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Solid Ideas Weathering Rough Seas

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Survios have done a remarkable job of establishing themselves as one of the  very best developers for high-quality, polished, and fun VR games. They often experiment with some quirky ideas, such as Sprint Vector and Electronauts, but also deliver great licensed VR games, such as Creed: Rise to Glory and Westworld: Awakening, as well as action-packed adventures that make you feel like a badass, such as Raw Data. It’s a big portfolio and it keeps growing.

Battlewake is their latest endeavor and newest IP full of their own original characters. In it you take control of a powerful pirate lord and embark on voyages to defeat other pirate lords and establish each of the four as the king of their respective waters. Add on top of that co-op features and some competitive PvP and you’ve got yourself a typical Survios game.

The issues start arising if you look past the raw bullet points, though. For example: yes, there are technically 20 missions, but they’re split up into four sets of five chunks across each of the pirate lords and you can breeze through the entire thing without much problem in just about two hours. There are some light upgrade elements sprinkled in between each mission chunk, but other than killing a few waves of ships and taking on each of the four bosses, that’s about it. Playing in co-op doesn’t change anything.

battlewake pirates lobby

Clearly the campaign is designed as a sort of training ground for multiplayer. As you complete the campaign missions you’ll earn gold that can be used to upgrade your ship and all of those upgrades will carry over into the multiplayer matches.

Visually Battlewake looks wonderful. The bright, colorful art style really pops inside the headset and all of the environments have a very distinct presentation. I didn’t hear a ton of music, but from what I did hear of the OST it sounds appropriately epic as well.

Actually controlling the ships is a bit imprecise, but extremely fun. There is no wind direction to worry about at all, it appears to just always be blowing in every direction, so that takes a load off in terms of things to worry about. Instead you can focus just on steering the ship with the wheel and aiming your weapons with your hands. It works a bit like miming in that you just point and pull the trigger to fire even though you don’t physically fire a canon or anything. The same goes for special attacks like the Kraken (shown below) or giant typhoons.

battlewake kraken gif

All in all multiplayer is the star in Battlewake since it offers far more challenge and way more options. There is a good selection of game modes from your typical deathmatch-style battles to more objective-focused options with up to ten total players. The pirates seem balanced well against one another so no one is dramatically overpowered compared to the others. However, there is one pretty major issue and that’s the lack of cross-play. For a Survios VR game the lack of cross-play is confounding, especially when it’s so heavily bolstered by its multiplayer modes.

In a lot of ways Battlewake feels almost like a sampler platter of a yet-to-be-released more robust VR game. The campaign is brief, multiplayer is mostly shallow, and there aren’t a whole lot of options in terms of weapons, abilities, and characters.



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