Join us! Nintendo Enthusiast Forums
dark        

It's easy to zone out in the open ocean of Windward

0

Avast ye salty dog

The PAX East expo floor is one of the least peaceful places to play a game. There are sweaty crowds, children who haven't learned to use their inside voices, and booths blasting dance music and/or eSports commentary. And yet, at the back of the floor sat Tasharen Entertainment's booth, where I was able to don some headphones, relax, and lose myself in the high seas of Windward.

Before I knew it, half an hour had passed, a line was forming behind me, and I felt like I had hardly scratched the surface of the genre-blending ship game. I needed more time with it to get a really good feel for it. I started up the Early Access build the other day and the time melted away. I managed to get six hours of play in that same day.

It's easy to understand how Windward did this to me: it has a gameplay loop similar to Civilization's. Though it plays nothing like Sid Meier's strategy series, it sets the player up with an unending series of very small tasks to accomplish. Finish one, and the next seems like another quick jaunt. With few clear stopping points, this can go on ad infinitum.

The most highlighted gameplay feature of Windward is its action-RPG ship combat. Ship cannons can only fire off the sides, always perpendicular to the ship's movement. It sets up a unique combat choreography where each ship vies for position to the bow or stern of its target. In the beginning, this means a lot of circle strafing until one ship sinks the other, but eventually some special abilities unlock and things get a bit more interesting.

While the always-on cannon fire and the more powerful triggered volleys can only target enemies to the sides, most of the special abilities work with a full 360-degree range. These include bathing an area in burning alcohol, noxious gas, or obscuring fog. With these, hit-and-run tactics become more viable, chipping enemies down from afar before dropping anchor, taking a hard turn, and letting loose on any pursuers.

Though the ship combat is the most advertised feature, it isn't what I spend most of my time doing. Underneath it are a handful of different systems that give players more to do. A campaign consists of a few dozen connected areas, each procedurally generated. Taking over all of the towns in an area will allow players to assert control, and the full campaign involves controlling as many areas as possible.

Closer to the center of the world map, the the neutral pirate faction is a bigger threat, so players must grow on the way. This involves picking up new pieces of gear; there are improved hulls, sails, cannons, crews, and even captains to be found as random drops or through missions.

The missions give players tasks after the pirate threat has been eliminated from an area (or before, for the daring). These often involve delivering an item between cities or neutralizing a recently spawned pirate ship. Completing a mission will level up the city where it was taken on, giving it new items to purchase. Additionally, there is an economy where cities will have surpluses and shortages of commodities, so a good chunk of cash can be earned by playing the market, buying low and selling high.

This is what I spend a lot of time on. I will enter a new area, clear it of pirates as soon as I can, and then live the life of a seafaring merchant, mapping out the most efficient paths in order to maximize the return. In practice, it means I sail to a city, take on a mission or two, load up some cargo (with a destination that matches the mission), then sail to the next city. Each trip takes a minute or two, so the barrier to starting up one more trip is always low. Then before I know it, I have spent another hour and circumvented a map a few times just completing missions, leveling up cities, and collecting my rewards.

It's a little strange, because I'm not entirely sure that it's fun in the classic sense. The combat is certainly the more exciting portion of Windward, and especially when resistance ramps up and it takes a fleet to drive the pirates out. Still, I more often find myself just sailing across the bright blue ocean, listening to the calm tropical music, and planning out the route to my next big score.

You are logged out. Login | Sign up

 
 

 

TwitterRedditEmailFacebook
 
Darren Nakamura
Darren NakamuraAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011. While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strateg... more + disclosures


 


 


Also on destructoid: Windward   (3)   From our database:

  • It's easy to zone out in the open ocean of Windward - Darren Nakamura
  • Windward: RPG lootin' on the high seas - Darren Nakamura
  • More related stories
    Filed under... #Indie #Linux #Mac #Multiplayer #PAX #PC #Previews #Procedural Generation

    READER COMMENTS LOADING BELOW...


    LET'S KEEP THE COMMUNITY GREAT


    You're not expected to always agree, but do please keep cool and never make it personal. Report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community team. Also, on the right side of a comment you can flag nasty comments anonymously (we ban users dishing bad karma). For everything else, contact us!



     
     
  •