Review: Battlewake

We are approaching the three year anniversary of the PlayStation VR and the direction of the technology is bright thanks to a company named Survios. The developer behind Creed: Rise to Glory and Raw Data had created technological advances in both those titles and brings new tech for its latest game Battlewake. Survios is focusing on eliminating sea sickness with with Battlewake, which is a pirate ship battle game that has you commanding attacks from a ship in hectic waters. Creativity is another caveat that has come along well with virtual reality and Battlewake is outside of the box. If you want to be a pirate captain, this is how you pirate captain.

Battlewake allows you to choose between one of four different pirates each with their own unique abilities. The game also includes four different ships with matches and missions taking place in four different environments. You captain a ship and use the PS Move controllers to steer the ship while aiming three different weapons to attack other ships with. There are rear weapons that require the player to look behind them to launch them and these can be devastating. There are anchors on each side of the player that can be pulled to have the ship turn hard in one direction.

These actions all feel like just enough to manage a ship with the capabilities involved without overly micro-managing the ship. The controls will take a minute to figure out and work seamlessly. Motion controls work mostly well in Battlewake, although there were some issues with aiming the two front guns at the same time. Control is responsive and what you attempt to do works as motion tracking is on point. Whether steering the ship with one hand and grabbing the anchor with the other, the tracking works well. When that confidence is built though, you will appreciate the sense of satisfaction in working the ship. Things get frantic in trying to navigate and battle, but pulling it off by taking down ships especially in PvP is wonderful.

Players have the choice between four Pirate Lords that each offer varying personalities. They have quips and jokes they will blurt out during battle. Diego is the original unlocked and he has a ultimate move that creates a tsunami to tackle other ships while his super move is a fast dash ahead. Rev, Calavera and Zhang are the other three. Players an expect to unleash a literal Kraken and other moves such as tidal waves and a crystal shield to keep things varying for a while.

Battlewake consists of a single or cooperative story that lasts up to twenty missions. The campaign basically offers five missions for each Pirate Lord as the focus is taking down the ships then being presented with a boss. Some missions involve taking down a castle. The story itself is there for the sake of being there as the goal is to discover an ancient seat of power. There are no cutscenes and actual ties into this story besides some random dialogue. This is kind of a miss here on Survios part, but the game doesn’t need a story for success.

The other way to play is Warfare which basically feels like a skirmish mode for RTS games. Here you will grind through random missions to accrue gold that allows players to upgrade the four ships in the game and the Pirate Lord’s abilities. Beyond beating the campaign, this is what is left as multiplayer is touted. Warfare can grind to level up your characters and this carries over to multiplayer. These are timed missions, but they get super redundant and after a few you realize you’re doing the same thing over and over until the next match. Doing this alone can get boring but it goes towards a greater good.

Multiplayer is the shining aspect of Battlewake. The story can be played cooperatively with two people or players can jump in Warfare to do co-op missions with up to four. This kind of eliminates the redundancy of doing it single player. PvP will pit up to ten people against each other. The online connection works seamlessly and there is even in-game voice chat. No lag was produced on controls and the PvP almost feels like World of Tanks, but on a smaller scale map. Health and Ultimate Move drops will pop up as you aim to get as many kills as possible in a time limit.

The visuals using the PlayStation VR do an excellent job of keeping things colorful. Each different environment ranges from glaciers to volcanoes and they all bring their own vibrant touch. Waves get hectic and everything runs smooth during battle. Sometimes you need to take a step back and just look around to appreciate these environments. The towering smoke stack from the volcano is intimidating, but you won’t see it unless you look up.

One thing the game seems to lack is any type of music. During gameplay and if things are slow, you will notice things will just be silent besides the creaks from the boat, pirate banter and the sound of the waves. Some background music to go with the environment would have helped. The repeated dialogue lines from the Pirate Lords get old quickly. Sound effects such as weapons launching and explosions along with the sounds of the sea and pirate banter all do their part in sounding well.

Closing Comments:

Survios has another winner on its hands with Battlewake. Instituting an anti-sea sickness technology should allow people who are more prone to this to actually enjoy the game. While the single player allows for getting the premise and feel of the game down, it truly shines in multiplayer. Multiplayer is seamless and works extremely well and people can hop on with friends. Single player will get redundant, but what is done here will go towards the multiplayer experience. Motion tracking is wonderful along with the controls but will take a little bit to master as there is a lot going on at times. The visuals are vibrant and vary based on environments. Battlewake is the only game of its kind and even better, it retails for only $30 on PS4. Battlewake is a must-have game for VR owners.

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