Which version of AoE2 should I play?
As of 2022, there are three mutually-incompatible versions of Age of Empires II:
- Age of Empires II : Definitive Edition, released in 2019 and available on Steam (Linux-friendly), on the Microsoft store (not Linux-friendly) and through the Xbox game pass (not Linux-friendly)
- Age of Empires II : HD Edition, released in 2013 and available on Steam (Linux-friendly)
- Age of Empires II : The Age of Kings / The Conquerors, released in 1999 and available on CD (Linux-friendly) through various resellers
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 your friends play an older version and you want to play with them, play their version.
- If your hardware can't run the Definitive Edition, and you can't aford upgrading, try an older version (keep in mind that if you've poor network connectivity, the Definitive Edition is better for online multiplayer).
- If you don't have Internet or want to make sure you'll be able to play forever, play The Age of Kings / The Conquerors, because latter versions require an Internet connection (and a server running somewhere at Microsoft).
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?
- Install Steam (the Linux version).
- Start Steam and log in.
- Open the “Steam” menu (1), then “Settings” (2).
- 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).
- Now, AoE2:DE should be available in your Steam library as it would be if you were on Windows. Install the game.
- 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.
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.
- Quit the game (it is important that you have at least started it once before the next step).
- Open a terminal.
- Execute the following commands (every single character is important, including the quotes).
cd "$(mktemp -d)"
cp ucrtbase.dll ~/.steam/steam/steamapps/compatdata/813780/pfx/drive_c/windows/system32
- 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.
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.
- Open a terminal.
- 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
- 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:
- AoE2 won't work better on Linux than on Windows. If you observe slightly better performance than on Windows, that's because the operating system itself, or other programs running on it (antivirus, bloatware, malware…) were interfering with the game.
- AoE2 won't work worse on Linux than on Windows. That being said, as the game is developed for Windows and not for Linux, you may have to apply some tweaks (discussed above) and possibly apply them again everytime there's an update.
- Linux-based operating systems and Windows are, well, different operating systems. Don't expect them to work exactly the same. If you already use Linux or want to switch to it, then you have the possibility to play AoE2 just fine on it — you don't need to use Windows. If you don't want to switch to Linux, then AoE2 alone is not a good reason to change your mind (there are, however, many valid reasons to want to switch to a Linux-based operating system, but that's off-topic).
All in all, I'd say: play on your operating system of choice; don't let anybody else chose your operating system for you.
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)