The Rise of Rome features a new Roman architectural design, shared by all four new civilizations, the Romans, Palmyrans, Macedonians and Carthaginians. Four new researchable technologies have been added. Additional new features include five new units, four new random map types, and a larger map size option. Pathfinding for all units is also considerably improved.
Gameplay-wise, the expansion introduced numerous interface tweaks, such as unit queuing, the ability to double click a single unit and highlight others of the same unit-type, balancing damage done by catapults, and the option to increase the population limit beyond 50 (only in multiplayer games). By installing the 1.0a update, it is also possible to use the period key to cycle through idle villagers.
New music was composed for this expansion, which replaced the original score entirely.