ATLAS: Another ARK or Something Else?
Two weeks ago ATLAS launched to a rocky start, by rocky, I mean really bad. We had a scheduled launch on the 19th of December, which got pushed back 30 minutes after the actual launch time. After that initial pushback we received two more, ultimately resulting in a December 22nd launch, right before Christmas, barely anyone could play. What does this mean for ATLAS? This is our ATLAS review!
ATLAS was marketed as a massive MMO with thousands of players on a map on the scale of 40,000 sq/km. We were promised quests, NPCs, epic adventures and drunken pirate brawling. So far all we’ve received was the drunken pirate brawling and a handful of NPCs that don’t really do much. When I heard about ATLAS I got super excited. Yes, it was made by the same developer that created ARK, but that didn’t dissuade me, the selling points screamed at me that this could be a great game. Boy was I wrong.
Bare Bones, not much to see here
ATLAS is bare bones. It’s much more barebones than ARK was at launch. I’ve yet to see any quests, I’ve barely built a ship. More importantly I’ve not come across any large NPC settlements, only “freeports” that you get kicked out of quickly at level 8. Let’s not also forget Freeports were totally inaccessible for the first week. Server stability was almost nonexistent for the first week. It’s substantially better now, but first impressions are key and these issues drove a lot of players off.
What to do?
So what’s there to do in ATLAS? I’m glad you asked! You get to gather, craft, and build, then lose it all and repeat. Sounds like ARK doesn’t it? Going to be totally honest, the game feels identical to ARK. The main difference is one is Dinosaurs, one is Pirates, that’s basically it. They’ve added different mechanics and possibly upgraded the engine, but at the heart of things the game is ARK, only skinned differently. Your objective is to sail the seas, find treasure maps and then find the treasure. You’ve got a singular quest to find certain objects to unlock something special (what that is I have no idea), but I akin it to the boss monsters you summon in ARK. You collect “x” items and used it to summon a boss monster, whether or not that’s the exact case in ATLAS is irrelevant, the key mechanic is there.
The main mechanic of the game is Sailing. It’s not implemented well quite yet, they have a long way to go. I expected a halfway decent polish on the core mechanic of the game, sailing, but it feels much like ARK’s raft mechanic except you use wind, which is erratic and wonky. There is nothing fluid about it. I like the aspect of building your own ship the way you want to. After you build the basic hull of the ship, you can customize it the way you want with walls and ceiling tiles. It just takes forever to farm the materials to build it. An example is a Schooner, which takes roughly 4,000 of each resource to build (Wood, Thatch, Fiber) and a fair amount of Metal. Then you have to build the sail, and whatever top deck you want. The problem isn’t really the cost, it’s how weak they are. Currently the Ships of the Dead patrol the waters in the dozens. Once you go out into the ocean, you’re going to be swarmed with them only to have your pristine new ship sunk almost immediately. That is the main issue I have with sailing currently.
40,000 players? 40,000 sq./km Map?
There are two different main servers to connect to: PVP and PVE. Within each of these main servers are several smaller 150 man servers that are basically three islands each. The map is not seamless, each server is broken down into a square on the larger map. Each server contains 3 islands and you go from one server to another by crossing the server line. This quickly loads you into the next area and server. It’s not seamless, but it’s close.
Claiming land is very strange, wonky, and I don’t think it works very well. From day people claimed every inch of land available. Leaving none for anyone else. So long as you have a player sleeping within the circle of a flag, it cannot be lost. This means you don’t even have to play daily to keep your land, you can just stay sleeping in the most important spot and no one can ever take it from you. This is a bit different on PVP servers, as you can siege and forcibly take the land. On PVE, however, it is simply broken. For example, a certain clan claimed nearly the entire island we settled on. Slowly we took land from them to build on, but we have never seen them, not even once. They took over a Fort structure, and have people sleeping in it, as well as their main structure. They have not been on since launch, yet we cannot de-claim their claims. They truly need to work on that feature.
But is it fun?
Is the game fun? That is very subjective. Do you enjoy ARK? If so you’ll enjoy ATLAS. Many are offended because they believe it should have been a mod for ARK, and I would somewhat agree. However, if you look past all of the issues and actually enjoy ARK, you will enjoy ATLAS. The developers are constantly fixing the issues and slowly adding content. If games like ARK are your thing, you will truly enjoy the game. Just go into it expecting what it is, not what was promised. If they deliver what was promised, ATLAS could surpass ARK easily.