Wednesday, 13 April 2016 00:00

Man O' War: Corsair Early Access Review

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Man O’ War: Corsair drops you right into the thick of a naval ship on ship battle pitting men against orcs.

Cannons roar. Wooden splinters explode in all directions. A wave crashes onto the deck when, suddenly, an orc ship slams into your boat. Orcs start to board your ship. You leave your ship to your second in command, pull out your musket and start blasting away while your crew defends themselves with swords and pistols. You fend off the evil greenskins and sink their ship. Hooray! You leave for a port to repair your ship when, out of the literal blue, a megalodon (a massive shark) pounds into your starboard and snatches a crew member into its giant mouth filled with razor sharp teeth. You signal your sharpshooter; he takes careful aim and fires his long rifle into the eyes of the sea beast. It retreats momentarily, but circles around. You aim your starboard cannons and fire. A hail of cannon balls pierce the monster and it sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

This signaled the end of the tutorial for Man O’ War: Corsair. As exciting as it is, it’s still just in Early Access…and it shows, as there is a lot missing. You cannot choose the nationality of your captain, there is no quest log to keep track of your quests, and you cannot level up your captain and choose his or her skills; however, even with these important aspects of the game missing, Man O’ War is a blast to play.

Man O’ War is a third person strategy action adventure game set in the Warhammer Fantasy world. You will spend most of the time as the captain, but you also the ability to buy a sharp shooter who hangs up on the bow of your ship and picks off enemy boarders and sea monsters alike. The third person view is a little finicky, especially for the captain, as your giant sails and the rest of your ship sometimes get in the way of seeing what is up ahead. In addition, the shooting mechanics (for the humans) is also not as polished, but the naval combat more than makes up for this.

As it is designed now, you start the game by choosing your captain and determining the difficulty based on your captain’s previous life: Rich (Easy), Regular (Normal), and Poor (Hard).

After the brief, albeit hectic tutorial, you are on your own and are able to sail around the Warhammer world in which the game is set. There are ports which house taverns, where you can get the local gossip and buy treasure maps from drunks, Notice boards, where you can get quests of all manner, Shipyards, where you can repair, refit, or buy a new boat, and finally Markets, where you can buy and sell various goods.

As mentioned before, the quest log is not up and running, which makes it fairly difficult to keep track of where you need to go and what you need to do. I got lost a few times following a giant exclamation mark which I assumed was the current quest I was on. I was wrong, and it ended up being something totally unrelated. As it is now, there’s also no way to tell how easy or difficult a quest or an enemy is other than by their size, i.e.: big equals stay away.

For everything that does not work yet, there are plenty of aspects that make Man O’ War a hell of a lot of fun to play. For example, I picked up a few quests at a port. One was a race and the other was helping these refugees who had been fleeing from a plagued city. I was greedy and wanted to knock out two birds with one stone, so I left port and was racing another boat when all of a sudden the refugees I had taken aboard turned in to zombies. My crew and I mightily clashed and shot and stabbed the plague-ridden corpses until they were defeated – just in time to win my race.

You would have thought that I had learned my lesson, but I immediately took on another round of quests which led me and my crew to an area known as Mannann’s - a rocky, foggy, and monster infested area. I was tasked to find out where the fog was coming from and also to hunt down and sink a rogue ship. Neither of those things happened, because I stupidly crashed into the rocks and was attacked by both the rogue pirate ship and a giant narwhal-looking sea monster (aptly named “behemoth”.


The Verdict

As a Warhammer fanatic (I have both Fantasy and 40k miniatures), Man O’ War: Corsair is shaping up to be a fantastic sandbox-esque game. Even with it being in early access and missing a few important aspects, it is a straight up roller coaster ride to play.

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Christophe Parker

Christophe Blake Parker is a writer, actor, and teacher living in Oakland, CA. His first real gaming experience was with Everquest and Games Workshop tabletop games such as Warhammer and Warhammer 40k. He is thinking of starting a kickstarter campaign to fund his Steam Wishlist.