The year of the Battle Royale type games started last year and is continuing strong this year. Wait, no, come back! You’ll want to look at this, just because Maelstrom is in the Battle Royale genre doesn’t mean it’s like everything else out there. Stay awhile and I’ll give you my impressions – yaaaaar.
Maelstrom is described by the developers as a third-person action strategy game with fast-paced, tactical, ship-vs-ship combat, customization, progression and a focus on multiplayer. On March 27, 2018, the Kickstarter ended and the goal was met. It’s now April and there is already an early access version of the game to play for the MSRP of $19.99 US. Take a moment and let that sink in, because that’s not the norm for Kickstarter projects.
But what is Maelstrom? In its current form, it’s a ship versus ship Battle Royale fought over a map that gradually shrinks with Dark Water being on the outside, with “things” waiting for you to take too much time to leave. That is the game at its core but it’s so much more than that. My Editor mentioned that it reminded him of Pirates of the Burning Sea in regards to combat and he’s not wrong. It brought back many memories of the days I spent with Xen of Onslaught sailing the ocean and blowing stuff up.
Digging deeper you find that there are three factions currently in Maelstrom (Human, Orc and Dwarf). Each faction ships have a certain feel and flavor to them (humans more manoeuvrable, Orcs are focused on ramming with giant sharks towing their ships and Dwarves has steamships). There are three different types of ship for each faction, lighter speedier, medium all around and the glorious tank with broadsides for days (can you tell which I preferred?). Add to this the ability to add a captain that has a special skill and mates that have special bonuses and the ability to upgrade and change out parts on a ship, means you have quite the ability to customize the ship to how you prefer to play.
The standard cannonball will focus on hull damage (get it to 0 and the other ship sinks, leaving behind buffs and treasure). But you can switch to grapeshot to focus on the crews of the ships (less crew means you can do more damage during a boarding action) and chain shot which focuses doing damage to a ship sails thus slowing them and their ability to manoeuvre. There is also damage from ramming and crashing into the land. You can sail with the current increase speed and there is an actual maelstrom in the map that you can use to gather speed or misdirect foes.
Maelstrom is a breath of fresh air in the Battle Royale genre that makes up a great experience overall. Time will tell what Gunpowder Games does going forward, but if it’s adventure over the high seas you’re looking for, then look no further matey!