The Ancients AR is a great demo, but struggles to find the fun beyond sheer novelty.
The Ancients AR is one of a new line of augmented reality titles hitting mobile storefronts, promising to combine the benefits of augmented reality tech with traditional gaming experiences. It’s even built using the ambitious ARKit tech, and it shows.
To developer Immersion’s credit, they stuck to their promise of an impressive AR showcase for more traditional experiences. The ability to zoom in and out naturally on this little microcosm of a fantasy world is great, and the difference between playing with the augmented reality on, versus the game’s traditional camera perspective is undeniable. There’s this natural feeling, like staring down at a game board, but the pieces are all moving without your hand. It nails precisely what AR games can offer for real-time strategy games, but you’re left wishing The Ancients was as engaging as a game as it was as a tech demo.
Uploaded by Appolicious on 2018-07-20.
I won’t mince words here – The Ancients AR is a very dry strategy game. There’s next to no introduction to the game’s balancing and flow beyond a simple tutorial. What units serve which roles best and what stat boosts actually mean is left completely vague, leaving you to fumble about with a small fleet of ships, often against far larger opposing fleets. The story itself has some flavor thanks to a decent narration of events by a mage who assists a king defend his kingdom. None of the story comes up in-game though, only during cutscenes, leaving battles startling quiet.
If you’re wondering if the titular Ancients help belly these issues, you’ll be sadly disappointed to know that while they are truly epic in appearance and worth witnessing in AR, they don’t do all that much once spawned. You can make them use one special ability every so often, but hit detection for special abilities across all units seems spotty at best. Your best bet is spawning them near enemies, using their ability, then quietly hoping they keep aiding you before wandering off. In the end, they’re just another element that makes you wish a more compelling gameplay experience was explored.
The setting here has the potential for a great fantasy adventure, but it definitely needs some retooling. Being able to directly control the Ancients properly or perhaps a spin-off in a different genre than real-time strategy might be best. What we’re left with here is a premium priced game that’s neat for an hour or two, but swiftly outwears its welcome. Immersion have promised new gameplay modes in the future, but with so little to engage with, it may be better to just start The Ancients over.
|Fantastic demonstration how augmented reality could shift the design philosophy on mobile. Good narrative presentation, and decent sound design.||Lack of clear direction, currently limited game modes, and imprecise controls hold the actual game back from being little more than average.|