Hands-On: Battlewake’s Arcade Action Is Full Of Epic Sea Battles

by David Jagneaux • May 9th, 2019

Battlewake is not the kind of game I expected to see from Survios. When you look at every other proper game the studio has developed (Raw Data, Sprint Vector, and Creed: Rise to Glory) they all have one thing in common: visceral, kinetic movement. Raw Data has you swinging swords and feeling like a super hero, Sprint Vector has you frantically swinging your arms like an Olympic sprinter, and Creed has you bobbing and weaving while throwing punches in the boxing  ring. By comparison, Battlewake is a very different type of game and I got to try it for myself at GDC earlier this year.

In Battlewake you stand in one place behind the wheel of your pirate ship. On either side you’ve got anchors that can you can yank for sharp turns, weapons that can be controlled to rain down bullets and cannonballs, and a whole sea around you ready to be explored. Waving your arms around and directing your crew makes you feel more like a conductor of battle, like an actual captain, than it does a battle-hardened hero like Survios’ other titles. But despite that lack of chaotic movement, it felt just as intense.

Battlewake is definitely not a sim-style game by any means. You could probably tell that already from the bright, colorful art style, but it rings true in the gameplay as well. You never have to worry about which direction the wind is blowing or adjusting sails at all. All you have to do is turn the wheel to steer the ship. And if you really need to turn sharply on a dime then just yank up on the anchor — it feels a bit like drifting on the ocean.

Check out the anchor drift maneuver in the GIF below:


The secret to what makes Battlewake feel so grand despite forcing you to stand in one spot the entire time is the amount of control you’ve got in your hands. The sides and rear of the ship have totally different weapons that can be modified and upgraded over time and each captain has different special powers (like summoning a kraken or summoning a maelstrom on the water) to really drop some heavy damage.

All of your attacks are mimed from a distance behind the wheel. So you turn to look at the side that shoots cannonballs, for example, and just reach out with your hand and squeeze the trigger. The same goes for other areas of the ship too. Steering with one hand and firing off a weapon with the other feels extremely chaotic, but still like you’re in control of the action.

Reportedly you’ll be able to customize captains and ships, embark on a multi-mission campaign, and even play co-op or PvP content, but my demo was only a couple of brief single player missions.

Battlewake is due for release this summer and is likely coming to all major PC VR platforms since our demo was pretty straight forward on an original Oculus Rift. The Closed Beta sign up page also lists PSVR and Oculus Quest, for what it’s worth, so maybe that’s hinting at something. All other Survios games have been on PSVR, plus Creed and Electronauts are both Quest launch titles, so that seems likely.

Let us know what you think down in the comments below!

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