FAQ - General

We are committed to supporting our fans. As a way to help everyone, here is a FAQ that should give you a place to start if you are having technical problems. If you're experiencing an issue that's related to multiplayer, please see our multiplayer FAQ page.

If you don't find what you're looking for here we recommend that you visit the Microsoft Technical Support website.


General Information


Sound & Music


Miscellaneous Tech Questions

Common Game Questions


Unsupported Video Cards

General Information

Q. Is there going to be another patch? When will it be released?
Yes. As we finalize the contents of a new patch we will post them on the web site. Each new patch will be released when it is done. It is our policy to not state dates, since too many things can affect the release of a patch.

Q. What are some common Troubleshooting tips?
Computer games can function differently on different systems because of different software and hardware configurations. These steps should be taken before playing Age of Empires III to ensure that you are playing on a stable system.

  • Make sure your system supports the minimum requirements. You can find these on the box or at the Age of Empires III requirements page.
  • Make sure that your video card, sound card, and network card drivers, as well as router firmware are up to date. Visit your manufacturer's website for more information.
  • When you install the game be sure to turn off any anti-virus software, and make sure the game is not blocked by any security software while you are playing online.
  • Download and install the latest patch from the game updates pages for Age of Empires IIIorThe WarChiefs.
  • If you are installing the full version of the game make sure that you have uninstalled the demo first.
  • A clean boot can often resolve problems. (US MS support article)
  • For additional support please visit Microsoft Games Support.

Q. I crashed, what should I do?
First, send the report in when asked. If you continue to crash repeatedly when you try to play the game, try some of the general suggestions and or contact/visit Microsoft Games Support.

Q. I am having issues after patching?
We are asking that if you encounter a problem after patching, please run our file check utility and include the results in any emails or forum posts you make about your problem.

File Check Utility
This tool checks several key Age of Empires III files to verify they are the correct version.

1) Patch to the latest game version.
2) Save this file to your Desktop.
3) Launch the esage3filechecker.exe from your Desktop.
4) After the process is completed open the ESAge3Results.txt file (should also be placed on your Desktop)
5) Open this file to view results which could include any combination of the following results: Invalid (corrupt file), Invalid Version, Not Found, & Version Correct.
6) A successful installation should return all listed as Version Correct.

Q. How do I create a user.cfg file?
1. Using "windows explorer" browse to My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\Startup.
2. Click on Tools at the top of the window, and select Folder Options.
3. Click on the View tab.
4. In the Advanced Settings list, look for the line Hide extensions for known file types. If this is checked, uncheck it.
5. Click Apply at the bottom of the options window.
6. If you want to set this for all folders, click Apply to all folders.
7. Click OK.
8. Open Notepad.
9. As a test add nointrocinematics to the first line.
10. Click File => Save As…
11. In the save window, browse to My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\Startup.
12. File name = user.cfg, Save as type = All Files, click OK.
13. Back in Windows Explorer, verify the file exists, and then launch the game. If done correctly the opening movies should not play, instead you should load directly to the main game menu.

Q. Where can I find additional contact information?
The Contact page of the website has a list of additional contact emails.


Q. Is Windows 2000 supported?
Windows 2000 is not a supported operating system for Age of Empires III.

Q. I am encountering error code messages when I try to install, what should I do?
Below is a list of error codes as well as some information about each code. For additional assistance please visit Microsoft Games Support.

Generally means the user doesn't have enough temporary disk space to conduct the install. InstallShield (MSI actually as well are parts of IS) requires a significant amount of temp file space to do the install. It has to copy it's runtime to the temp directory, install the IS engine into the Program Files folder, then use temp space to extract files from the cabs. The user either has to free up space in their temp directory, or move the temp directory to a drive with more space.

