Blazing Sails Preview: More Than Just a Sea of Thieves Clone

The exciting early access Pirate themed battle royale, Blazing Sails, has been critiqued as a simple Sea of Thieves clone. Peek a quick review to look at some of the similarities and differences, and ultimately decide if its worth picking up in its current state.

Blazing Sails Review: More Than Just a Sea of Thieves Clone Cover

Blazing Sails is the shiny new swash-buckling battle royale game developed by Get Up Games and published by Iceberg Interactive. Players are sailing and plundering their way across the map, gathering resources and equipment as they go. Although on the surface this may look like a typical battle royale game, Blazing Sails actually has a few interesting little quirks that make it unique.

Blazing Sails is available on Steam for £20.69, with a current 10% discount.

Gameplay – Walking the Royale Plank

The round starts with you and up to 3 friends or matched strangers aboard your ship, with nought but broken bottles for weapons. No cannon balls, no guns. There will be a team vote on where to spawn, which is always next to a cluster of islands. The next few minutes will be a mad dash around, gathering as much equipment and ammo as you can! Kind pirates can even share their loot with their crew, as the ship has its own inventory you can use to store equipment for your team. This part of the game can be quite slow and frankly, downright boring at times, it feels like the timer for the first closing circle is far too long at the moment.

Don’t spend too much time hanging around though, don’t forget this is a battle royale! As is the case with nearly all games in this genre, there is the ever present circle closing in from the edges of the map, swallowing players that weren’t fast enough. Luckily there’s a handy teleporter ready to take you from islands back to your ship. So hoist the sails and raise the anchor, it’s time to get moving!

The closing circle is a constant threat in Blazing Sails!

The closing circle is a constant threat in Blazing Sails!

Now that you’ve set sail, Blazing Sails feels like it really begins; you and your crew have to work together to keep everything ship shape. This means adjusting the sails to catch the wind, keeping a look out for enemy vessels and of course steering the ship. Sailing with your crew is quite satisfying; everyone can mark locations on the map which makes it easy to communicate with whoever is steering. However, coordinating would be a whole lot easier if there was a built in voice chat, which for some unknown reason isn’t included in Blazing Sails. Typing “Someone is boarding the ship!” while trying to fight off the enemy with a paddle isn’t easy. There is a radial menu for quick responses, but this is borderline useless outside of very specific circumstances.

As the circle closes, combat is inevitable. There’s a variety of cannon balls such as heavy cannon balls, doing more damage but traveling slower, or even exploding barrels that deal damage over a greater area, and if you miss they float in the water, waiting for an unsuspecting ship to sail over them. Of course the more powerful cannon balls are slightly more rare, but you get so much time at the start of the game you’re almost guaranteed to have some. There are other neat upgrades too though, in the form of ship upgrades. Ship upgrades are the most powerful (and therefore most rare) pickups you can find—a favourite of mine is the swivel cannon. While they do less damage, being able to fire at more extreme angles sure comes in handy!

Full broadside!

Full broadside!

The combat following on from this point is suspiciously similar to Sea of Thieves. It’s almost impossible to review Blazing Sails without comparing the two, in fact. While it does offer some improvements, such as the special cannon balls and ship upgrades, combat just doesn’t seem as polished as Sea of Thieves. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, however. It’s still exciting and chaotic, with players constantly running between top and lower deck, patching holes and manning the pump. All the while fending off enemies trying to board your ship and pull your plug, literally.

Graphics and Audio – Pretty Lighting and Catchy Shanties!

The overall art style of Blazing Sails could quite easily be considered unoriginal. The clean, bright cartoon styled visuals are becoming extremely popular in recent years, with hits like Sea of Thieves and Fortnite employing similar techniques. It’s an art style that works quite well, although it has to again be compared to Sea of Thieves, because sadly it’s not done as well here. Water is noticeably worse, for starters. However it can be a surprisingly pretty game at times, in particular the lighting thanks to its use of Unreal Engine.

A sunset like that almost makes me forget about my wooden leg!

A sunset like that almost makes me forget about my wooden leg!

Sounds are generally nice too, however as I previously mentioned the lack of in-game voice chat makes it virtually impossible to communicate with teammates. Cannons sounds powerful, and waves crashing against your ship sound like they’re hitting with force, but the real gem is the soundtrack. You can really tell time was spent on the soundtrack, because I had it stuck in my head after only an hour of play. It perfectly fits the situations you’ll find yourself in with its catchy pirate theme!

Blazing Sails was previewed on PC via Steam.

To Summarize, it's hard to recommend Blazing Sails at its current price point. It isn't a bad game by any means, and it is in early access which hints plans for expansion later. However right now there simply isn't enough content. It'll be interesting to see how it develops in future, but a game of this genre depends on having a large community and that's something Blazing Sails is struggling to acquire.
  • Excellent soundtrack
  • Fun art style and great lighting effects
  • Low system requirements
  • Tiny community makes finding games a chore
  • There's no way to filter servers in the browser
  • The start of every game is very, very slow

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