Review of the King of the Seas | PC player

You want to be a pirate – you’re just a human, after all – and this game has you covered. Defending yourself from the navy, attacking innocent people for loot, sailing around doing nothing more than looking for trouble… everything is present and correct. You do not to have being horrible on the high seas, but when it’s as fun as it is here, it’s damn tempting.

While there is a story, it isn’t particularly deep and could be summed up comfortably in a tweet (including spoilers). The important thing is that you go from being a member of the nautical monarchy to an outlaw pirate with fun speed, and terrorizing strangers is more fun than living a life of luxury never could have been. Exploring (and blowing up) this world in your ship is extremely satisfying, which is just as good; you never set foot on dry land.

You never really “step foot” anywhere. Ports are little more than a collection of menus for buying, selling, and collecting quests. Other than these, the boat is essentially your avatar, controlled with a choice of three camera zoom levels. The two furthest away feel like you’re looking down and playing with your own personal pirate playset.

(Image credit: Team17)

The controls are nice and simple. Speed ​​is dictated by how many of your three sails you’ve deployed (as well as the wind direction), which means picking up a few for tight turns, which can come in handy during combat. Speaking of which, to begin with, you rely on your guns. Shooting to the left or right of your ship, positioning and knowing the range is important. Just like the calendar; they take a few seconds to recharge each time. You can even focus on ruining a ship’s sails first, drastically reducing its speed. Fortunately, this is a game with little interest in realism.

There are a large number of upgrades to find, loot, and purchase. Aspects such as hull, crew and sails will affect attack and defense stats; but after a little while you will also start to encounter special abilities, most of which are magical. It seems unlikely that any real pirates would have used flamethrowers and magical energy beams, or summon giant tentacles to attack their enemies from the sea, but I bet they would have liked to. In King of Seas, most of these abilities allow you to attack ships from a significant distance.

While even upgraded cannons have a surprisingly limited range, most of these abilities – explained happily as magic, if they have an explanation at all – tend to have double or more range, and sometimes even don’t even require to aim. They work with a longer cooldown than your cannons, so they cannot be spammed, but have unlimited uses. Combat therefore becomes a case of degrading the health of the ship with cannons, while carefully selecting and timing your most powerful attacks between shots.

(Image credit: Team17)

It doesn’t matter how or why the conflict begins – sometimes I attack merchants and treasures for loot, sometimes navy ships spot me and start attacking, once I’ve murdered a bunch of tourists just because a woman named Karen asked me – it follows the same general pattern. You will both be doing slow nautical donuts in an effort to stay out of each other’s reach and angle of attack, attacking at every opportunity. This makes your navigation skills important and it is very satisfying to avoid a barrage of cannonballs. Fortunately, enemy ships almost never have special abilities, so once you have a decent ship with a range of attacks (it can take a few hours) you will have a significant advantage. Not enough to be invincible, but enough to enjoy a mighty trip.

The decision to severely limit the enemy’s use of these additional capabilities was a wise one; it keeps player progression meaningful by allowing your ship to become noticeably more powerful, and to be fair, the widespread use of AI magic would almost certainly lead to frustrating and regular deaths. If you do want a big challenge, the higher difficulty offers permanent death; but I play on the recommended mode which even allows you to keep all your cargo on death as it saves the frustration.

You might notice that so far I haven’t really covered what the game is actually asking you to do. That’s because, to be honest, it’s not that good at that level. After what is essentially an extended tutorial, the story progresses by generally sending you back and forth with simple objectives until it hopes you run into ships of a much higher level than your own. . Worse, about three quarters of the way, it introduces the idea of ​​conquering ports. It is a horrible idea for several reasons.

(Image credit: Team17)

Firstly, attacking the gun locations that defend these harbors just isn’t much fun. None of your special abilities (at least none that I’ve encountered in my 15 hours of play) can touch them, although it would make sense for them to do so. This means that conquering the ports involves a little more than circling the gun slots, slowly reducing their health, until you or them explode.

King of Seas offers a nautical sandbox that fulfills my pirate wishes

Second, while you may forget about these sequences after you’ve completed three of them (aside from the penultimate fight), the majority of the ports you discover aren’t saved to your map. Honestly, I don’t know if this is a bug or a feature. This makes finding them more haphazard than planning. It also means that when a character started notifying me when certain ports were under attack, I always ignored them because I had no idea where they were.

Despite the obvious flaws in pushing the player, I enjoyed almost every minute of the game. Of course, after about eight hours, I started wishing for a more structured experience that I could tap into and out of, but that doesn’t change a thing. the fact that it is a very good sandbox to play. making your own fun means King of Seas won’t appeal to people looking for consistent direction. For my part, I love that I can be as bad a pirate or as moral a pirate as I love him. Especially since nobody remembers my naughty behavior for very long.

(Image credit: Team17)

In addition to ships to randomly attack (or be attacked by), there are crates and rafts to pick up, wrecks to loot, fish to catch (eventually), and a trading system that can often be more profitable than the piracy. Each port has one item that it produces a lot and one item that it produces very little. So, for example, a port may pay relatively little for rubies, but you can kill by selling timber to them. You can get rich by being a capitalist monster if you want to.

There are a lot of side quests to check out, but they very quickly fall into one of the few categories (mostly delivery, escort, or search and destroy). While disappointing, I never had time to be bothered by repetition, as I largely ignored these quests. King of Seas offers a nautical sandbox that fulfills my pirate wishes, allowing me to do whatever I want at the pace I want, and that was the real treasure from the start.

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