The Crazy Promises of Pirate Survival MMO 'ATLAS'

Published: December 10, 2018 11:59 AM /


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Upcoming title ATLAS aims to combine pirate conquest, territorial warfare and monster-wrangling, all wrapped up in one massively multiplayer online package - according to a recent deluge of details in a press release from publisher Grapeshot Games.

Coming from the directors of ARK: Survival Evolved, Jeremy Stieglitz and Jesse Rapczak, the game was unveiled at The Game Awards 2018, with a trailer promising grand adventure, naval combat, and diverse creatures - apparently, there is much more to it.

“From the very beginning of ATLAS’ development, we wanted to create a world on a massive scale to facilitate a new paradigm in emergent online gameplay scenarios,” said Jeremy Stieglitz, Lead Designer. “We’re incredibly excited to finally bring players into the ATLAS and witness their fantastic adventures!”

The press release details a host of new features, suggesting ambitious scope, detail, and variety.

A grand scale is promised, players able to sail across vast oceans in real-time, with over 700 unique land masses, thousands of ‘Discovery Zones’ and ten world regions providing distinct enemies, hazards resources and secrets. Fully customizable ships, crews, and characters are promised. Players may begin with drydocks and a shabby rowboat, working up to a brigantine with player-chosen name, custom pirate flag, and every structure, from sail to plank to gunport, placed exactly where and how the player desires. A crew, of real players and AI recruited from ports or saved from “Army of the Damned” shipwrecks, can be given station and assigned to naval tasks. Being pirates, each player can steal all they can hold and lose it all to other players, from ships, crew, and pets to forts, land, and loot.

A melee combat system is comprised of a tactical balance of parries, dodges, strength-varying strikes and directional attacks promised. It sounds as if this scale will extend far beyond ship-to-ship battles and melee skirmishes, however, with the option for players to form companies, claim territory and rule as a benevolent leader, a cruel tyrant, or anything in between. Buildings can be extensively edited, from the elevation of foundations to plumbing systems to painting literally everything down to the pixel. Land ownership can be contested, large-scale conflict playing out between players.

Items and armor will affect player statistics, which is where the character progression comes in. The game’s MMO-scale character progression takes the form of an unlockable tree containing over 15 disciplines and 300 skills.

A vast array of sliders and values dictate the cosmetic look of the character, including tattoos designable down to the pixel. To keep this character alive, hunger and vitamins will need to be monitored. Countless quests are supplemented by procedural maps and challenge zones, providing endless content - the exact balance of hand-crafted to computer-made content is as yet unclear.

Over 50 creatures will feature at launch, the objective seems to be to tame them rather than slaughter. Everything from shoulder-mounted parrots to mermaids to the fantastical monsters spotted in the trailer are set to feature, players able to earn buffs for ownership and ferry them across the seas to trade.

If the immense variety and depth promised above is not enough, extensive mod and server functionality is promised, with the ATLAS Dev Kit apparently allowing for endless large-scale MMO’s to be created and supported by the ATLAS network technology.

Apparently, yet more features are yet to be unveiled. The game will release next Thursday, December 13, on Steam Early Access for $26.99, and in early 2019 will be coming exclusively to Xbox One as part of their Game Preview program.

Do you think ATLAS will live up to its lofty promises? Will you be trying out the game next week? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sam Gohra
| Staff Writer

I'm studying Law and Arts at the University of Adelaide. I am passionate about video games, movies, books and music, and love to write about them.