King Of Seas Preview: A Swashbuckling Adventure
For 3DClouds, a developer that established themselves with racing games like Race With Ryan and Xenon Racer, a pirate-themed action-RPG is quite a departure. But that's exactly what the studio is currently working on.
Set in a procedurally-generated oceanic world, King of Seas is currently set to launch in early 2021, and in the run-up to its release, I was recently offered access to a preview build of the game. Though the gameplay demo was limited to 45 minutes, my initial impressions are certainly positive.
The tale for King of Seas begins with a mysterious death. Playing as an heir to one of the game's kingdoms, you find yourself inexplicably blamed for an assassination and quickly come under a barrage of cannon fire from the Royal Navy. As your ship sinks to Davey Jones' Locker — and the Royal Navy leaves you for dead — you're saved by the pirates of Eagle’s Den, led by Captain D. Morgen, who takes you on as a fresh recruit.
This all unfolds across a mission-based structure, where you aid your new allies as Captain Morgen investigates the truth behind the assassination.
There are five difficulty options to choose from in King of Seas, all of which tweak stats such as health, bounty bonuses from completing missions, and damage output. Higher difficulties up the challenge further with modifiers such as increasing the frequency of hostile spawns, destroying and removing your inventory when your ship sinks, and adding in permadeath.
From transporting materials between trading outposts to taking down enemy ships, primary missions and side missions offer up some decent variety and do a good job of introducing you to the game's mechanics, at least this early on. Since King of Seas' world is procedurally generated, you’ll never explore the same layout twice across these missions; the sea is ever-changing, remolding key locations with it.
Though the short demo kept me from seeing too much of the game, exploration, in general, was enjoyable. You can find cargo adrift at sea that gives you gold, which is used to repair your ship, and you can loot shipwrecks for new items, giving you materials such as wood for building new ship parts.
Every ship has three indicator bars, one each for its hull, its sails, and its crew. These bars represent your ship's overall health, speed, and cannon cooldown times respectively.
As expected, if your hull meter depletes, your ship will sink; it will be game over. And since ships cannot be repaired until you leave combat — once they’ve been anchored at Eagle’s Den — each battle becomes a strategic mix of maneuvering and attacking.
Moving your ship across the open water means, of course, raising the sails, and you're able to hoist three at once for maximum speed. Wind speed factors into movement, and though going against it doesn't impede you much, sailing quickly with it makes turning a lot trickier (so handle this with care, unless you fancy crashing into the nearby island!).
Ships are armed with two sets of cannons on their port and starboard sides, and every attack has a cooldown; you can’t spam attacks on enemy vessels. Instead, winning engagements requires precision and a bit of patience. Combat is a bit slow in places, but it is satisfying to eventually take down your foe through methodical play.
After the game's initial missions, you can begin unlocking skills, which are assignable at will, and swapping ships via the carpenter at Eagle's Den.
Skills, for example, include giving your First Officer the ability to perform a flamethrower attack, which launches from the front of the ship, inflicting heavy damage on enemies.
Swapping ships isn't just cosmetic, as all ships have different stats for top speed, cargo space, and the number of cannonballs they can volley at opposing vessels. If you've found a ship you like, though, existing ships can also be upgraded with gold, increasing aspects like cannon firepower and crew capacity.
That’s not all you can find at Eagle’s Den, though. One option, called “cove,” was unavailable in this preview build, so we can’t detail what that involves just yet, but there’s a bank for storing your cargo, as well as a marketplace to sell and purchase items. Should any crew members fall in battle, a tavern is also available for recruiting new pirates to the cause.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with King of Seas, but I found it hard to get pulled into its world completely, likely because of the short session length, so I'll have to hold my final verdict on that until I see more.
Though the combat was slower than I expected, King of Seas still proves quite entertaining, if never truly thrilling. Regardless, I’m certainly curious to see how this story unfolds.
So far, 3DClouds have brought us a well-crafted game with significant potential, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it next year.