AoE2 on Linux

Disclaimer: the length of the page may give the impression that this is going to be difficult. It really isn't. Keep on reading :)

Which version of AoE2 should I play?

As of 2022, there are three mutually-incompatible versions of Age of Empires II:

There's very little debate about which version is the best, and they all run on Linux equally well, so let's get straight to the answer: play the Definitive Edition and get it on Steam.

There are some fair points to be made about playing an older version, though:

If none of these is particularly important to you, again: play the Definitive Edition and get it on Steam (NB: you'll be able to play with your friends who got it on the Microsoft Store or through the Xbox game pass, don't worry).

How do I play Age of Empires II : Definitive Edition on Linux?

Single player

  1. Install Steam (the Linux version).
  2. Start Steam and log in.
  3. Open the “Steam” menu (1), then “Settings” (2).
  4. Go to the “Steam Play” section (1) and check the “Enable Steam Play for all other titles” box (2). You can leave the “Run other titles with” dropdown list (3) to its default value (the latest hopefully the better — Proton 6.3-8 is fine).
  5. Now, AoE2:DE should be available in your Steam library as it would be if you were on Windows. Install the game.
  6. Start the game.

At this point, the game should work fine in single player mode. If you want to play online multiplayer, however, keep on reading.

Online multiplayer

Ignoring what follows won't prevent you from enjoying single player mode, but you'll encounter synchronization issues after a few seconds of playing online.

  1. Quit the game (it is important that you have at least started it once before the next step).
  2. Open a terminal.
  3. Execute the following commands (every single character is important, including the quotes).
    • cd "$(mktemp -d)"
    • wget "https://download.microsoft.com/download/9/3/F/93FCF1E7-E6A4-478B-96E7-D4B285925B00/vc_redist.x64.exe"
    • cabextract vc_redist.x64.exe
    • cabextract a10
    • cp ucrtbase.dll ~/.steam/steam/steamapps/compatdata/813780/pfx/drive_c/windows/system32
  4. Start the game again.

At this point, the game should work fine in online multiplayer as well. Once in the game, you shouldn't see any difference compared to when playing on Windows.

Troubleshooting

The game disapears after the splash screen on a Nvidia Optimus laptop

Nvidia Optimus laptops have two GPUs: one Intel iGPU within the CPU and one Nvidia dGPU in a graphics card. The iGPU is power-efficient and prefered for light tasks (like web browsing) whereas the dGPU is powerful and prefered for heavy tasks (like gaming).

With some combinations of AoE2:DE and Proton, there's a known bug which causes Proton to use an Intel Vulkan ICD on the Nvidia dGPU, which obviously can't work.

The only reliable workaround I'm aware of unfortunately prevents you from using the Intel Vulkan ICD. But, well… it works.

  1. Open a terminal.
  2. Execute the following command.
    • sudo mv /usr/share/vulkan/icd.d/intel_icd.x86_64.json /usr/share/vulkan/icd.d/intel_icd.x86_64.json.disabled
  3. Start the game again.

At this point, the game should work fine… until a driver update restores the Intel Vulkan ICD (at which point you just have to run the same command again).

How do I play Age of Empires II : HD Edition on Linux?

Follow the instructions for Age of Empires II : Definitive Edition, and it should work pretty much the same, I think.

How do I play Age of Empires II : The Age of Kings / The Conquerors on Linux?

Sorry, I haven't written this section yet. It works, though.

How do I use CaptureAge on Linux?

CaptureAge is a very powerful tool to watch saved gamed with an overlay of information.

Unfortunately, as far as I know, nobody has been able to use it on Linux. With little effort, one can start it, connect to the game and start replaying a saved game, but it won't show in the custom overlay.

Should I play on Linux?

That's an interesting question. I assumed you already had an opinion on this, but if you don't, here are some thoughts:

All in all, I'd say: play on your operating system of choice; don't let anybody else chose your operating system for you.

Acknowledgements

There's a very long list of people to thank for being able to play AoE2 on Linux. Of course, this would not have been possible without the efforts behind the Wine project since 1993 and behind the DXVK and Proton projects since 2017. But individuals from the AoE2 on Linux community have been helping a lot as well, through Wine's AppDB, ProtonDB, GitHub, Reddit, Discord…

Everything described on this page is the result of many people tireless attempts at making the game work on Linux and their willingness to share their discoveries with everybody.

Thanks everyone, GL HF!

Last update on 2022-06-30 (DoI 63482)