Age of Empires IV's best civilization will always be an open question. The game has so many variables and potential strategies, choosing a single civilization as the hands-down best in all situations is a likely impossible task. (If you're looking for the rundown on all eight options in the game, we have a guide here.)
Still, there are some civilizations that seem to perform better against the rest, and as the metagame develops, those civilizations will rise to the top. Just a few days out from Age of Empires IV's release, here's a general sense of how the community ranks each civilization.
Age of Empires 4 Best Civilization: Early Tier List
S Tier — French, Rus
The two most popular and successful civilizations in the Age of Empires multiplayer scene right now are the French and the Rus. France's early dominance isn't hard to explain, as it's also one of the simplest civilizations to pilot and their cavalry is both available early on and powerful throughout the game. Rus, on the other hand, is great at controlling the hunt on the map and harassing enemy villagers and camps. Their late-game upgrades are also really powerful, enabling them to start and finish strong.
A Tier – Abbasid Dynasty, English
The Abbasid Dynasty benefits hugely from its Camel units, which counter the Knights fielded by both the Rus and the French. They can also move through the Ages quickly, and have cheaper Villars thanks to Fresh Food.
The English are just a solid all-around civilization that focuses on defense. Their Counsel Hall and King's Palace Landmarks are some of the best in the game.
B Tier – Mongol, Holy Roman Empire
The Mongols are extremely difficult to play, but their economy is quick to establish and very hard to disrupt. Kiting with their Mangudai unique unit is also very hard to deal with.
The Holy Roman Empire excels on water maps, and if they can secure three relics before their opponents they snowball so hard as to be all but unbeatable.
C Tier – Chinese, Delhi Sultanate
The Chinese may be the most difficult civilization to pilot, which has made their place in the meta game hard to gauge accurately. The same is true of the Delhi Sultanate. Players have yet to find ways to make these civilizations pop in online matches, but it's likely their positions will move around as players become more experienced running them.