posted 17 May 2021 08:49 PM EDT (US)   
As Terry A Davis-sounding the title is (and the conclusion) essentially, I'm referring to how the general "type" of gameplay AoM uses especially compared to earlier AoE Games.

In Age of Empires, typically it was implied it was about empires and states going to war against each other, you spread your own TCs about, make large sized armies composed of 1 pop units, etc, AoE2 focused more on "central bases" and castles, hence the presence of palisades and such, and why the game favours the players hiding away it their mega fortress, expanding it like the Citadel from Half-Life 2 or founding new "castles/forts" with the major aim still being 'imperial gameplay' in both games you can research a lot of technologies, large maps representing continents and you can train a variety of units, AI and antagonists are generally represented as actual human beings (Harald Hardraada, Alexander the Great, etc)

Age of Mythology is however different, you aren't playing in big maps representing continents or areas (Lombardia, Black Forest, etc) but rather sections of areas (Midgard, Alfheim, so on) where the maps are small, culture's unit lists are generally smaller focusing more on local armies, and most of the diversity of techlists are military or religiously dominated, and the few economic inclusions are based upon equipment, tools, and practices (use of hunting dogs, supplying bowsaws, etc - no inventions) most importantly the design and art style of the game has a rather fixed "timeline" you aren't going from the prehistoric age to the rise of rome, your culture as already done that, hence no Loom, No Wheelbarrows, etc. As well the AI no longer are based upon real or mythic figures, instead those names go to heroes, instead they are named after IRL city states (Thebes, Athens, Skarsgard, etc) though the Atlanteans a rather an odd one out (though it could be implied they just name cities after founders and figures, a lot like Alexander the Great and naming cities Alexandria) finally you have to place TCs in specific places, you are taking settlements (though the history file states they are abandoned) of minor tribes, smaller cults and groups, essentially annexing them, you can't just build a new TC out in nowhere, since your cult doesn't have the manpower and ability to completely found a new state, you can only spread your influence and annex. Should mention as well historically cities in Egypt and Greece were dedicated to a single god, or a cult of a god, and expanded their influence onto nearby towns and villages they were nearby to and annexed (i.e settlements like in AoM) Forgot to mention as well, "civs" doesn't exist in AoM, instead their are Cultures, and specifically Major Gods of those Cultures.

Norse are simple, they were historically tribes and groups that generally followed a specific set of gods, as well berserkers were generally dedicated to a type of god as well, not to mention the germanic tribes never really had a unified state until the middle ages and stated becoming christians (also they are called Norse not Vikings, as this is the Norse before they went around destroying, raiding and raping villages)

This is also why something like the Romans wouldn't work, compared to the other cultures included, Romans were pragmatic, and scientific (though superstitious, and had a religion which while present wasn't as prevalent as say Greece or Egypt) not to mention unlike said civs, the Romans were generally a combined amoeba, Latins at the top with various other cultures combined, they didn't have city state cults, or really any independent city state since the loyalty and cities were under one faction dedicated to the Emperor/Imperator, they did however have an IMPERIAL cult - these factors are why ES decided to ultimately rework their civilization into the Atlanteans, have the same military, throw in gladiators, have the civilization follow titans, and most importantly be a city-stated 'religiously separated but theomonarchy politically united' faction dedicated to cults of the titans, and the lore of the military revolve around fanatics. Most importantly the Atlanteans gather favor by specifically spreading this influence by annexing, and conquering their enemies settlements.

This is probably why the Chinese don't really work with AoM, the religions, and mythos do, but the culture's dynamic just doesn't - The Chinese were never as religious as the Greeks, Egyptians, Norse, hell, not even as the Romans! They never really had prevalent cults, just beliefs, and practices dedicated to worshipping ancestors, or following philosophies, or gurus, almost no wars were based around fighting against cultists, and the city states that did exist were purely political enemies that started off as settlements that split off due to displeasing or being displeased with the emperor, and otherwise followed the same religion and culture, that were inevitably annexed by the "central chinese civilization" regardless.

Simply, you aren't building a civilization or an empire, you are building a citystate, but why? Because you are building a religious cult, dedicated to a major god, and 3 minor gods, you aren't building a city either, you are building a small military settlement to fight against other military religious cults, which result in you going around and destroying said city cults regardless if you are building a wonder, annexing the whole map, or committing genocide.

TLR - Age of Mythology is less about civilizations and empires, and more about city states, and their specific cults going around expanding their influence by annexing settlements and destroying hostile cults, not civilizations or empires. And this has been my Schizo-Autistic tedTalk

Creator of AoM Expanded Mod (https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1828492742) and Mod on AoEWiki (Morayus1)