As recent as last console generation, an RTS on console – with the exception of Halo Wars – was pretty much guaranteed to be a nightmarish experience. There are just too many systems and too many things to monitor to be able to successfully transfer the genre to a controller. Fast forward a few more years and now it’s commonplace to find not just functional console RTS games but damn good ones. Enter Ancestors Legacy, a title released on Steam in 2018, but always with the intent of hitting consoles.
An RTS with a Viking slant, Ancestors Legacy offers up a robust but delicately streamlined title that works exceedingly well with a controller. Like many RTS titles, the campaigns – of which there are eight, spread across four factions – serve as glorified tutorials for the online and Skirmish modes. Playing as one of the Vikings, Slavs, Anglo-Saxons, or Germans, you can work your way through the adequate but not overly impressive stories. Or you can compete in up to 6-player matches, with a wide array of sliders and options to customise your Skirmish experience. As you’d expect, the factions come with different pros, cons, and hero characters to make the most of, so choose wisely.
One of the cleverest facets of the title is the manner in which resources are handled. There are three total resources, and collecting them is tied to taking control of individual towns/population centers. This drastically streamlines the flow of the game, allowing more room for the 'S' in RTS to shine. Flanking, elevation, weather, just about everything serves some tactical purpose. Different attack modes for your units allow you to locate different environment hazards such as traps, and every troop movement or maneuver feels significant. Pair that with the slightly lower-than-usual unit cap, and every decision you make feels more significant than simply throwing a wall of fodder at the enemy until you overwhelm them.
Even more impressive is that navigating through your units is a breeze on the DualShock 4. Between hot keys, unit groupings, and being able to hop between settlements on the fly, using a controller doesn’t actually feel like a detriment here. The downside is all this navigation can make the screen feel downright cluttered with icons and things to keep track of.
The game also happens to be a feast for the eyes, especially on the PS4 Pro. Impressive textures, terrain rendering, downright stunning lighting, and some surprisingly good in-engine cutscenes ensure that the visual presentation is ace. None of this hampers the performance either. The frame rate is rock solid even when many units crowd the battlefield, though occasional hard crashes may spoil your fun.
Ancestors Legacy makes a comfortable transition to console, serving up an RTS experience that plays superbly and looks the part. Minor technical issues and a moderately cluttered UI do little to detract from the overall action, which is strong across all of the release's main modes.