Historical RTS

For a long time, the RTS and strategy game has been the sole purview of the PC gamer. Now though, thanks to clever design and genius thinking by the likes of Paradox with Stellaris, Age of Wonders: Planetfall, and Surviving Mars these games are becoming more and more popular and accessible on the console family of systems.

The latest game to grace the consoles, in this case the Xbox One is the PC game: Ancestors Legacy.

Destructive Creations has crafted an RTS with a smart control system and elegant UI design. Ancestors Legacy makes the leap to Xbox one and lands with both feet firmly on the ground.

Read on to find out if this is your cup of tea as an armchair warlord... or if it might be something that interests you.

Thanks to the PR folks for our code, we had a blast with thisI

Middle (Mouse Button) Ages

Ancestors Legacy is a rarity for an RTS (on console or not). Not since the days of Warcraft III has there been an RTS with such a strong story, dialogue-dripping from cut-scenes and narrative worthy of a product like the Witcher series.

Ancestors Legacy even has simple lip-synched dialogue in those cut scenes, and this is impressive for a RTS.

I'm impressed. There is no way to say otherwise, from the tutorial missions to the full campaign which spans the 8th to the 13th Century, otherwise known as the Middle Ages, the game does a great job of conveying the 'based on history' elements of the story.

You can choose from several factions and see the story from different perspectives as you play through it. From the Anglo-Saxons, Slavs, Germans, and Vikings you'll experience history through numerous battles and confrontations.

Once you complete the prologue tutorials then you are free to tackle the campaigns how you see fit.

But that's not all, you can use a wide array of tactics and strategy to help you in the game's massive maps - and you can also employ stealth to avoid confrontation with superior forces. This hybrid RPG-like RTS is a unique addition to your console library and from the first mission with the Vikings it was obvious I was playing something pretty special.

After a lengthy exposition using simple animation and effective narration the game opens with a bang! These vignette scenes are used mid-mission and as transitions from map to map within the same campaign chapter - they do the job brilliantly.

The opening attack on the shores, with cinema-quality motion capture and action is something I've not seen from an RTS for a long time. These Vikings and their longships are impressively captured and animated in the fury of a storm as the defenders fire arrows at their boats. The on-foot battle action is Witcher 3 worthy in terms of the motion captured brutality.

As the first mission progresses you are introduced to unit management and control, with some lighter elements thrown in and the all-important example of how the game's rock/paper/scissors style unit mechanics stack up. Certain units are weaker to others and the game does a good job showing you which ones are the stronger via a helpful guide and also icons in the game's UI.

The control of units and every aspect of the game is fluid, there are no moments where I struggled to activate a particular thing and even making groups of units is fairly easy once you get the hang of it.

Again, the GUI and radial menus/short-cuts are extremely well implemented here for console and allow you to keep a close eye on your units and their actions on the battlefield.

There are follow camera controls too, and with a click of the left stick you can launch a cinematic camera which brings you up close and personal to the motion captured battle action. This showcases the Unreal Engine 4's graphics in this starkly beautiful and brutal game.

Blood slakes the ground, units are injured and covered in blood, and they all have their own personality based on the type of unit you are commanding.

Your heroes are often the most powerful units, and any unit that you can upgrade is shown on the UI with a spinning star next to their icon in the top left of the screen. Again, the flow of information is preserved and anyone who plays RTS' is going to feel right at home here - whilst a new player won't be overwhelmed and they should be able to see right away what the status of their units is.

Upgrading is simple and again the radial menu delivers control over numerous aspects of the unit, their stances, and their upgrades. Clean, simple, and effective.

As the campaign progresses it adds more and more layers of complexity, bringing in resource management and even base building - which was a nice surprise to someone who loves these kinds of mechanics. Your base can be upgraded; you can seize enemy camps and villages and strengthen your army. You can easily (once again via the radial menu) control any aspect of your camp and villages as well as upgrading buildings, unit headquarters, and sending peasants out to do various jobs like: farm, mine, gather wood etc.

At no point did I feel overwhelmed controlling all of this and it was a pleasure to play.

The guide is there for you to read if you need a hand making sense of the systems here, or just a refresher from the objectives/game systems. It is informative and helpful with a lot of quick and simple information presented in a friendly manner for new players.

Tactical Computer Combat

I really like the AI in this game, it won't just rush you, it will test your defences, probe for weaknesses and push you based on your play style on the higher diffculties. It's challenging without being unfair I feel.

Beautiful Slaughter

What a headline, but that is about the best way to describe the game. It looks good, and it looks really good on the Xbox One X. The maps and environments are packed with lots of solid detail and the Unreal 4 Engine does a good job of bringing the Middle Ages to life. There is a lot of reactivity between the units and the undergrowth, with animations changing based on the terrain encountered.

Blood and Battle the Animated Edition

The combat in Ancestors Legacy is gritty, dynamic, brutal, and highly cinematic (especially if you use the cinematic action camera to keep an eye on your fighting) with a mix of units and unit types spread across the factions, there's a lot for armchair generals to sink their teeth into.

The animations are motion captured and the fights are more like brutal ballets because of it, with the soldiers taking and giving various blows until they fall or triumph.

When not battling your army has personality as the various soldiers stand around idle and have various idle animations.

At the end of a particular nasty fight the whole area looks like a charnel house.

The Clash of Steel

Sound design is really well implemented in this game, there are numerous battle sounds alongside the environmental audio and it all comes together to create an impressive soundscape - there is tons of personality attributed to the idle units you control as they mutter to each other, cough, and wait for their next fight.

Story of War

The dialogue is fairly solid in the game, and draws from the historical accounts for names/places/people/events and so forth. Famous figures from history are your enemies, or allies, sometimes directly controlled by you - sometimes they fight alongside your armies.

Vocal Talent

There are some OK performances in the game, some decent, and a few that do not quite hit the mark. Overall though, the voice talent here does a great job of bringing to life the stories and events that happened around the 8th to 13th Century. It cannot have been an easy task to script something like this, and the narrative animated cut-scenes have some great voice work for the most part.

Save of the Century

With hard saves and quick-saves the game lets you dive in and out as you want. You are always a few saves away from being able to change your tactics, and with different difficulty levels on offer, you might just have to do just that since at the higher difficulties the game is quite challenging.

Single Player Conflict

You can experience the game's big campaigns on your own, dive into Skirmish maps (you vs. the AI) and there is a lot to keep you going.

Multiplayer Mayhem

It would not be an RTS without the option to join or murder your fellow gamers; the game has you covered in this regard. The game runs with Domination and Annihilation game modes and in the former you are capturing villages to accumulate points. You get enough, you win, simple as that.

Annihilation sets you the task of destroying your opponent's base camp.

If you want to look into this or the game's features as a whole beyond this review, then there's a handy wiki to check out here https://ancestorslegacy.gamepedia.com/Ancestors_Legacy_Wiki

I had a few matches of the multiplayer and managed to lose by the skin of my teeth on the first, since it is entirely possible to be close to victory and lose out points wise in this mode.

All in all, it was fun, but I am far more interested in the single player aspect of these games all told.

Historical not Hysterical

This is a great game for anyone who loves this period of history, desires a well-paced, solid, and intuitive RTS game on console. A decent level of graphics and a solid frame-rate, with no actual issues I can speak of. I haven't had a single crash whilst playing since launch and I have experienced no frame drops even when lots of units are involved in a brutal free-for-all on screen.

Good stuff!