Playing Online

Article written by Aro
Published on 03-13-2017; updated on 03-14-2017
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Like any real-time strategy game, Age of Empires II is best experienced online. Due to the lack of an official matchmaking service, however, several additional configurations to your game and your connection are necessary before you can play online. If you intend to play against public (anonymous) opponents, you will need, at a minimum, patch 1.0c, a multiplayer client, and an internet connection which allows AoK data traffic. Alternatively, you can purchase the game on Steam.

The information below pertains specifically to The Conquerors Expansion, although everything besides the patch information is relevant to Age of Kings as well.

Contents

  1. Latest Patch
    1. 1.1 Version 1.0c
    2. 1.2 The Userpatch
  2. Public Matchmaking Clients
    1. 2.1 Voobly
    2. 2.2 GameRanger
    3. 2.3 Steam
  3. Alternative Matchmaking Options
    1. 3.1 IP Address
    2. 3.2 LAN
    3. 3.3 Hamachi
  4. Router Troubleshooting
    1. 4.1 Port Forwarding
    2. 4.2 DMZ

Latest Patch

For obvious reasons of compatibility, all players in a game must be using the same version of AoK. This means a game where some players are using version 1.0 and other players are using version 1.0c cannot be launched. However, with Voobly, it doesn't matter what version you use: they're all converted into the same "Voobly patch" based on 1.0e. On GameRanger, you'll find mostly 1.0c games, but also plenty of games using version 1.0.

Patches for versions 1.0a, 1.0b, 1.0d (unofficial) and 1.0e (unofficial) have been released in the past, although their current availability is scarce and none of them is being used online anymore.

Version 1.0c

The latest patch for AoK officially released by Ensemble Studios is version 1.0c, which fixes various bugs from version 1.0b. These changes are undocumented, and the Readme included with the patch is from version 1.0b.

We recommend using version 1.0c if you intend to play against familiar opponents using IP, LAN, Hamachi, and Voobly.

Download version 1.0c in your correct language (from the AoKH blacksmith).

The Userpatch

An unofficial patch for Age of Kings, the Userpatch fixes an incredible amount of bugs and enhances the game in many ways, such as widescreen support, a colour fix for Windows 7 and newer, to just name a few. Having been developed for over 3 years, it greatly increases the stability of AoK, both in single- and multiplayer. Especially if you intend to play against new AIs that require the Userpatch, then you should download it and use it for multiplayer.

Furthermore, the Userpatch can also be used to open the required ports automatically, which will be helpful incase any problems with ports are encountered.

On Voobly, you can select between using Userpatch 1.4 (recommended) and the old 1.0c version. No further work is required, the client will automatically update your game. On GameRanger, each player will have to manually download and install the desired Userpatch version. Everyone in the room needs the same game version to play, but due to easy and quick un-/installing, it is no problem to switch between 1.0c and the Userpatch.

Public Matchmaking Clients

After Microsoft terminated support for AoK on its MSN Zone in June 2006, Ensemble Studios declared GameSpy to be the official multiplayer service provider for AoK. The cumbersome layout of GameSpy Arcade, however, alienated many players. The fragmented community then attempted several separate projects to build a better multiplayer client. Voobly (formerly IGZones), GameRanger, and Gamepark are the three clients that have emerged as a result, although Gamepark is no longer in use. Since 04/2013, multiplayer gaming is also possible via Steam, where AoK was re-released as Age of Empires II HD.

Voobly

Voobly used to be the most popular client for playing AoK online. Virtually all the features from the MSN Zone client such as ratings and friend lists are included. The interface is also very similar so transitional players should feel very comfortable with it. Additional features include clan management systems, easy reentry to launched games, and automatic cheat detection.

To play AoK on Voobly:

  1. Register an account.
  2. Download the latest client (available from a link on the top-right side of the page after you log in).
  3. Install the client and then run it.
  4. Find some opponents and enjoy some games.

GameRanger

GameRanger is currently the only client that provides support for Macs, but has recently opened their client to PC users as well. It's an excellent alternative to the fast-paced style of Voobly, which makes it a more comfortable setting for new players.

