A game reviewer for several years, Tobias reviews games from any decade. They tend to ramble about game design and old media.
Ancestors Legacy has more of an episodic format for its story. There are multiple story choices in the campaign that takes place in different time periods. For example, the Vikings campaign is set during the start of the Viking age, and is not connected to the other campaigns in the game. Each campaign is a different historical era of war for you to choose and fight in.
The reason I bring up the Vikings is that it is the first campaign and also sets the stage as the game's tutorial. The Vikings story takes place during the attack of Lindisfarne, but you and your group get caught in a storm while sailing to the island and half to venture from the exact opposite side of the island to get where you need to be.
It is a well thought out way to teach game mechanics and to gradually increase the difficulty as you go. Naturally less challenging enemies would be far away from the main target with enemies becoming more aggressive and better prepared as you get close to Lindisfarne.
By the end of the campaign, you should have learned the most important parts of the game and are ready to take on the other chapters, which also amp the difficulty up a bit.
I don't want to say the story in Ancestors is weak, in fact, it is quite strong if you view it exactly how it is. The game is letting you recreate moments of history and tries to stay closer to being historically accurate than making a fantastical story up. However, the Vikings also feel really generic in personality and some of the realism is lost in that. Especially when the Vikings are constantly talking about how much they want to kill and pillage, and that is about it.
The visuals are pretty standard for an RTS game. when zoomed out the visuals look quite good, but when you zoom in you start to noticed how low resolution they really are. That doesn't say they are bad though. On the Series X with HDR and 4K chosen in the options of the game, it looks really nice, thanks to Unreal Engine.
To get the standard things out of the way, characters and buildings look kind of ugly zoomed into, characters actually look kind of like little action figures. I did have a good laugh when I zoomed into the grass and it looked like they just threw grass.jpg on it and called it a day.
But these choices were actually pretty smart in a gameplay feel. There are LOTS of things that happen on-screen constantly in this game, lots of nice light effects, the fire in the game looks great. lots of particle effects during fights and when destroying buildings. You can tell the graphical limiting was done to make sure the game played well instead of looked pretty.
Honestly, I can respect that as someone who feels a game should feel good to play first before it should look good. However, the game could be tweaked a bit, as character framerates severely drop when moving slightly to the edge of your view, or when a character dies, it feels like the game speed is still at its 30fps target, but the people themselves dip down into the low tens.
Visually, it is fine. It doesn't fail at what it does, but it doesn't improve anything either.
The sound is quite good, combat has that gruesome sound to it as axes hit flesh and such. The sound does a good job at making armies feel big when they yell as they charge into combat with enemy troops.
Other sound effects feel fairly stock but accomplish what needs to be done, fire noises, falling buildings, and explosions. It all sounds relatively normal in terms of you will have probably heard the same sounds or similar from other titles. However, the areas that mattered are what got the treatment. The combat noises especially.
The voice acting is quite good too! I always find voice acting in RTS game a little flat, and this was no different. But, the actual voice talent in the game was really good and nailed the accents and ways of speaking very well.
This is really where the game is earning most of the points and it deserves them. I am not an RTS master, I play them occasionally and have fun sure, but, I am not someone who plays them often. I was a little nervous jumping in thinking I wouldn't be able to pick up the game and understand it quickly. Especially since so many people say these games play best on a pc.
While I do agree that these games should be played on a pc, like Halo Wars it feels perfectly fine using a controller. Sure, I was a little confused at first and would accidentally hit wrong buttons, or get confused on how to select specific units (things that would have been very easy with a keyboard and mouse). However, by the 4th level in the campaign, the controls felt second nature and I had no problem through the rest of the game.
However, with a lack of quick feedback since you are using a controller I wish there was a dedicated pause button in the game world so you can look at what's going on and better decide what to do next. It IS a small gripe and most people probably won't even care, but it was something I felt needed pointing out.
It plays like your typical RTS—rally troops, destroy buildings, and capture resources so you can grow your armies bigger and become unstoppable. It follows that formula well and is fun to play. Have a group kill enough enemies, and you can give them perks like increased stats or better armor so they can take on more enemies at once.
If we were looking at the game on a line it would be a steady climb instead of a curve or a crazy rollercoaster, with jumps and dips everywhere. The developers took the time to make sure the game felt balanced and they did a commendable job at making sure you were never doing bad because the game forgot to teach you something.
The biggest disappointment in the gameplay isn't even the dev's fault. The game has a fantastic skirmish and campaign mode. However, I was unable to review the multiplayer. Nobody is playing the game, I sat and waited for 15 minutes in a lobby before just giving up and going back to skirmish. The game definitely needs more eyes on it, and I think the reason not many are online is probably that the RTS genre is a little niche on consoles.
Hopefully, this can change some minds.
As mentioned before, the learning curve is great. It is slow and easy at first and as you start to fully understand the mechanics it pushes the difficulty up in a way to make sure you do.
Some games I play feel like they become too hard too fast. That is probably because many RTS games expect you to know much about the genre as a whole before jumping into their game. This one makes sure to treat any player as new and it really helps cement this as the "play this to see if you would like this genre" kind of game.
With multiple campaigns and skirmish modes, I can see many people coming back to this game more than once.
Ancestors Legacy is not a perfect game, but it isn't a bad one either. While better games of the genre may be on pc. This game has easily found a safe haven for fans of the genre on consoles.
It does have problems that hold it from me giving it a high review. But by all means, give the game a chance if you can. History and strategy fans will both enjoy it.
feels good to play with controller
Do not expect multiplayer
difficulty scaling is fair while challenging
general sounds are not the best.
Runs very smooth with lots on screen.
Odd framerate issues on animations