At some point in time, everyone has wanted to be a pirate. It’s a very attractive profession, is it not? What with all the fluffy open chested shirts, golden boxes of treasures, sailing the open seas and nicking stuff, it’s a vocation that looks a lot of fun. Most recently in the gaming world, the pirate life has been a successful one, with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Sea of Thieves providing a bit of an insight. Now though Atlas has come along and it too wants you to taste some rum, put a parrot on your shoulder and head out as captain of all you can see and plunder.
Studio Wildcard has already proved that they can do big open world, survival MMO sandbox games, with the hugely popular ARK: Survival Evolved. That game has enticed gamers into its creation building and dinosaur riding adventure playground and is home to countless memories and adventures. Can they do the same thing with a pirate MMO? Well, from what I’ve seen from Atlas in Xbox Game Preview, I think they probably can.
They have quite obviously learnt from their previous incarnation and have tried to make something a little more ambitious in scope this time around, first putting Atlas into Preview ahead of a full launch looming further down the line. At this time the game comes with crossplay across PC and you will be delving in to find yourself on a map much larger than that of ARK (over 1200 more times bigger, the developers have promised). But the biggest news scoop is the opportunity to have a shared world with around 40,000 other players at the same time when released fully. I can see the main plans to possibly envisioning something like Eve Online, where the actions of all the players govern how the game shapes itself in the future, with all its factions, wars and political scheming.
The moment Atlas loads up it will remind you of ARK, what with the tone, character, and world customisation. You just have two servers to choose from and it’s the PvP server where the developers are hoping to create a whole new universe. You start the game with a tutorial of sorts, set in a small freeport town, and then you’re off and running so to speak, as you attempt to get a handle on the survival roots, where you’ll be chopping down trees, foraging for materials and dealing with your thirst and hunger levels. Building a home on land is a thing you can still do of course, but in reality it’s all about the call of the sea…
Much like the building mechanics in ARK you can build and customise your ship as you so wish. From the smallest little schooner to a big galleon you can – with the right resources – build the ultimate fighting ship or fancy boat about town. It’s up to you what you do, and when you do it really. You can also handle all the running of the ships yourself; firing cannons, putting up sails, and designing the colour scheme for your luxury captain’s cabin. If you’re not the hands-on type, hiring a crew of NPCs to do the grunt work for you is possible, as long as you keep them fed and well paid. Atlas also promises huge battles, letting you develop deep strategies and partake in frantic manoeuvring. My brief time on the ships was exciting, and I can’t wait to see what happens when the server is full of warring vessels.
At the end of the day, Atlas is all about making your own stories and building your own universe with others, rather than partaking in loads of quests and campaigns. That being said, the developers have promised a main quest that will involve travelling around the entire map, collecting artefacts and taking in huge sea battles with demons. Atlas won’t end there though as players will create content and narratives to play on for endless numbers of hours; expect loads of different features in the future, finding secrets dotted around, and new areas to explore. The possibilities seem to have no limit at the moment.
Atlas on Xbox One is available right now via the Xbox Store and comes with huge promise; the Game Preview rundown is just the beginning of a world which will let players create and forge their own path. Its ambition and scope is something that looks very exciting, and I for one will be hugely interested to see how well it all runs when it is released fully.
Massive thanks to Studio Wildcard for the game code, allowing us to check out Atlas via Xbox Game Preview. Keep an eye out for our review as and when full launch occurs.