How to play Age of Empires II on Windows Vista and Windows 7

I love Age of Empires II. I love all real-time strategy games, but Age of Empires II must be among the finest I’ve ever played, especially as a multiplayer game.

Unfortunately, getting Age of Empires to work in this modern day is a bit of a pain. The game was built on network technology known as IPX that has since gone the way of the dinosaurs. So far gone, in fact, that Microsoft decided not to include it in Vista and Windows 7. All of my computers are using Windows 7 now, so getting the game to play over LAN proved to be difficult.

I didn’t want to deal with trying to hodge-podge together an IPX installation, so I decided to look for ways for the TCP/IP method of gameplay to work. This method rarely worked for me, and when it did it only worked on some computers and not others.

Apparently, all I needed to do was assign all the computers that were playing in the game to have static IP addresses. If you don’t know what that is, there’s a link to a guide at the bottom of this article. Set static IPs on every computer that will be playing, not just the host.

Then, on the computer hosting, select Internet TCP/IP Connection for DirectPlay and NOT the LAN option. For some reason, selecting the LAN option caused issues. However, all the computers that will be joining can just select the LAN option.

Assuming there are no firewall issues, you should be good to go. I tested this with Windows 7 only machines, and only over LAN. If anyone has tried this as described and couldn’t get it to work, I’d like to hear from you.

Have fun playing!

Here’s a wonderful guide from PortForward.com on setting up a static IP.

  • http://www.simonsarris.com simonsarris

    test

  • http://www.simonsarris.com simonsarris

    test 3

  • Bob

    Ma n, I have another problem. When I play the story, the close by itself. So, what can I do?

    • http://www.simonsarris.com simonsarris

      Hmm, it is possible that it closes because it's trying to write to a file that it does not have permission to?

      Try right clicking the icon for Age of Empires and clicking “Run as Administrator.”

      Does that work?

  • bensmith

    What kind of hub or router were you using when you did this?

    • http://www.simonsarris.com simonsarris

      I've done it on a Linksys WRT54G and Linksys WRT610N. Note that I used to have a Dlink Dl-524 and it did NOT work on that, for some bizarre reason that I forget…

    • bensmith

      interesting. I did some packet sniffing on my WRT160N and found that when you begin looking for games, you broadcast to all computers on the network. But the software uses an old broadcasting that doesn't get past the router.
      I had one computer that hosted a game and one that tried to join and neither one could see packets broadcasted by the game to all computers on the network. My router would stop them. It seemed the game thought my router was the only ip on the network since it was the only direct link. The game works fine when I connect the computers directly with an ethernet cable. Any ideas on how to get it working on the network?

      • Darrelaubrey

         whats your email? i would like to talk to you more about this issue.

    • http://www.simonsarris.com simonsarris

      Just for kicks, kill your windows firewall, then go into the router and kill SPI and the other firewall-related features and see what happens.

      • bensmith

        lol well I musta been tired last night when I was doing this. The packets WERE being forwarded, but the host reply went to the wrong ip address. Here is my issue.

        I'm using a linksys WRT160N router. I have been trying to solve my networking issues with a couple of old games that use DirectPlay (v7 I think). Any computer that tries to find host games to join does a packet broadcast using the DPLAY protocol.
        The host computer responds to each DPLAY broadcast (to port 47624, the standard DirectPlay port) by sending packets to a completely unrelated computer ip address 192.168.2.3:18122. I think this is the problem. There is virtually nothing coming from 192.168.2.3 except it's replies to the host, but this computer is not playing the game, it's doing nothing. The computer sending the DPLAY broadcast never sees any reply packets, and it should be the receiver of the packets going to 192.168.2.3.

        I'm using a Windows 7 and a Windows XP computer. No matter which one is hosting, both try to send packets to 192.168.2.3 rather than to each other. Their IPs end with 19 and 18 respectively.

        Any ideas as to what is going on here?

        This took me 3 days to figure out lol. It doesn't seem like this blog post applies so much, but thought you might be interested to hear the real problem.

      • Thinh Phung Quoc

        not work at all!!!

  • aa

    I have installed it but when I load it , the computer says insert the disc even though it is inserted

    • http://www.simonsarris.com simonsarris

      Have you patched the game?

      You can find the patch file on Microsoft's website here:

      http://download.microsoft.com/download/aoeaok/U

      • Adelmodeuce

        Good suggestion, Simon.  I dowloaded patch but still can’t play AoE II on Windows 7.  Only want to play vrs. computer.  Any additional advice? 

