There was no tutorial, no training. The open beta for Ancestors Legacy loaded and I found myself looking at a rag-tag group of sling-shot weilding “slingers” and a small, hastily-built cabin. My two teammates had similar starting layouts, one on either side of me, comfortably located in the northern corners of the map. I was sandwiched between them. Our three opponents loaded into mirrored positions at the bottom of the map. One of my teammates was a level 2 account, and my other teammate instantly proclaimed “first game” as soon as the match started. I’ll call them Veteran and Newbie.
I noticed that Veteran was moving his own slingers south, towards an unoccupied village. I then remembered the loading screen tip about capturing villages to win, so sent my own slingers trailing Veteran’s. Newbie was off on his own side of the map, moving down to a village directly below his starting base.
As my units moved into the village, they immediately began lobbing torches into the buildings. I guess the fastest way to lay claim to a village is to burn it down? Logic aside, it was pretty dramatic to see the villagers run in terror as our slingers trotted in and subsequently incinerated everything. I found myself zooming in and watching it all like it was a movie.
Veteran turned out to be one of those players who is happy to help, which was a godsend considering the beta offered no training whatsoever. A few minutes into the match and Newbie and I had a handful of soldiers marching around between the villages we had captured, keeping a watch out for encroaching enemies.
A group of my soldiers who I had stashed in the woods alongside one of the map’s main roads were the first to come into contact with the enemy. Unseen archers pelted my troops with a few volleys before the enemy foot soldiers charged in. My men were outnumbered, I knew this was going to be a quick fight, but I zoomed in to get a better look at the battle.
Screaming Vikings charged around trees and clashed viciously against my own barbarians. I watched in awe as one Viking with a gigantic axe heaved the weapon over his head and crushed it about eight inches into the skull of one of my own men. The battle was bloody, brutal, and over in about ten seconds. My soldiers retreated automatically once the battle was clearly lost, the survivors ignoring my commands as they ran back north to regroup.
As they ran to safety, I heard horses. Down from the north came Veteran’s cavalry units, their battle cries hardly louder than the stomping hooves of the horses. The charge found the archers who had pelted my soldiers; Veteran caught them before they knew he was coming. Then, before the enemy spear men could move to attack the cavalry, Veteran strategically withdrew his cavalry units. As the horses withdrew, my eyes were drawn to the bodies left laying in the forest. It was pure carnage and it only took about thirty seconds.
Ancestors Legacy is all about fast-paced battles and the tension and build-up that lead to them. The game reminded me of Company of Heroes in that its cinematic quality is seamlessly woven into the strategy-focused gameplay.
Veteran, Newbie, and myself ended up the victors. We held the villages longer than our opponents could. There were about a half-dozen skirmishes sprinkled between that first battle and our victory. All were brutal, bloody, and decisive in their own ways.
Ancestors Legacy is currently in open beta, available to everyone with a Steam account, for a limited time. The game is set to release on May 22, and the current price on Steam is $44.99. No word on how long the open beta will run for.