With Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag having done such a fantastic job attracting people to the fun of 18th century nautical combat, it was only a matter of time before Naval Action arrived.
Still in Early Access, this game lets you explore the Caribbean during the iconic age of sail, in a huge open-sea. Take your boat, attack enemies of your nation, and conquer ports - together with hundreds of other players.
Sail the seven seas
Developer, Game Labs, are clearly pouring a lot of love into the details of Naval Action. Even in its Early Access state is allows you to explore an enormous world based on 18th century naval maps. These are stuffed full of historically accurate ports, harbors, and towns to discover and attempt to take over.
Despite this huge game world, Game Labs are refusing to hold your hand. The sailing model accounts for waves, current, and tides, all able to take you far off course. And, with no real-time map marker, these minor changes to your direction have to be compensated for using the tools of the era: compasses, landmarks, and celestial navigation. Get ready to get old-school.
Man the long guns
But it is the ship to ship naval combat that is to be the highlight for many. These battles are instanced to allow for some hugely complex clashes of up to 50 ships, so partner up with others of your nation and take down your enemies in huge fleets. You can expect lots of flimsy alliances, but get to enthusiastic with your backstabbing and you may find yourself labeled a pirate - an enemy to everyone.
Naval Action’s ships are all realistically modeled, from simple cutters to 100-gun plus-rate ships. Moving and attacking accurately, larger ships feel more lethargic but have more offensive and defensive options. For smaller ships this can be a real problem as taking a full barrage from a galley's long guns could easily cripple a Brig, especially with the game’s physics model allowing for ricochets, damaged masts, and other realistic damage.
The bitter end – for now
Naval Action is still in Early Access, and as such has a great many – often funny – bugs. However, the team are constantly working to find these leaks and plug them, so keen Captains should hop on board today.
We will have our full review when the games is officially released.