  • JFCP

    man, u can play in servers like:
    GameRanger: http://www.gameranger.com/
    Garena: http://www.garena.com/

  • JFCP

    an easier way to play :D

  • stan

    i'm having a similar problem, I have 2 xp computers that work fine with a mutiplayer lan connection but my windows 7 machine can see the match but is unable to join. all fire walls are down. any suggustions?

    • Littlepops

      buy game at bookmans or barnes and nobles

      • Xamboozi

        This isn’t a piracy problem moron. This is a problem with the game being too old to run on Windows 7. I’m having the same difficulty, but there is no more tech support for this game.

        In the future don’t accuse people of stealing, unless they have really committed theft.

        • Moukmouky2k

          Actually I am able to play it through internet tcp/ip with hamachi with my win7 and we played some games through time but now it’s always saying unable to join game. When we play my buddy is on his old pc but for myself im on my actual and up-to-date one.,. ?!?

  • Mark Raube

    dude does anyone ever get online to play Age of Empires II Age of Kings anymore if so can you give me like a host name or IP Address for me to connect to. Thanx :)

    • Mark Raube

      you can e-mail me your IP Address or host name at ukarumpa_horseboy@yahoo.com
      thanx:)

      • JFCP

        OMG, u just read what i wrote? u can play online with servers like gameranger or garena -_-
        GameRanger: http://www.gameranger.com/
        Garena: http://www.garena.com/

        • stan

          will that work with a no cd hack

          • penispoop

            Yup lol

      • JFCP

        i recommend you gameranger. more servers to play aoe 2 and the expansion

  • Konrad Gorzkowski

    I would like to download the game on my new Windows 7 computer, but it will not let me, how would I go about downloading it?

  • bensmith

    Try installing it, including patches, on another computer using XP (or an OS that works)
    Then go to http://megagames.com/game-info/fix/PC/A
    Find the particular Age of Empires game/version you have and download the No CD fix for it
    Once downloaded, you usually have to extract it and copy over the games .exe file (BACK UP YOUR ORIGINAL EXE FILE TO KEEP FROM HAVING TO REINSTALL IF IT DOESN’T WORK)
    alright so test it out, if the fix works, you won’t need a CD. Then you should be able to just copy the entire AoE game folder to a USB drive. From there copy it onto your computer somewhere, open the folder with the .exe file and open up the game.
    This works for us playing AoE2: Conquerors Expansion fully updated.

    We’ve done this on about 5 Win 7 computers so far, no problem. It should work with any computer running XP or later.

    • Gachaans

       how did you slved lan problems on windows 7? i still cant s creatd game on another computer in my home network.

    • Andrewhillebrand

      i tried the link to download the game but it was a trojan virus thank god i have good anti virus protection

  • Mark Raube

    All of my Windows 7’s and Vista work well with minor glitches for AOE II

  • Mark Raube

    r they like good/safe sites?

  • Jobin

    try gameranger! its free! packed with aoe 1 2 and 3 players!

  • Avicenna202

    I have been playing this game since it was released. I was recently playing it on my macbook, but stupidly decided to upgrade to windows 7. I’m now saving up so I can get a new macbook pro to play it on.

  • IxisClan

    Im having problems running empires2.exe and I am trying to find a way to fix the lack of DirectDraw that Windows 7 has. Any ideas?

    • Pm

      You’re not clear on what your problem is, but the only issue I have had on Win7 (other than LAN play) is the picture quality–it’s dithered improperly and has a grainy look with wrong colors.  The workaround (if this is your problem) is to start the game, minimize it, start Task Manager, click the Processes tab, highlight explorer.exe, and kill it.  Then click the Appplications tab, select AoE, and click Switch To…  When you are done playing, in Task Manager, click New Task… and type in explorer.exe to get your shell back.

  • adhi

    I love this software but i can’t use it on windows 7 they issues that I have problem with my drive and video card,what should I do?

  • Jeshurun

    where there is a will, there is a way.

    If you are having troubles getting the AOE to run on Windows 7, and this a problem of visual  elements, here is the Solution.

    Once you have installed the game, insert the playing disc.

    Right click the icon, and click on open.
    Next, go to the autorun file, or whichever is the file that launches the game.
    Right click on the file and click troubleshoot.
    In troubleshoot, it should automatically try to fix the problem.
    Continue on to click “NO” this was not the solution.
    It will then ask you on which previous version of Windows the file was working for you.
    I chose Windows XP (service pack 3), as i know that the game would have worked on my previous computer with XP.
    The game should then work fine.

