Whilst the pirating world holds their breath for Skull and Bones, a new pirating game has appeared on the horizon. This one also offers general pirating, looting, swashbuckling cooperative play, but in a much more condensed package.
Plunder Panic is a 2D multiplayer game for up to twelve players locally and online. In teams of up to six pirates you must overcome the opposition. The cool thing about Plunder Panic is that there are multiple ways to win a game: You can overthrow the opposing captain by killing him so many times, collect the most gold, hit the enemy ship with three cannons or row a boat full of explosives into it.
Captains come pre-equipped with a sword, whereas crewmates need to buy one in exchange for cash. However, with a sword equipped, it needs to be sheathed if you are wanting to pick anything else up, or row the explosives boat. There can be a bit of tactical thinking to Plunder Panic, but only when you have restricted the numbers of players.
In a full 6v6 match, all these things and more will be happening on the map at the same time. Plunder Panic shows you all the action on screen at once so you can see what is happening all around you. At least, that’s the logic behind it. Plunder Panic is chaotic to say the least. It is nigh impossible to keep an eye on all forms of victory at once; your best bet is to focus on one and hope your team is competent enough to deliver on the rest.
The good thing about Plunder Panic is that the AI is pretty good if you don’t have a full team. The bad thing about Plunder Panic is that the AI is pretty good if you don’t have real-life opponents to face off against. You can play against AI in local and online matches. Locally, you can choose the number of opponents and AI teammates you wish to include. In online matches, you can create private rooms to stipulate your own rules or brave the seas out in online matchmaking.
However, at the time of writing, only casual multiplayer is available. Ranked is simply “coming soon”. Not that this really matters, as the online portion is dead. Multiple times I have tried matchmaking, and it has always ended up with me and eleven bots for company. I think the £14.99 price tag for a game that gets boring very quickly may have something to do with that.
I always feel a bit guilty when riffing on a price point for a game. But in the case of Plunder Panic, it is so far off the mark it needs bringing up. £14.99 is over three times what the price of this game should actually cost.
Plunder Panic does go some way to elongate your fun out of it by adding a few different game modes and modifiers – known in pirate talk as modify-arrs – which can be found in the Handbook. However, confusingly, you can only toggle these on and off when you have selected a captain. In the character select screen you will see the options button, but it is only when a captain has been chosen that this menu will open up.
There are some quite fun modifiers there though. One in particular gives every crewmate a sword and captain hat resulting in some imposters amongst the ranks. But this is then ruined by the captain victory condition – where you kill the captain X number of times – being disabled. It would have been more fun to find the true captain and have the opposing team keep an eye on the real one when surrounded by imposters.
Some modifiers can also have the maps themselves attack you. At launch, there are twelve maps to choose from, all varied just enough with different platforms to make a difference. Looks wise however, they are very distinct from one another. These maps can unleash lava rocks at you which can damage your crew if hit. On a map with twelve players, this just becomes absolute carnage.
The maps and pirates are brought to life thanks to this excellent pixel art used in Plunder Panic. It really is excellent and arguably the best part of the entire game. Even on the main screen where a topple candle appears to be lighting a piece of parchment, it just looks gorgeous.
Plunder Panic is a noble effort but suffers severely from a lack of content. It appears that there will be post-release drops in future, but the fundamental gameplay lacks any real meat to it. Anything new that will be added will likely offer little meaningful content.
It is also highly advised to not play Plunder Panic with a full twelve players. The action is too frenetic that any enjoyment you could get out of Plunder Panic is stunted by not knowing what is going on around you. With fewer players you can get a bit of enjoyment out of it, but even that quickly goes.
Pesky pirating a-plenty in Plunder Panic from the Xbox Store