During Rezzed I had the chance to check out Man O’ War: Corsair, a naval game set in the distant past of the Warhammer Fantasy universe. It puts you in control of a crew as you sail the treacherous seas looking for trouble, fortune and enough money to retire and buy that house of your dreams…and try not to die a horrible death in the process.

When I launched the game and after the first long loading screen—which strangely enough was quite short when I played the game a second time—I got the chance to create my character, the captain of the ship. As the game is still in Early Access there weren’t many options available, so “default guy” it was! The crew was the same no matter what I did and that’s ok, as beyond your second in command they’re just a band of disposable nobodies you hire in bulk at port.

Man O' War: Corsair
I went with normal, seems like the right idea!

My first job was to take out some Orcish ships, which I did with complete prejudice. This taught me the basics of naval warfare though I wished it let me skip it altogether, particularly since it slowly doles out the basic mechanics, popping elements of your UI one by one. It works the first time around, but after Rezzed, I wanted the game to hand me the reins and just go to town on these greenskins.

A short but sweet battle later, including a friendly scuffle with a Megalodon, a massive shark that makes the Jaws one look like a nice puppy, and we get to port, ready to sell what we have, buy more product, repair the ship, hire some gunmen and just set sail again. I decide to take a long courier mission, to see how long it takes to sail between two points.

Man O' War: Corsair
Inquisition from 40K? Maybe not, but it reminded me too much to not use it!

The answer is “a long time.” The distances in the game are massive and even with the ability to speed it all up, you can still spend a long time just watching your ship go amidst the waves. The sea where I sailed was stormy and very choppy and it let me see some interesting graphical glitches, such as the waves bobbing up and down so much I often sailed across land. The sea ‘buckles’ wildly in Man O’ War.

As of right now, in the current state of the game, there’s really not much to find in the sea, with barely any NPCs to find and fight and no monsters to speak of. I went searching for a sea monster, where the map told me they’d be but even after making myself a nice juicy piece of bait—only missing giant bacon hanging off the prow—nothing bit. I was slightly disappointed as I remembered the developer mentioning the megalodon was the smallest of the monsters in Man O’ War.

Man O' War: Corsair
The Lawgeeker sails!

But while the trip was long and admittedly tedious, the next port opened some interesting possibilities. I received another long courier job but first they asked me to take out a wizard on a ship causing an insane fog. I sailed to the ship, brought my vessel side by side with it, boarded and took the spellcaster out.

The boarding showed me the biggest flaw in the current version of the game: on-screen information. The text telling you to press space to dock or bard is minuscule and pearly white, sometimes making it difficult to see against foggy backgrounds. Up the font size and add a different colour to that to make things easier to see please.

Man O' War: Corsair
Orcs!!

Speaking of boarding, if you do it and take out the enemies you can take their booty, but if you butcher them with your ship’s cannons, you get nothing. While it may be a tad unrealistic, it would do wonders if players could get a tiny morsel of the enemy’s cargo if you sink them, with boarding having the bigger rewards for the bigger risks—not that it’s very risky at the moment with your forces decimating anything they see.

I loved the music and visuals. The visual style reminds me of the tabletop figures for Warhammer Fantasy, as the characters look slightly wooden, which I can dig. The soundtrack is outstanding, particularly the different battle themes, they’re intense and make you feel like in a high-seas thriller or a pirate adventure.

But while I like the visual style, I’d love to see some location specific damage on your ship in future versions of the game. The game tracks damage to specific parts of your ship, so visible location damage would be amazing! Also, some negative effects depending on this location-specific damage could do wonders, but perhaps for a harder difficulty setting.

Man O’ War is shaping up nicely and I can’t wait to see what’s coming into the game next. I want more missions, perhaps some fast-travel between known ports to make some of those long travels a bit more bearable, and most importantly I want a bit more story on the world. The game works a lot like a “choose your adventure” but a central narrative would do wonders to drive the gameplay, particularly if it leads to facing Chaos forces. In this era, the bad guys are starting to invade the world, so seeing evidence of that would be amazing!

As the game comes along in Early Access, I’ll probably come back and cover it a bit more!

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