This is a failure to install the IScript engine. See this Microsoft Technical Support page for details on a resolution: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/910816

Is an assembly error and may be coming from the msxml4 installation. The user can probably download the MSXML4 stand alone installer to get around it, or reboot and return the install. For more information on this error, please see this Microsoft Technical Support page: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/912072

1335 and 1305
These are file read errors. 1335 indicates a corrupt cab file and might be a bad disk or bad CD-Rom reader. The test is to try to copy the entire contents of the CD to the hard drive (xcopy is best). If it fails to copy you either have a bad drive or bad CD-Rom.

This is an error that results from trying to read from a file and may also be due to a corrupt cab file or other corrupted file on the CD, or a file that's copied to the temp directory that hits a flaky sector. If it's not the CD-Rom or the CD drive, then move the temp location. Related information from Microsoft Technical Support: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/873281

Q. I keep getting a msg MSXML 4.0 is not installed correctly, what should I do?
You will need to install MSXML. Please refer to this MS support article.

Q. How much free space will I need to patch Age of Empires 3?
You will need around 1.4 GB of free space to successfully patch the game.

Q. I am updating the game and it seems to freeze at 6%.
Wait a few minutes. It is updating large files so it may take awhile.

Q. I waited and nothing happened or I encountered an error?
There are a few things that may help out:

  • Make sure you have enough free space. The patch needs approximately 1.5 GB of free space to work with during the installation.
  • Defrag your hard disks before installing.
  • Undo any edits that have been made to any Age of Empires III game files in the installation folder; default C:\Program Files\Age of Empires 3\. Then restart the patch process.
  • Disable any applications running in the background such as; virus scanners, spyware stoppers, etc.
  • Make a backup before of the My Documents\My games\Age3 folder then delete it, and restart the patch process.
  • Try logging into Windows XP with a different Administrator account than the one you first tried. You may have to create a brand new administrator user.
  • Completely uninstall the game, remove all game folders from My Documents, then reboot your computer. Log in with an Administrator user, install the game and then launch and update.

Also these workarounds have helped some users:
1. Extract corrupted file (I.e. art1.bar, sound.bar, etc.) from the .cab files located on disks 1-3. Overwrite the file(s) in the corresponding directory in your game folder(s). Download the latest patch from AgeCommunity.com. Reboot computer and start in Safe Mode. Run the patch.
2. Install the game. Set read-write permissions on the Age of Empires III folder (and sub folders) to NOT read only. Run the patch through the game utility or manually.

Q. I encounter "Age of Empires III was not installed for allusers or the current user. Please log in with the correct account. This setup will exit." error, when installing WarChief's. What can I do?
1. Right-Click the Start button and select "Explore".
2. Navigate to the "All Users" directory, then "Start Menu", then "Programs".
3. Create a directory called "Microsoft Games".
4. In that directory, create another directory called "Age of Empires III".
5. Rerun the War Chiefs install program.

Q. Do I need to install the previous patches first, before the latest one?
No you do not. You should be able to patch up to the latest patch from a fresh installation, or from any previous version of the game.

Q. Just after patching I have started crashing or experience odd behavior.
Many times our patches will not play nice with current user created mods that users might have installed, resulting in odd behavior or crashing. We recommend removing any mods before patching the game.

Sound & Music

Q. I have both an onboard and a PCI sound card, and am having a problem.
If you have an onboard sound card and a second PCI sound card you should disable the on board sound card and run off the PCI card.

Q. The game says "Age of Empires III Error: The Fraunhofer IIS MPEG Layer-3 Codec (l3codecx.ax) cannot be found" Whats wrong?
The missing file is one that comes standard with Windows. It may have been deleted by the user, or possibly with the installation of a codec pack. Here is what you can do to restore the missing Fraunhofer codec (l3codecx.ax):

1. Insert your Windows XP disk.
2. Go to Start, Run.
3. Run: expand e:\i386\l3codecx.ax_ C:\Windows\system32\l3codecx.ax
4. Run: regsvr32 l3codecx.ax

Substituting the proper drive letter and system path.

