Sailing the Seas in Man-O-War: Corsair Preview

Apr 20, 2016

I’m not much of a “pirate” guy, but Man-O-War Corsair is not your typical pirate game. For instance, it’s based upon the dark fantasy lore of Warhammer. This instantly made the game appeal to me. Within the tutorial mission I was killing orc pirates with giant drills on the front of their vessels, and being bombarded by giant boulders. After learning the ropes of ship combat, I’m attacked by a Megalodon  which was a giant prehistoric shark.  It’s all so ridiculously fabulous, and I mean that in the best of ways. If you’re looking for a historical pirate adventure, you’ll want to look elsewhere.


We are going to need a bigger boat

At start I was prompted through character creations which included customization of my captain and ship.  Features such as picking my race were restricted to human due to the early build I was playing, but I can already see the potential. It’s simply, but being able to name your ship and pick the sail  gave me ownership over my adventure.  Choosing my non-lore friendly name, Captain Deadpool heads out on the Chimichanga.

Navigation is pretty simple. Players move their ships into the direction they wish to go and push forward. The only limiting factor to travel is wind. Traveling with the wind will have your ship zipping along to port in no time, however if you have the misfortune of sailing into the wind you’re pretty much dead in the water. I understand the reasons for this mechanic, but found it extremely frustrating when my objective happened to be sailing against the wind.  Wind changes over time, but it’s fairly dull cruising at the speed of a water snail waiting for it to change.  Another complaint, is that travel can be a bit dull in general even if you are sailing with the wind. At this time there is no fast travel so all seas must be traveled manually. At times I was on open sea for five minutes at a time traveling between locations of interest. Without shoreline as a reference, it can feel maddening and static. I suppose it captures the feel of original sea travel, but a thrilling experience it is not. Several times I got up to get coffee while my ship sailed off to port and that’s  with the option to double the gamespeed.


Are we there yet?

The game structure seems pretty open. I was never really told  to do certain task aside from the first tutorial. When docked at port, players can pick from missions on a community board. Missions range from races with other ships, escorting transports, bounties against pirates, or delivering needed supplies. I got the impression there were some missions that were meant to have an overarching story to them, but players can freely chose to ignore them.   Missions can provide income to help fund your adventure, but trading is also viable career option. Each port has supplies for sale or will be willing to accept goods from the players. Each port seems to have different economies so the observant player will pick out where to buy their supplies low and where to sell high for the most profit.  I almost broke out a notebook to catalog different markets. It’s a simple, but fun way to play the game.

Boarding combat can be played as the captain or a hired sniper in the Crow's Nest

Boarding combat can be played as the captain or a hired sniper in the Crow’s Nest

Supplies are always cheapest when you plunder them from other vessels, which is also a powerful motivation in making a living. Within the game there are always pirate hotspots which players can patrol to take out enemy ships, but betraying friendly ships on the open seas is always an option too.   When scouting for potential targets observing a ship via spy glass reveals the number of crew on a ship and if it holds any cargo as well as the type of ship and any damaged areas on the ship.  Players can plunder ships in two ways sinking them or capturing them. Sinking a ship is simple enough and just requires a player to pelt them with cannon fire until they descend to the deep.  To capture a ship players need to navigate beside the enemy ship which will trigger the option to board the ship.  Once triggered both ships violently collide and the player must kill the crew of the other ship. These moments feel frantic and you can accidentally kill your own crew with friendly fire which I did all the time. The crew of the Chimichanga should have know better with a captain named Deadpool.  At times it will be more advantageous to board a ship for capture as oppose to taking it down via cannon fire.  Low crews make for an easy boarding fight or certain ship types can easily outgun you in an open sea battle making it better to get in close and capture.  Combat is always exhilarating, but can be tricky and is always a risk. Direction of the wind, type of ship, and even the race of the ship all need to be considered.  Playing badly can sink you quite fast even at the very beginning of a captain’s campaign.


A cold day at port

Despite the early build I played, I see huge potential for the game. With the chance of being different races, and unlocking different ships each playthrough could be vastly different. The build even hinted at a level up system that hadn’t been fully implemented yet. Man-O-War Corsair seems like it could be a pirate RPG you can get lost in. I’ll admit it can be a slow at times which might not be for everyone, but Captain Deadpool sure enjoyed himself and is looking forward to setting sail again in the near future.

Man-O-War: Corsair is currently available on Steam Early Access Check it out here