Storm through medieval Europe! – Ancestors Legacy review

by Sammy Chan
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Ancestors Legacy is the first big release and most ambitious project yet from studio Destructive Creations. With its addition to my library, I wasn’t too sure as to what awaited me. Needless to say, I kept my expectation at bay before jumping in.
After a few hours in into the campaign, however, I’d come to truly adore the game’s combat style. It is heavily tactical with a mix of traditional RTS. Despite my obvious enjoyment and as much as I’d want to recommend this game to all RTS fans out there, its multiple flaws can’t be overlooked. The small things drag it down to add a sense of frustration and tediousness that ruin an otherwise enjoyable experience.
Even with its failings and flaws, there remains, however, a lot of content to be enjoyed here. Especially through its strong campaign mode. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst this game has to offer.

The Amazing Campaigns

A brief tutorial introduces you to the first of six playable heroes in a campaign spanning over 35 different scenarios. Each campaign is set under one of four different nations. This includes the Vikings, the Anglo Saxons, the Germans, and the Slavs. The battles you play through are set in awe of great historic events involving kings, armies, and impossible victories.
It’s safe to say that these campaigns are the best aspects of the game. Each scenario forms these multi-objective, interconnecting storylines that change as you progress. You can find yourself anywhere between negotiating treaties for peace or slaying your way through entire cities bent on your capture.

Ancestors Legacy

Image via 1C Company

Each map is a test of cunning and wit, some are demanding, some absurd, some amusing but all enjoyable and each beautifully narrated. The fifth and last scenario of a hero’s journey always culminates perfectly in these massive climactic battles that bring the story to a definitive close. Each level is roughly 20-30 minutes long. The game definitely which has plenty to offer in terms of game time.

Different but equally exciting

Ancestors Legacy doesn’t stray far from the traditional RTS mold. You’ll capture new bases, increase your army, and destroy your enemy. Base building and resource management are simplistic options requiring nothing more than a click of a button to maximize your income. It has basically been streamlined so you can focus on the bigger picture – fighting the war.
The difficulty comes from striking a humble balance between your men, your upgrades, expansion, and building. Put too much emphasis on your upgrades and not enough on defense or manpower and your map control will suffer as a result. Each unit can be upgraded both through experience and armor. Healing your men and knowing when to retreat plays an important part in preserving your money spent.

Getting things right

There is a subtle but distinct tactical breath to just about every combat encounter. Setting up a successful defense for an approaching force needs to be more than countering a unit type with its weakness. Victory requires incorporating real strategies into your planning, such as placing traps to lower enemy numbers or having hidden cavalry perform fast moving flank attacks on unsuspecting enemy charges. Initiation of combat and unit placement are key aspects that contribute to the outcome of every battle.
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Once your units initiate combat they become unable to move, other than ordering them to “flee” your combat options become servery limited, meaning positioning your men and planning areas of combat beforehand are of grave importance. There will be many occasions where you will have to make the call to retreat for more favorable battle circumstances. There are also a massive amount of both in-game effects and selected abilities that can influence you unit stats.
For example, standing in different terrain effects movement speed, rain effects the ability of archers and abilities acquired through religious means can buff the combat stats of all your men. It takes some time to get used to positioning and movement, what works and what doesn’t but the feeling of being outnumbered and turning a seemingly impossible situation around makes you feel like a tactical expert.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows

Ancestors Legacy lack detailed supportive interphase and hotkeys makes grouping and mass battles somewhat of a complete mess. There is also no speed setting so all your men run at different speeds to their objectives often with your lightweight archers ending up on the front lines. The lack of advanced controls means men have a mind of their own when enemies approach.

Ancestors Legacy

Image via 1C Company

Upgrading your men is done through selecting each individual unit and the lack of a pause button in single player means you have to do this all in real time. Micro-managing your men, awareness of your army, managing base upgrades, building more men and unit positioning all combined become a daunting process of constant micro-management often resulting in frustrating failure. The lack of a detailed interphase is a critical downside to a game that has such an emphasis on combat.

Multiplayer adds many more hours to the fun

Each nation has some inherent similarities on the surface but beneath that, they all have a distinctive feel and play differently. Taking the plunge into multiplayer means you can bring up to 2 of your friends for 3 on 3 battles. These fights are chaotic and fast-paced against a ruthless AI. The skirmishes will leave you scrambling for choke points and using just about every means possible to gain that combat edge. It’s not a perfect system, with a limited map selection and only two different modes. They are nowhere near as developed as the campaign but none the less, it does add a PvP dynamic that brings a sense of challenge and skill.

Where does that leave us?

Against the boons of its successes Ancestors Legacy remains hampered by the tedious interphase that holds it back from reaching its true potential. Besides this downside, however, is the framework of something truly special. The plethora of tactical options and combat elements that are included in a well-designed system makes this one of the most complex, yet easy to get into RTS games I have ever played. If you enjoy the tactical side of battles and want something combat-heavy and challenging, definitely consider picking this one up. It’s detailed in the right parts to favor combat and strategy over base management and resource gathering to focus more on the action. I give this game a very well deserved 7.5/10. If you’re a fan of RTS games picking up this one isn’t a mistake especially for its campaign.

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