Alternatively, you can copy the file from another machine (from the Windows\system32 directory) and then do step 4.

Q. My sound cuts out or is choppy.
A. Turning off hardware acceleration may help. You can do that by following these steps.

1. Click on Start, Run.
2. Type in DXDiag and hit Enter.
3. Select the Sound tab and turn the hardware acceleration slider all the way to the left.

Also check your hard drive for heavy fragmentation. Make sure that it is not fragmented by running defrag found in your system tools. This may take awhile but it will help sound and system performance.

Q. My sound cuts out and then my game crashed.
First update your game to the latest version.

If you continue to have problems you can try either, this:
1. Open Program Files and Microsoft Games folder.
2. Navigate the Age of Empires III folder to Sound and Music and then Standard.
3. Right Click on the LeisurelyBrows.mp3 and go to properties.
4. Toward the bottom of the menu uncheck the Read Only option and click on Apply and OK.
5. You can also delete the LeisurelyBrows.mp3 if that does not work.

Or you can try this:

1. Open your My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\Startup folder.
2. Create a user.cfg file.
3. Add the line +nosound or +nomusic to the file. Save and Exit.
4. Launch the game.
This will turn off the music or the sound depending on which one you have added. This is a temporary workaround and we looking into this issue. Certain sound codecs will also cause issues on some systems. Check your third party codecs.

Make sure that you have the latest video drivers and have DirectX9.0c installed before following these trouble shooting steps.

Q. I am getting Direct 3D or D3D Errors and Initialization Errors, my screen is all black, or I am getting a error about "refresh rates", what can I do?
A. You game may be running at an unsupported resolution and refresh rate.

First, make sure your monitor is running at a supported resolution and refresh rate. Try changing your desktop resolution to 1024 x 768 at 75 hertz.

1. Create or edit the file My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3.
2. Startup\user.cfg
3. On a new line add the word "window", without the quotes.
4. Restart the game

Second try this:
1. Identify your current working resolution and refresh rate (or one that you know works) through your Display Property settings (i.e. 1024 x 768, 60 Hz)
2. For vanilla Age of Empires III, open the following file for editing: My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\Users\NewProfile.xml.
3. Go to the resolution setting line (around line 30) that says this:
1024 x 768
4. Edit the resolution text to match the working resolution you identified earlier.
5. Go to the refresh rate setting line (around line 67) that says this:
6. Edit the refresh rate value to the working rate you identified earlier.
7. Restart the game

NOTE: Be very careful editing NewProfile.xml as it can be easy to put invalid text in many of these settings. If during this process you feel you may have messed up this file, you can delete it and it will regenerate to default settings.

For The WarChiefs you will need to edit \My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\Users2\NewProfile2.xml

Q. When I am starting my game I am getting an "Initialization Failure" error message.
A. Some extended driver software and third party software causing this problem. Look for two programs on your system. Refreshlock and Refreshforce are causing this problem. If you remove the software then it should fix this problem. You can also user the software to change your monitor Hertz to 75 and it should work. You may have to tweak the software and experiment.

Q. I am getting blocky smoke and/or units.
A. If you set your Shader options to low it will fix this problem.

1. Click on Help and Options and Select the Options tab.
2. Select the Graphic Options tab and set Shader Quality to Low.

Q. My game is crashing on startup and I think it is caused by the video.
A. Driver controlled Anti Aliasing will try and force the game into AA mode. This can cause the game to become unstable. Turn off anti-aliasing (or set it to application controlled) from the video driver control panel.

Q. I have an Nvidia SLI system and there is a green bar on my screen, what should I do?
1. Open the NVIDIA control panel.
2. Select the "SLI multi-GPU" tab.
3. Uncheck the "Show GPU load balancing" box.
4. Click "OK".

