King of Seas Preview – PC (Steam)

3DClouds’ latest release has some clear inspirations, but its fun characters and the potential of its gameplay have me eager to see more of what it has to offer.

Just by looking at King of Seas, you might take it for a simple top-down Sea of Thieves clone, what with the similar logo, title and graphical style, but the gameplay really doesn’t share much with Rare’s pirate title and the similarities are pretty shallow, it’s single-player only, for one. Upon playing the game, you’ll find that it’s actually much closer to a hybrid of Sid Meier’s Pirates! and Diablo and I’ve very much enjoyed the little slice of the game I currently have access too.

The preview build I have at the time of writing is limited to a 45-minute timer (although it pauses during menus and cutscenes, so I could get closer to double that in terms of raw gameplay), and when it’s up, I’d be shown what I managed to achieve in that time, and then kicked back to the main menu where I could start from scratch. It would let me skip the tutorial, meaning I’d get a little extra time on further plays. The tutorial itself is pretty basic, quickly introducing you to the world and story while also showing you how to play with pop up control guides and some dialogue boxes from in-game characters and provides a pretty good overview of what you’ll be doing in your quest.

The bulk of the gameplay is sailing across the randomly generated map engaging in combat with other ships, plundering treasure from wrecks and islands and going port to port trading in items you’ve earned from quests, combat and treasure hunting. You’ll even gain a bounty the more misdeeds you perform, with pirate hunters and the Royal Navy out for your blood. Controlling your ship is pretty simple. On a gamepad, your bumpers adjust your speed, the analogue stick steers, that face buttons activate different skills and the triggers fire of your cannons. It can be a bit tricky initially to use the correct trigger to fire your cannons at the side you want, but it doesn’t take long to adjust. Skills can be purchased at a port or discovered in treasure or as quest rewards. They act as extra combat opportunities, but using one triggers all of their cooldowns, giving a little bit of a tactical element to choosing the right skill at the right time. There are also several ship types available in the game, although they’re quite expensive, so I only managed to try the starting ship, a nimble thing although it lacks a little in firepower. You can make up for this however with ship upgrades that are new parts with tiered levels that boost your stats, and even changes the look of your ship.

Further RPG elements include a levelling system, that post level 10 gives you points to spend in one of 3 talent trees. These upgrades seem pretty basic, however, with most just applying a percentage increase to a stat. There are also side-quests with 3 levels of difficulty that you can pick up at any tavern. These seem to be standard delivery or combat quests, but they do reward you with gold and ship parts/cargo, and because of my limited time it’s currently unclear to me how much more variety there could be in them. The main questline does seem quite interesting to me, though. It gets going pretty quickly and is filled with an interesting cast of characters. While the games visuals might look close to Sea of Thieves, its character designs are very distinct and are great. You get an instant feel for the vibe of the characters represented, and while they’re not animated, they have multiple poses that combined with the storybook-esque look, give them a lot of charm. I’m hoping more of them show up as the game’s story continues.

Because of the preview build’s short time constraints, I can’t be sure how much variety there is in the game’s full release, but I will say I was disappointed that I couldn’t continue my adventure. Definitely don’t write the game off as a clone that’s banking off another game’s successes, it’s very much got its own identity and I’m excited to dive into the full release.

King of Seas is coming soon to Steam, Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One.

Tom Woods is a Games Journalist for ICUGamer.com. Follow Tom via Twitter @T_Woods93

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