting Screen

It seems to be a theme with RTS games, whatever the franchise, that there's going to be a Lord of The Rings mod for it in some shape or form. Warcraft 3 had it, Starcraft 2 still has regularly created ones featuring the entire cinematic universe, and for Age of Empires 3, one creative person is making their own version.

Made by modder Checanos, this surprisingly detailed addon has been in the works since 2013 and it uses the game's Asian Dynasties expansion to create the various realms and unique races of Tolkien's fantasy world. Although recent updates for the mod have gone a little quiet, if you want to take control of Rohan whilst fending off Goblins or the Orcs of Isengard then check this out.

5 War Of The Triple Alliance

Age Of Empires 3: New Haitian Cityscape Created By Modder's

The roster of factions in Age of Empires 3 Definitive Edition is already pretty large as mentioned already, but it can always be bigger. That’s where War of The Triple Alliance comes in. This mod by DayoftheNinja and a team of volunteers adds a bunch of great new factions to try out, with their most recent bringing early Haiti into the mix.

Plus, it’s more than just a fancy reskin as the Haitians have their own unique buildings, special units that come with their game-changing skills and bonuses as well as voice acting that’s been recorded by other members of the team. It’s a pretty dense and in-depth mod that brings a lot of new life to the old classic and unlike other AOE 3 mods that often end up abandoned, this is regularly updated. With previous editions detailed within the mod installer page, you can check its progress since it was first created or to get up to speed in all the new stuff that’s been added to the game.

4 The Forgotten Empires

Age Of Empires 3: Railway Company Faction Base Added To Game By Mod

The Age of Empires series hasn’t always been the most historically accurate (Until AOE4) and there were often a lot of Civilisations and Empires that went overlooked. There are a number of Empires both grand and small that existed in pre-history and the Forgotten Empires mod brings some of them back, whilst also taking a few creative liberties.

This mod by Meister_Wolo has a lot of work gone into it and it definitely shows. The factions are unique, creative and they all have their own unique bonuses, art styles, and mechanics that encourage you to experiment. For example, you could dominate the trade routes with the Railway Company, use the artillery forces of the pirates to make an impregnable fort, or steamroll everyone with the new strong Italian units. There’s a lot to play with, so if you want to keep expanding your AOE 3 roster substantially more, this is worth checking out.

3 Multi-Explorer

Age Of Empires 3: Modified Explorer Unit Building Friendly Fort

Explorers in AOE 3 were always a mixed bag, on the one hand, they’re great for recon and assassinating spies or important units, but in a big melee, they’re usually going to get sliced apart pretty quickly, especially to late tier units. They’re a Hero unit that’s great for the early game but as you go on unless you’re constantly micro-managing them, they’ll often end up dead or redundant.

But one creative modder saw this and thought, what if now the Explorer becomes a much bigger threat to deal with. Multi-Explorer by uPaw lets this brave musket-wielding pioneer collect resources, build Forts, and more importantly, train units. So now you can sneak them into enemy territory and if you have the resources, pump out a guerrilla army en masse and strike when it’s least expected or dump down big Forts and hidden outposts. It’s a great way to turn an often unused unit into a stealthy nightmare.

2 Age Of Empires 3 Improvement Patch

Age Of Empires 3: Victory Achieved By Zerg Rushing Infantry After Mod Removed Unit Cap

Though it’s something most fans won’t admit, Age of Empires 3 is an old game. The Definitive Edition does its best to patch up the rusty holes, but it has some clunk after all of that mileage and without mods, it badly needs some additional modernization. Until then there are mods like the AOE 3 Improvement Patch by TheCannibalPizza which is something a lot of veteran Age of Empires players definitely want to check out.

Not only does it add unlimited population caps, outposts, ships, and town centers now have no limits, so you can build up a gigantic capital that’s thriving with people. Limits on the number of gatherers at resource nodes were also lifted and the Card system, a weird new feature for the series that got removed in later games, has been given a little tweaking to make it more useful, especially in the early game resource rush.

1 Wars of Liberty

Age Of Empires 3: Māori Civilisation On Traditional Boats

There are a lot of Age of Empires 3 Civilisation mods, with some being better than others. Whilst most add one or two factions, occasionally you’ll find something like the Wars of Liberty mod by the Wars of Liberty Team which adds a huge new toybox of content to play around with. This expansive mod brings all sorts of new factions, hotfixes, and technology of the era such as Steamships and cannon-bearing ironclads that can now patrol the seas.

It’s regularly updated with their recent addition, the Māori, proving to be particularly popular as it really showcases the sheer amount of variety they’re putting into the new civilizations. This new faction has unique buildings and an aging-up system based on how far they voyage across the seas to other lands as well as a scaling damage bonus on kills that can help them snowball easily. It’s a nice touch that shows they put a lot of thought into bringing in new interesting factions instead of just packing out the roster with palette swaps. You can even fight on the moon, mess around with diplomacy in multiplayer, or take part in custom scenarios involving Italy's greatest freedom fighters, or clear out the last remnants of the old order in 1860’s Japan.

NEXT: Everything New And Changed In Age Of Empires 3: Definitive Edition

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