Miscellaneous Tech Questions

Q. Who is the leader of the ES clan?
Yamrak is the current leader; he's a Producer here at Ensemble Studios.

Q. How do I load a custom scenario in Multiplayer?
Currently you can not play custom scenarios in multiplayer. We are going to be adding this feature in an upcoming patch.

Q. Why can I only play Supremacy or Deathmatch games but not both?
You need to make sure you have selected a home city that matches this game type you want to play. Check the select Home city screen to select the Home city you want to play, or if you need to, create a new city to match the game type you want to play.

Q. Why can I not advance to the Imperial Age?
It depends on the type of game you are playing:
1. If you are playing the campaign, this age is not available in every scenario.
2. In Deathmatch Imperial age is not available, unless the game starts in, or after the age.
3. In Supremacy, players should either start in Imperial or be able to advance to it normally.

Q. How do I un-pause / resume a save game?
First install the latest patch. After you patch you should be able to resume a paused game by:

Pressing the Pause/break key on your keyboard. On most keyboards this is located near the "Scroll lock" and "Page Up" keys. Some keyboards require a multi key combination or function key to be pressed in order to gain the "Pause/Break" functionality; please refer to you keyboard or computer documentation.

Pressing the hotkey assigned to Pause/Resume. By default hotkey editor assigns F7 to this function but you can remap this if you like.

Clicking on the Cancel button on the "Game Paused" window.

Q. Can I use my ESO HC in single player? Can I use my Single player/ LAN homecity on ESO?
NO. Your Single player/LAN home cities are completely separate from your ESO Home Cities.

Q. How do I delete savegames?
You can not delete savegame files from within the game. To delete them:
1. Close Age of Empires III.
2. Manually browse to My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\savegame.
3. Select the file you want to delete and delete it.

Q. How do I watch recorded games?
1. Place the recorded game file in your My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\savegames folder.
2. Launch the game.
3. Select Help and Tools from the main menu.
4. Click on Recorded Games.
5. Select the file you want to watch and click load.

Q. How do I view screenshots?
1. Browse to your My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\screenshots folder.
2. Open the file you want to view in an application that can view .jpg files.

Q. How do you rotate the camera?
First turn on the "Rotate Camera" option on in the options, then in game you can rotate using either Ctrl+(Left or Right)arrow keys, or Shift+Mousewheel.

Q. How can I map the TAB key? How can I manually edit my hotkeys?
The reason we made TAB a reserved key is that it is used to cycle between the selected unit groups in the unit selection panel. Allowing it to be remapped would cause both the cycle and the new action to happen. That said, I'm sure there are a few people don't mind this (obviously if you had previously remapped the TAB key), so you'll be relieved to know there is still a way to work around this.

When you change a key's mapping, a new entry is added to the NewProfile.xml file (in MyDocuments\MyGames\Age of Empires 3\Users). You can modify this entry.

1. Go into the Hotkey Editor, change the function you want to an open key and click on OK.
2. Exit the game.
3. Edit NewProfile.xml.
4. Look at the bottom of the file and find the proper group under "KeyMapGroups".
5. Change the * to tab (* = whatever you temporarily mapped it to.)
6. Save and close the file
7. Run the game

It's a little more complex than before, but should get you back to the most of the keys you are used to.

Common Game Questions

Q. How do I chat to all players in a multiplayer game?
Start your chat message with a * and your message will be sent to all players.

Q. How do I repair my buildings?
Select the building and click on the repair button in the bottom right of the interface. Note this button may not be active if you do not have enough resources to repair, or if the building is under attack.

Q. How do card bonuses stack?
We apply all the percentages to the base rate not the modified rate.

If your gathering rate is 0.5 and you get a 15% bonus, it becomes 0.575. Easy enough.

However, if you get an additional 15% bonus, it does not affect 0.575, but it is calculated based on 0.5 and then added to the existing bonus. So getting three different 15% bonuses would increase gathering from 0.5 to 0.725 (0.075 added three times) rather than 0.760 (which is what you get if you keep multiplying the product by 15%).

