I suppose it's my fault that I got burned with this one, since I ignored the huge amounts of negative reviews and decided to give this game a shot anyways. Of course this glorified M&B mod was released right at the height of both my Warband and pirate (One Piece, Black Sails) addictions, as if they knew the time was just right to reel in one more sucker desperate for a fresh naval combat game. Considering the developers are utilising such a tried-and-true engine, how bad could it be, right?
Well, for starters, it's clunky as all hell. The game makes very little effort to explain anything to you, apparently expecting you to already be familiar with the M&B controls. All well and good, since most of us probably are, except that they add a boatload (kek) of new concepts and leave you to sort them out for yourself. The most annoying issue I've had so far is trying to figure out how to operate the menus, specifically those related to trading goods and buying ships. Each screen is jumbled with numbers and data that probably won't make much initial sense.
Somehow, they made gameplay ripped almost completly from an existing title feel comparatively sluggish. The swashbuckling works, I guess, but it feels much more sloppy and unresponsive that what I've come to expect from any character that makes those familiar exaggerated grunting noises. Guns are handled with some degree of historical accuracy, I guess, since most require a significant reloading time. Ironically, this left me wanting to toss my flintlock aside for a good old-fashioned bow and arrows.
Naval battles are a complete joke; just hold down the spacebar and hope you sink the enemy first. There's probably more strategy once you get a bigger fleet, but even then, it's usually more fun and less risky to just pull up alongside your enemy and rally a boarding party. Of course, instead of using the convenient method of automatically obtaining the cargo from sunken vessels, you're required to turn around and touch overy single tiny crate with your hull, provided you don't want it to just drift uselessly. Missed a piece? Make another pass.
The worst part, for me at least, is how non-immersive the whole experience feels. Taverns are one-room log shacks crammed with idle nps you can't talk to, with the occasional merchant. Quests are boring and unimaginative; 'kill this many enemies, deliver this many units of cargo.' I don't give a damn about my allies, my crew, my ship, or, as hard as I tried, my own captain.
Initially, though, I still had hope. It's just gotten out of early access, maybe there were some unexpected kinks they need to work out, or features that got delayed for fine tuning. With their most recent announcement, though, the developers have stated, rather directly, in fact, than anyone who expects anything more out of this little project is kidding themselves. I didn't play in the early access, but apparently, those who did. as well as those who supported the kickstarter, were promised a massive assortment of features that have officially been canned, most notably multiplayer support.
In conclusion, my worst-case scenario turned out to be the right one: this is a shamless cash-grab from a gaggle of inexperienced, unprofessional modders. It doesn't really even feel right to call them developers. Maybe they got in over their heads with this. Fine! That's happened to all of us! We all know how it feels to overcommit to a project that's simply out of our league, and fail spectacularly. The difference is, anyone who has any scruples wouldn't ask hundreds of people to fund their little experiment, promising to develop specific content, unless they were positive of their ability to actually create said content.
To make an analogy, this feels like an ambitious young kid, fresh out of school, wanting to start up his own bakery. So he gets his friends, family, neighbors, his whole community to pitch in and help him fund a location of his own. Unfortunately, the most this boy has ever made in his life is some Krusteaz pancakes. But he was sure, so sure, that he could create great food if he really tried, that he promised all of his supporters as many delicious treats as they could eat for helping him out. When the time came, lo and behold, the product was far below expectations in quality, quantity, and variety. Two days later, the guy closes his bakery down. But, meh, no skin off his nose, right?