    (Basically you are running the game on a different version of windows)

    All the best.

  • watup

    hey guys i’ve bought and tryed installing to my alienware with vista but everytime i install it and go to click play it just says, “something has stoped this program from running correctly windows will notify you if a solution is available”. then just cancels me out and won’t let me play, if someone could help it would be much appreciated.
     p.s. it never sent a notification for a solution.

  • Cannon72

    i have installed the game just fine then when i try to open it the load screen comes up the stops working i’ve tried installing direct x and the patch im runnig vista 32 any advice an i’ve tried different compatability’s as well
     

  • kenji

    not working, I did the same as above

    3 pc’s are using windows 7

  • Harjankel

    As jobin said, download gameranger. This is a simple way to play aoe over the net and it has some fixes built in for some of the more common problems caused by windows 7.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Hart/100000454993310 David Hart

    Trying to get windows 7 laptop to work multiplayer with XP.

    The laptop is able to find the XP’s game but is “unable to join”.

    Set both computers to have static ip now can’t even find the game.
    I didn’t give either one a DNS but they shouldn’t need it because it’s really only LAN.
    I did give them both the same subnet mask and default whatchacallit  and of course two different ip addresses but as I said, neither one can find each other’s game. I was pretty sure I was doin’ it right too…

    I also run AoE2 in compatability with windows service pack 3 just to be sure to be sure.

  • Nimitz

    Hey had all these problems tried it all……ya know what worked? use tcp/ip for direct play and instead of typing in ip under show games tyoes computer NAME! workes without disconnecting from internet or static ips! unbelievable!

  • Dhawal

    I installed AOE III, but after installing, when I tried to open the game, I was told insert CD. I am using Windows 7, GEFORCE GT 540M.

  • spasst chopf

    I had similar problems but now everything works fine. Exept Lan over hamachi 2player works but 3player is just soo laggy, can someone help me?

  • Fghjk

    Install the program “Gameranger”. Quick install and works 100% !!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=673243649 Jo Voud

    It’s a NAT (
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_address_translation ) problem, just use vpn software such as hamachi (
    https://secure.logmein.com/products/hamachi/ ) or play on the ‘new’ zone (previously called igz) voobly (http://www.voobly.com/ ). I realy can recommend Voobly, it realy is like the old zone but better! Voobly supports a proxy, hereby you don’t have these nat problems and you don’t need to forward ports. In case you want to play over the internet (or a more advanced lan), you just need to forward 2300-2400 UDP/TCP and 47624 UDP/TCP. Also update your game ( http://www.voobly.com/pages/view/175/Game-Patches ) for AOE2:TC update to official 1.0c patch and after that to the unofficial 1.0e patch.

    Also as I came on your blog because of your html canvas articles, why not try to rebuild the game using html5 techniques?

    grtz,Jo
    Ps. AOE2:TC awsome game!

  • Raul

    very WRONG! AOEIII does not work over IPX it works on TCP. All you have to do is allow your firewall to pass AOE II AND AND AND Microsoft directplay helper. Thats all no need to make further changes no static IP nor nothing. Why do you write if you don´t know!!

    • brad

       I did that but still can’t find game via the LAN option

  • maslowk

    Apparently the game has issues doing multiplayer games between a windows xp and windows 7 machine =/

  • http://www.facebook.com/junior.prado.1232 Valdeci Antonio Lemes Do Prado

    I HAVE THE SOLUTION…
    GO TO SERVICES.MSC
    PUT AUTOMATIC ON ROUTER AND ….
    PUT DISABLE TO HOST OF DISPOSITIVE

    SHOULD RESOLVE!!
    SORRY MY POOR ENGLISH

  • bostonnights

    setting the static IP worked perfectly…thanks for the info.

  • bostonnights

    Actually just changing to tcp/ip direct connection instead of local lan worked for me on my other laptop. Im using XP….I set a static ip on my Win 7 laptop…both work now…

  • Crystal

    good it worked for me on windows 8 ;)

  • john joe

    my aoe 2 keeps telling me its a sound file

  • http://www.facebook.com/Alex.Habel Alex Habel

    Just tried this, not working for us. Im running vista and es running 7 any thoughts ?

  • lemon

    hi all, I have solve this issue, just create a host with the fourth tcpip( local lan)
    , then join the game with third tcpip( internet), all firewall is down, then i success. hope you success too.

  • Joe

    Does it work just normally? Offline not through LAN or anything.. I just want to play it?