STAFF REVIEW of Ancestors Legacy (Xbox One)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019.
by Adam Dileva

Ancestors Legacy Box art What usually kills a decent RTS when it comes over to consoles is its control scheme. With a mouse and keyboard you have full control of what you want to do quickly. Mapping that to a controller is no easy feat, as proven by the numerous RTS games that have released on console, but very few have done it successfully. This is usually the first aspect of a console RTS that I experiment with and judge, as it will completely make or break the game. Luckily, I can attest that Ancestors Legacy is one of the few that have seemed to have manageable controls; not perfect, but much better than others out there.

While I’m no RTS aficionado, as I’m generally not very skilled in them, I do enjoy them regardless. Top down strategy games usually require a lot of skill, as you need to multitask and manage nodes, build your base, command units and fight off the enemy; Ancestors Legacy is no different. If I had to directly compare it to another RTS, I’d say it’s mechanically similar to Company of Heroes, yet has a Middle Ages setting; a good pairing if you ask me.

Set between the 8th and 13th century, Ancestors Legacy surprised me most with its quite lengthy campaign. You begin by controlling the first of four nations, the Vikings. After you complete the first few missions, which act as the tutorial, you’ll be able to then freely choose between the Viking, German, Slav or Anglo-Saxon factions, each of which have two stories and characters each. Each person’s campaign is broken into five lengthy missions, totaling forty missions to sink your teeth into. Factor in multiple difficulties as well and you have quite a bit of value contained within.

According to developers Destructive Creations, many of the single player campaign missions are based on historical events as well, which is even more impressive. As you progress, missions become longer and more involved. I initially just expected each faction to simply be a pallet or skin swap, but they are quite different, each of which’s campaign was interesting and kept my attention throughout.

Being a strategy game, there is of course base building and resource management, along with combat, but something about the Middle Ages setting really interested me. Once I grasped my head around the resource management and capturing nodes, I finally got into a good groove where I was able to execute my orders to my squads exactly how I intended, or retreating when I knew the battle was lost, sparing a few lives.

While combat may not be as large scale as some other titles, it’s manageable, and you’re able to freely zoom far out to see the whole battlefield, or up close and personal with individual units. I do recommend that you stay zoomed out though, as the visuals are passable as a whole, but zooming in does show the lesser quality animations and models when in close range.

Like many other RTS’, you’ll be tasked with capturing enemy nodes, halting their resources and giving them to you. There are other mechanics in play though, such as being able to utilize tactical advantages, like flanking from cover in a tall field, knowing what units are strong and weak against others and destroying and pillaging anything in your path.

While the overall mission variety is generally the same throughout, having you start from nothing and eventually building an army, surviving an onslaught, recouping and overrunning the enemy, the story between missions make it all mean something, tying it all together in a way that matters. Have enough resources and you can amass quite an army, ploughing through nearly anything in your path, but there’s specifically a retreat command purposely given to you, as you’ll need to rely on it when you become overrun. There’s no shame in running away to live and fight another day.

Each faction has a handful of different units that can be created and utilized in different ways. With the Vikings for example, you can make scouts and send them out on horseback at incredible speeds, spotting enemies and figure out your next plan of attack. Do you build an army that has mostly soldiers, or have shield bearers that can endure the most damage on the front lines. Once I had access to creating archers, combat became much more interesting and tactical. Be warned though, as friendly fire from archers can, and will, hit and kill your own members, something that happened quite often.

As your units are victorious in battle, they’ll level up and become stronger. While you could simply build more units and send them into the meat grinder, having units able to level makes you want to take care of them more. Doing so is easy, as in between battles you can heal your surviving units by having them rest and camp. I would trick a solo enemy unit into my trap, defeat them, rest up and continue on my path. And yes, there are actual traps you can build as well, great if you want to play with even more strategy and purpose, though I didn’t rely on them very much overall.

While there is base building, it’s quite basic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it keeps the gameplay more focused on the combat and strategy elements. You’ll need resources to build and create units though, such as wood, ore and food. Take over an enemy encampment and capture it for yourself and you’ll be collecting all of its resources for your own army. Each building and unit takes a specific amount of resources, so you’ll always want to capture any nodes you possibly can.

Your enemies will not let that slide though and try and retake them, so do you set a group of units to defeat these nodes, or spend a lot of resources and build an archer tower that can help defend itself. There’s a fine balance that you’ll need to figure out, and once it all ‘clicked’ for me, it worked wonderfully.

The only real oddity I found with the base building aspect was that you’re unable to freely place the buildings where you want. Building a tent will set it in a specific spot, as will a barracks, blacksmith, archery range and others. While it’s not a deal breaker, some might find this small detail a little disappointing.

While the overall visuals are serviceable and fitting of the medieval setting, zooming in close to units really doesn’t hold up well and starts to show its flaws. That said, the soundtrack is fantastic and sets the atmosphere well, even if the voice acting in the campaign is quite dreadful at times.

With four separate factions, each with two campaigns, there’s a ton of content here to keep you busy for quite some time, and that’s not even factoring in the multiplayer skirmishes as well. It may not be the most robust RTS out there, but it’s a great console RTS that vets and newcomers alike should enjoy. Plus, who doesn’t like Vikings?

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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