The reasons we do this are a little arcane, but they allow you to apply both addition and multiplications to rates without worrying about the order of operations.

Q. Can two teammates send the same Team card?
Two teammates using the same Civ should are not able to send the same team card. But you can send both the team and non-team versions of a card, see above for how they stack.

Q. Can we play with three teams in a game?
No, at this time you can only play 2 team or Free for all games.

Q. How did you chose which civs make it into the game?
There is no simple formula to how we choose to include a civ. It's a mixture of:

Historical relevance
Fan expectations
Global prominence
Designer bias
Art time

We wanted to have the civs players expected, like the Spanish, but also to throw in some curve balls. The Ottomans and Germans were quite powerful during the time period and easily could have come to the New World with different leadership (as could a dozen other nations).

Performance Tips

Q. What are some general things I can do to improve performance?
A. There are several things you can do:

Defragment your hard drives.
Make sure you have the latest Windows updates.
Verify you have the latest Drivers for your hardware.
Verify you do not have any spyware or viruses.
Turn off other applications running in the background.
Adjust in game graphics settings.
Upgrade your hardware.

Q. I have an older video card and in large pop games my frame rate drops a bunch; is there anything I can do?
A. If you are experiencing lag that may be due to particles in explosions, first we suggest that you make sure you have the 'Particle Quality' set to 'Low' (found in Options -> Graphics Options). Also turn 'High-poly Models' off on that same page and make sure other graphics qualities are set to their lowest settings as well.

If it is still too choppy on your machine and you want to turn the particles off completely, you can. In your 'My Documents\My Games\Age of Empires 3\Startup' directory create a new file called user.cfg (or edit the existing one). You can do this by right clicking in the directory, selecting New -> Text Document, then renaming it to user.cfg. Then edit that file using Notepad, and add the following line:


Then restart the game and the particles should not appear. If they do, make sure the user.cfg file is not actually named user.cfg.txt. (This can happen if Windows is set to hide the file extensions).

Q. What are the multiplayer game size recommendations for performance?
A. The following guidelines are recommended for a good multiplayer experience:

8 Players - Greater or equal to a P4 3.2 GHz, 2 GB RAM, and Cable/DSL, LAN
6 Players - Greater or equal to a P4 2.8 GHz, 1 GB RAM, and Cable/DSL, LAN
4 Players - Greater or equal to a P4 2.2 GHz, 512 MB RAM, and Cable/DSL, LAN
2 Players - Greater or equal to a P4 1.4 GHz, 256 MB RAM minimum (512 MB RAM recommended), and 56 KBps modem

Q. Where can I get more information about performance tips?
A. For more performance information please you can visit The Age 3 performance tips page.

Unsupported Video Cards

This is a list of unsupported video cards. If you have one of these cards you may want to consider upgrading your system.

3D Labs Permedia 1
3DFX - All versions
ATI ES1000
Rage (all)
Radeon (original series)
Radeon 7000
Radeon 7000 IGP
Radeon 7200 (32 MB only)
Radeon 7500 (32 MB only)
Mobility Radeon 7000 IGP
Mobility Fire GL
Cirrus Logic - all versions
Matrox G100
Matrox G200
Matrox Millennium
Matrox Millennium II
Matrox Mystique
Geforce 2 (32 MB only)
nVidia Riva 128
nVidia Rica 128 zx
S3 Virge_VX
S3 Virge_MX/MV
S3 Virge_MX+
S3 Virge_MX
S3 Virge_GX2
S3 Virge_DX/GX
S3 Trio64V2_DX/GX
S3 Trio64UV+
S3 Aurora64V+
S3 Aurora128
S3 Savage 2000
Intel 945
Intel 945G:0x2773
Intel 945GM:0x27A3
Intel 915G:0x2583
Intel 915GM:0x2593
Intel 810 / 815
Intel 845
Intel 850
Intel 865
Intel i740