This review was originally created in November 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
Although piracy, or buccaneering, has a mostly negative historical reality, that hasn’t stopped the subject from becoming a pop culture staple. Whatever the realities, there’s just something romantic and exciting about the concept of sailing the high seas in search of fame and fortune. Fortunately, simulating arguably the more compelling parts of the pirate experience – sailing and battling other ships – is definitely a natural for virtual reality.
Furious Seas casts you as a pirate captain during the Age of Sail. You battle other pirate ships until you eventually collect a bounty by defeating a boss, which is your ultimate goal for any particular level. There’s also an Exploration Mode you can unlock, where you can explore the seas at will and cause general mayhem without a specific goal in mind.
The game is designed for Vive, Vive Pro, or Oculus Rift owners as a seated or standing room-scale experience. Unlike many other virtual reality games that have seated play as a bullet point, Furious Seas works just as well when playing seated as it does standing. With that said, I still found it a lot more fun to command my ship standing.
The control scheme is a little unusual. Both controllers, which represent your in-game hands, do the same thing. You use the side Grip buttons to grab objects, be it the steering wheel, bell rope, or cannon, and the Trigger to fire a cannon. While this makes cannon fire quick and easy once in position, using the Grip button to grab things proves a bit uncomfortable, particularly in the heat of action.
Since everything you need to control is within easy reach, there’s no need for any type of movement or warp functionality. To your left and right are cannons, which you can grab and move, as well as shoot. In front of you is the wheel. To the upper right of the wheel is a bell you can ring to raise the sails and go full speed. To the left is a bell to drop the sails and stop the ship.
Even though the small, vocal crew in front of you doesn’t necessarily do much other than cycle through some simple animations, it’s still a refreshing change to actually have a team with you, as other games of this type tend to portray buccaneering as a solo affair. In fact, the crew is a bit more than window dressing and become part of the strategy as you try and maneuver your ship in a prime position. If you position your ship just right and an enemy ship is in range, the crew will use their own cannons to increase your firepower. About the only limitation is that the crew’s cannons reload much slower than your own.
Visually, the game looks spectacular, with well-modeled in-game objects and environments, as well as incredible water effects. Surprisingly, even with the constant ship motion, undulating seas, and my weak stomach, I felt no motion sickness, something the developers proudly advertise as something they’ve eliminated.
Audio is similarly well-done, with excellent water sounds and suitable effects for in-game objects, like the cannon. Fun sound design and chatter for the crew and bosses round out the audio experience.
Furious Seas succeeds on almost every level. Although not yet considered the full, final release candidate, what’s there is still lots of fun, with a surprising amount of strategic depth. It’s the best way yet to get a taste of the pirate life in virtual reality.
Score: 5 out of 5 stars.
Furious Seas is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.
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