To play AoK on GameRanger:

  1. Download the latest client (available from the large blue link on the main page).
  2. Install the client and then run it.
  3. Register an account.
  4. Find some opponents and enjoy some games.

Steam

Steam is probably the youngest option to play Age of Kings online. The game was only recently (April 2013) re-released as Age of Empires II HD with HD support and several other enhancements. This comes with several advantages as well as disadvantages. First off, this game is not exactly the same as the CD version, so in order to play online, you will first have to purchase it through Steam. As for the advantages for online gaming, the built-in lobby system provides a quick and easy way to set up multiplayer games. On the other hand, the HD version is incompatible with the original CD version and you will also be unable to make use of the Userpatch.

The Steam-exclusive expansion "The Forgotten" expands the game with some additional features, such as 5 new civilisations and even larger maps than Giant.

Alternative Matchmaking Options

If you don't want to play with strangers online and just want to battle against a few friends, there are several easier options to set up a game.

IP Address

An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is a unique identifier associated with your computer. If your friends know your IP address, they can connect to the games you host. Players behind routers who have problems connecting by IP should consult the troubleshooting section.

To host an AoK game by IP:

  1. Run Age of Empires II.
  2. On the main screen, click the red "Multiplayer" shield.
  3. Select "Internet TCP/IP Connection for DirectPlay" from the list box on the right.
  4. Press the "Create" button.
  5. Inform your friends of your IP address (If you are behind a router, AoK can only retrieve your private IP address, in the form of 192.168.x.x. To determine your usable public IP address, check whatismyip.org).

To join an AoK game by IP:

  1. Run Age of Empires II.
  2. On the main screen, click the red "Multiplayer" shield.
  3. Select "Internet TCP/IP Connection for DirectPlay" from the list box on the right.
  4. Press the "Show Games" button.
  5. Type in the host's IP address and press "OK."
  6. Select the game that should now appear.

LAN

A local area network (LAN) usually consists of several computers behind a router. Because LANs bypass connecting to the Internet, games typically run much faster with less latency or "lag" during the connection. There is also no need to forward any ports. A LAN is the ideal way to play AoK among a family with multiple computers.

To host or join an AoK game by LAN:

  1. Run Age of Empires II.
  2. On the main screen, click the red "Multiplayer" shield.
  3. Select "Local (LAN) TCP/IP Connection" from the list box on the right.
  4. Press "Create" to host a game or "Join" to join a game. Any available games should appear automatically for all computers inside the LAN.

Hamachi

Hamachi is an application that creates a virtual private network, allowing users to enjoy the benefits of a LAN connection without being physically close to one another. We recommend using Hamachi if you only intend to play against a small group of players.

Download Hamachi (from LogMeIn)

To play AoK with Hamachi:

  1. Install and run the Hamachi application.
  2. Make sure you are online (the power button should be green).
  3. Press the round button with the triangle icon to create or join a network.
  4. Now, set up the game as you would any other LAN game (instructions above).

Router Troubleshooting

If your computer is behind a router, you may need to configure a few additional settings before you can play online. The following information assumes you have already configured your software firewall to allow AoK data to be transferred freely.

Port Forwarding

PC: The following ports need to be open in order to play AoK online via PC:

  • 28800-29100 (TCP)
  • 2300-2400 (TCP)
  • 2300-2400 (UDP)
  • 47624 (TCP)

If your router requires trigger ports, allow these ports instead:

  • 28800 (UDP) as a trigger port for 2300-2400, 47624 (TCP)
  • 28800 (UDP) as a trigger port for 2300-2400, 47624 (UDP)
  • 47624 (TCP) as a trigger port for 2300-2400 (TCP)
  • 47624 (TCP) as a trigger port for 2300-2400 (UDP)
  • 6667 (TCP) as a trigger port for 28800-29100 (TCP)

MAC: The following ports need to be open in order to play AoK online via Mac:

  • 23978 (TCP)
  • 2300-2400 (UDP)

Consult PortForward.com for step-by-step instructions for individual router models.

DMZ

A demilitarized zone (DMZ) allows unobstructed connections to the Internet. Placing your computer in a DMZ should guarantee a successful connection for playing AoK online. However, because hosts in the DMZ effectively bypass any security offered by the router, this option should be considered only as a last resort when all other configurations fail.