Right off the heels of the Guns of Icarus Online release is Air Buccaneers, an upcoming online airship game that’s currently in Open Beta. Air Buccaneers, while offering similar gameplay to GoIO, takes players to an entirely new world – a world where Vikings fight Goblins in giant airships, thousands of feet above the ground.
Logging in for the first time presents few choices; though there are multiple avenues for character development, including a talent system that supports various roles and an equipment tree that allows for individual character customisation, none of it is accessible to a new player, leaving only one choice before entering combat: are you a Goblin or a Viking?
Hit Quick Match or Find Game and you’ll be immediately transferred into a game. Currently, players are few and far between, with only 1 or 2 games active at any given time, and entering the ring for the first time is nothing if not overwhelming.
There’s something like a tutorial that appears when you enter your first game; it’s made up of a number of tooltips that teach you the basics required to play, and how to best use much of the equipment available to you. It’s fast and non-intrusive, and each individual element can be skipped, so you won’t need to learn how to walk with [WASD] if you’ve played… y’know, a video game on PC before. Of course, if you do need the help, it’s there and readily available. Few tutorials are this well implemented.
Once you’ve got a handle on the controls, you’ll need to find a hang glider. They’re always available and located where you spawn, and will automatically transport you to the nearest available airship, allowing you to get into the battle without delay.
On an airship, you’ll find a captain’s wheel and a selection of cannons ranging from 1 to 4. The wheel allows you to steer the ship, and by using the [Middle Mouse Scroll] and [Space], can choose from a selection of boost options that will allow you to quickly move in the direction of your choice. The cannons operate in a similar fashion; they can be turned using the [WASD] keys, fired with the [Left Click], and have a smaller selection of boost options that change the angle of the shot between Left Curve, Right Curve, ZigZag and Helix.
It doesn’t take very long for you to realise that the airship combat is lacking in variety; both Goblins and Vikings share the same ships, with the same cannons, and not much else. Fortunately, there are a bunch of tools and weapons on your character that can be easily accessed via the [Hotkey Bar].
These tools range from telescopes and swords to special ‘blocker’ cannons that stop incoming cannon fire, air mines that can be fired across a battlefield and small bags of gunpowder that can… I forget. But they’re probably really cool. As you can likely tell, boarding enemy ships is more than possible, and highly encouraged. There’s really nothing as enjoyable as leaping from your ship, landing on your opponents ship and slicing them to pieces as they fire a cannon.
IT’S A LONG ROAD
Conceptually, Air Buccaneers is an enormous success. It takes the airship combat style, repaints it in some of the best looking visuals I’ve seen in Unity and gives players a set of tools that allow for some of the most hilarious, and awesome, combat scenarios around.
But, it’s a long road, and there’s work to be done. In it’s current state, Air Buccaneers fails to deliver the gameplay dynamic required to keep players entertained for more than a few games. Every game is very much the same as the last, and with so few players in the beta, most see you flying your own vessel and switching out to the cannons to take pot shots at difficult-to-hit targets.
It’s a game that requires a lot of teamwork to be successful – not in the way Guns of Icarus does, as the gameplay in Air Buccaneers is considerably more arcadey than that – but you’ll still feel the impact of a well-organised team, especially when you’re fighting against it on your own.
As Air Buccaneers is currently in Open Beta, you can start playing immediately from our game page – and you should. Even if it’s only for an hour, there’s a richness hidden within their world and characters that shouldn’t be missed; and if you’ve got a few friends willing to join you, then you’re sure to see a level of gameplay beyond traditional multiplayer shooters, and be all the better for it.
Related: Air Buccaneers, Beta, Flight Game
Come release, we’ll be reviewing Air Buccaneers in its entirety, including level progression, skill unlocks and equipment. However, as it’s looking like you’ll need a good 20 or so games under your belt to access any of that just now, we’ve decided to wait until it’s been properly balanced before we dive in for a closer look. If you know something we don’t, please leave a comment below – and check our Air Buccaneers Game Page regularly for more news and updates as we get closer to release.