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Avast Ye Gamers! Pirate life is an adventurous role that we seldom come across in the gaming world. Prior to Rare’s widely successful launch of Sea Of Thieves, only a handful of titles through the years have offered anything remotely close to a proper pirate simulator. King Of Seas, the latest from developer 3DClouds, delivers an open-world sandbox experience. It merges action and RPG elements to form an exciting experience of the devious and daring swashbuckler lifestyle. Setting sails across a beautiful, procedurally-generated open-world, King of Seas offers a plethora of dangers and wonders waiting to be discovered which I thoroughly enjoyed exploring and engaging with for the most part. Though I did begin to find myself fatigued with a repetitious gameplay loop just a few hours in, the addictive progression and customization systems in place still managed to keep me coming back for more.
Long ago, a ferocious war erupted between the Navy armies and bloodthirsty pirates. The battle itself stretched on for an extensive amount of time, eventually resulting in the defeat of the cutthroat bandits. Any that survived were forced to retreat, and fled to the borders. A impenetrable stronghold was then constructed by the Navy, proclaiming it to be “The Kingdom of The Seven Seas’, and promising peace among the open waters. Centuries later, the mysterious death of a king leaves his own child seeking refuge, after being framed for committing the tragic crime. Following a narrow escape from an attempted execution, the surviving heir to the throne is rescued by pirates and deemed as one of their own. Players are then introduced to their new lifestyle as a male or female buccaneer, with the goal of one day infiltrating the colossal fortress and clearing their name of the wrongful accusation.
Steering away from a more realistic approach, the graphic and art design in King Of Seas is very colorful, and quite similar to Sea Of Thieves. Both the sights and sounds of blue crashing waves across the vast oceans were almost soothing, especially with the camera zoomed in on your ship. Lush, exotic locations homing unique landmarks and skull shaped rock formations were plenty, as well as populated ship ports and heavily guarded fortifications across the map. Regardless of where you explore, there’s a ton of smaller characteristics painted throughout that are worth seeking out and admiring.
Navigating the open seas could be a more relaxed and slow paced experience at times, but that’s not to say there’s any shortage of potential threats lurking about either. The in-game world is quite dynamic and very much alive, flourishing in many aspects. Smugglers, traders, and the odd sea creature are just a few of its inhabitants, and a fair few are rather unhappy to see pirates in neutral waters, wasting no time attempting to send you off to Davey Jones’ Locker. Heavy rainstorms and cracks of lightning can make travels challenging as well.
Aside from dangerous encounters, the map is riddled with plenty of sights and items to discover. Shipwrecks, floating crates, and other treasures always led to rewards and level experience. Almost all locations are veiled in a dense fog as well, which can only be revealed on the pop up map by tracking down cartographers.The main questline does play out as a tutorial in its earlier sections, easing players into the numerous mechanics at hand, and the open world aspect as well.
Spawning with nothing more than a rugged old sloop, you’ll be immediately tasked with learning the basics of operating and navigating your ship, which are quite accessible thanks to a simplistic button mapping. The HUD overlay displays a compass with wind speed and direction, as well as an icon showing how many sails are raised at once. Keep in mind that the wind is your friend, and can determine the outcome of escaping a deadly encounter quickly. The combat controls are fairly straight forward as well, having dedicated buttons (which are visibly mapped on the screen at all times) for blasting your cannons and activating equipped abilities. I found some of the menu navigating to be stiff with a gamepad, and the odd action unresponsive when interacting, but these minor issues really only occurred a handful of times during my voyages.
Now, it wouldn’t be a classic pirate adventure without the thrill of a fight and the sound of cannons roaring. The tactical approach with the naval combat made for some challenging encounters, especially when facing off with more than one ship at a time. Enemy level, wind speed, and ship handling are by far the most crucial factors when it comes to facing off against other foes. I found the majority of one on one engagements to be fairly effortless, quickly turning into nothing more than a exchange of shots between cooldowns. You aren’t alone on the seas however, and there’s always a chance other ships passing by will join in on the battle, quickly ramping up the difficulty.
Ship ports scattered across the map serve as both a safe haven and an activity hub in King Of Seas, where players will find access to numerous sub options available during their adventures, including an overly addictive ship customization system. This was without question my most favorite aspect of the game. Upgrading your trusty vessel is an absolute necessity if you plan on surviving in this ruthless world. Interacting with the Carpenter presents a very simplified ‘click and place’ wheel that allows you to alter the parts that aid in developing your soon to be war machine. Numerous stat changes, abilities, and physical properties all contribute to the deep dive structures that will easily pull players in for the long run.
Additional ships eventually become become available as well, differing in size and handling. A talent tree is also present, allowing skill point allocation into perks that will have a permanent effect on how your ship operates. A ton of unique abilities are obtainable too that will boost your survival chances too, ranging from vicious shark attacks waiting your command, to eerie and long forgotten voodoo spells. I spent a ridiculous and enjoyable amount of hours just experimenting with the builds alone, constantly swapping out any new parts I obtained.
Any resources or unwanted loot you come across can be traded at the port markets. Price fluctuations do exist between each location regarding specific items, though I never really noticed a steep difference between the noted selling prices when compared to other ports. Your ships hull isn’t a bottomless pit either, and can only carry so much treasure at one time. Make haste to the nearest safe zone to unload your booty, or take a huge risk by sailing across the map to cash in for a few extra bucks; the choice is completely up to you.
There’s no shortage of side missions either, and players will eventually have no choice but to entertain a few of these shallow tasks. Taverns are home to an array of escort and resource fetching assignments that just never really ignited any excitement for me. Collecting absurd amounts of wood or medicine for a delivery, only to receive a smaller portion of wealth in return was certainly a bit of a turnoff, and lacked in any real story structure as well. Thankfully, the majority of activities in King Of Seas do reward players for their actions regardless of what they choose to do, which eased the burden of a heavy grind when it came to completing them.
King Of Seas doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to its core mechanics, but still delivers an enjoyable and fresh adventure with a concept we don’t see developers tackle very often. The gameplay loop shows its repetitive side quite early on, but between the overly impressive customization system and engaging naval warfare, I had a hard time putting it down. Nonetheless, it’s still an open world experience at heart, offering plenty of sights and experiences to take in. The game packs a ton of replay value as well. Each new playthrough delivers a new procedurally generated map with the option of cranking up the difficulty, which can alter reward payouts and penalties if your ship is sunk. Given the fair price point, I’d say it’s time to raise anchor and embark on your adventure, pirate. King Of Seas will be available across major all gaming platforms on May 25th.