As my adventure first started, I found myself as a Viking headed to loot and pillage Lindisfarne. We didn’t know it, but recent events had caused the English to have a heavier than expected presence in our path. Unable to deter us, however, we plunged headlong into the defenders, burning their villages and camps. Godric and Ulf, the leaders of our warband, led us to sweet victory against our English enemies. However, this was but a taste as the adventure was just the beginning. There were many more to come in Ancestors Legacy.
Ancestors Legacy is a real time strategy game that was first released on PC in 2018. In August of 2019, Legacy came to Xbox One and Playstation 4 and finally released on the Nintendo Switch June 11, 2020. Personally, the Switch is my go-to platform for any game, especially due to the mobile nature of the platform. That said, Ancestors Legacy was a game that should never have come to the Switch. While it definitely has its merits, playing Ancestors Legacy on the Switch made me want to play it on my PC.
The most prevalent problem I encountered while playing Legacy was that using the Switch meant learning many different control combinations with a relatively small number of buttons and no mouse. Because the tutorial missions were no help in learning them, I found that 3-5 hours into the game I was still trying to understand how best to play it. For example, over time - long after I should have learned this - I eventually figured out that I could select more than one unit type at once instead of moving unit types one at a time.
After a few hours of gameplay, I had finally figured out at least the most important controls were and that made the game much easier to play. Despite that, I still found myself wanting to play Legacy on the PC instead. It felt as though Ancestors Legacy really left you to discover the full breadth of controlling the RTS on console as opposed to taking you directly through each keybinding. And while Ancestors Legacy was made for keyboard and mouse, the Switch controls should feel just as solid, not half-cocked as they do now.
As I stated before, the “tutorial” missions were no help in learning the controls but my problem with the tutorial doesn’t end there. The tutorial really should have been a separate part of the game for players who want to go through it. Instead, Legacy forces you to start as a Viking and learn the game before the option to play any other civilization is even unlocked.
Of course, you can start a different campaign as soon as you finish the tutorial missions, but there is no reason why Legacy shouldn’t allow for people to play the game the way we want. If I want to start as the Teutons or the Slavs, I shouldn’t have to slog through 3-5 hours of missions as a Viking to be able to do that. I should be able to play as any faction I choose from the first time I turn it on. There is no connective tissue in the stories that made it imperative to play the Vikings first. In fact, as I mentioned before, after the initial raid on Lindisfarne, I was able to play whatever campaign I wanted. It should have been that way from the first time I turned it on.
In Ancestors Legacy, there are a total of 8 campaigns to play with each of the four factions getting two apiece. These campaigns are what sets Ancestors Legacy apart from other games in the genre. The campaigns are based on real historical accounts from the likes of Edward the Confessor or William the Conqueror. As someone who enjoys history, that was a real treat. The problem came when it was time to do some multiplayer. I had really hoped that Ancestors Legacy would redeem itself by allowing me to just set up a game online and play against others.
It does appear in the skirmish mode that it was intended for online use but after waiting an eternity for someone to jump in to the open server, I did some further research and realized I was waiting for a multiplayer game that could never happen. The Switch port of Ancestors Legacy doesn’t support multiplayer. If you’re ok with skirmishes always being against AI players, that’s fine but I really do enjoy the ability to play an RTS with someone who is really there.
Please don’t misunderstand me. As I said before, Ancestors Legacy does have merits. The art style during cutscenes is really amazing. I almost wish the whole game was in that style. After figuring out how to play, Legacy did become enjoyable. The story-teling is pretty good and my love of games can be directly tied to my love of stories.
My issues are mostly with Legacy being on the Switch. It shouldn’t take me half a campaign to become okay with the control scheme. A great game normally makes me want to come back to it any time that I’m not playing but I just wanted to play something different for so long that the magic was never really there even when I started to enjoy myself. The frustrating nature of the controls on Nintendo Switch made my whole experience lesser as a result. I had hoped this would scratch that RTS itch so much but mostly it just made me want to go play Starcraft.
I wish I could recommend Ancestors Legacy to Switch players. I wish I could say I had an amazing time and couldn’t put it down. Unfortunately, I mostly just wish I had played it on PC. As my brother told me, “not every game belongs on the Switch.” I suppose he was right.
Full Disclosure: This game was reviewed using code provided by PR for the purposes of this review.