The pirates of Windward are a scurvy and morally devoid bunch, stealing port and cargo, along with your free time.
Tasharen’ Entertainments procedural pirate project is near its 1.0 launch, and the quality of the game shows it.
Windward casts players as salty sea-dogs wrangling waves for 1 of 4 factions in a bid to dominate the known world via commerce and cannons. Players begin in a simple sloop, in a region controlled (mostly) by your faction, in a small port. Your approach from here depends largely on your play style; do you load up on cargo, and make your life as a trader? Do you take on the requests of the locals and complete quests to build your infrastructure? Or perhaps you are a fierce pirate hunter or privateer, laying powder and shot to any ship within your sight. Any of these are viable options, and you’ll likely find yourself doing a mix of these things, as well as others.
As you make sail around your particular set of procedurally generated islands (across a span of biome types), you will harvest resources and develop towns for your faction, while making money and advancing a perk system in the process. Your general goal is to explore and control as many regions as possible within your world. You accomplish this by driving pirates out of region after region, whilst taking ownership of towns in the region, as well as potentially making your own.
The game is present in a birds eye perspective from above your ship. Mouse or keyboard (wasd) controls will ferry you about the map. Combat is handled in an appropriate manner, with the broadsides of ships used to fire devastating volleys of cannon-fire. This opens up some unique experiences and victories, as a smaller, quicker ship can occasionally sink a much larger foe by superior maneuvering and speed. The oceans of Windward are also rife with detritus, that can be collected to build resources, gold, provide highly rewarding quest and trade incentives, as well as containing loot. Player loot, not pirate booty (well, that too, but you know.) I mean gear. Your ship has 10 equippable slots, that you will fill with sails, cannon, shots, hulls, captains, and crew, to name a few. These items have honest-to-goodness meaningful stats, allowing you to build a decent variety of different ship concepts. Add to this a multitude of different ships and purely cosmetic items, and you have a challenging and entertaining time-sink of a semi-grindy nature.
Your grind will likely be fun with friends and atmosphere, at least in this writers opinion. The scenery is easy on the eye, and tactical to boot. Coupled with a fairly soothing sound track and a few friends, you can easily lose an afternoon to this one. The game offers server software standard, and running a server is fairly straightforward. Public servers were available and populated at all hours, including a development server hosted by ArenMook, the game’s chief architect. The game also sports mod support.
Windward surprised me. Honestly, I had high hopes. Those hopes were not misplaced, it seems. After basically absconding with an entire weekend, this polished pirate darling certainly has my attention. I’m looking forward to several weekends spent buckling swash into the wee hours of the night.