Atlas teases the Blackwood map on the way for next week

    
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It looks nice, let's move in.

There’s a lot you can do with the basic mechanics of Atlas, it seems, as exemplified by the game’s Blackwood map. This was teased back in May (and we’ve included the teaser trailer for it) and it looks wildly different than anything else in the game, a standalone map meant to alter the nature of gameplay and face players with new challenges. And back when it was teased it was promised for players in early June, a date that is now vanishing back into history.

But don’t worry, there’s a happy ending here; it’s confirmed on Twitter that the map is arriving this Friday, so it can be used on single servers as it was intended. Check out the teaser just below if you’ve forgotten how the whole thing looks, although it’s pretty memorable regardless.

Source: Twitter
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Dean Greenhoe

Look nice. At least that is something nice I can say about the game. :)

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EmberStar

I’ve only tried it in singleplayer mode. I can say that in that mode, sea travel is kind of somewhere between “unbalanced” and “actually broken.” Armada of the Damned ships spawn in groups of four, and have a nasty tendency to blockade whatever island you’re on. Fortunately you can spot them before their AI starts running, and they’ll self destruct after a few minutes if you don’t attack them. But it means getting near any island is somewhat tedious since you do have to wait.

The weather effects are flat out broken. Rain has a one out of three chance of spawning waterspouts. They appear in massive swarms, almost right on top of your ship. And as near as I can tell use the same pathfinding as NPC creatures, with a strong preference for heading straight at you if you get too close. If one touches you with the starting raft or ramshackle sloop, it will sink it in a few seconds. It will also fling away any pets or crew, and good luck finding them again.

Heatwaves happen on a more or less daily basis. This results in temperatures of over 127 F, which will absolutely kill you in a couple of minutes until you’ve leveled up a ton and dropped lots of points into Fortitude. So if you like playing in hardcore/permadeath mode… don’t. Being inside, soaking wet, wearing cloth armor, and with a pet parrot on your shoulder (all things that help you resist extreme temperatures) *might* allow you to survive. Maybe. If you’re lucky. From what I’ve read many people prefer the frozen islands, because blizzards are far easier to survive than heatwaves. (Fur armor actually does something against them, for one thing.) You definitely want to make sure you have a bed on your boat, possibly more than one until you’ve got lots of Fortitude and have leveled up the temperature resistance granted by the ship. Because again, heatwave = unavoidable death.

There is also the issue that any kind of travel seems to be intentionally frustrating. If your ship has all Speed sails, you can only travel with the wind at your back, meaning you have little say in what direction you’re going. Handling sails allow you to tack basically upwind, but you do so very slowly. The map (by design) doesn’t show what direction you’re facing, nor does the HUD. You *can* do that if you build a sextant and figure out the minigame, but that has its own issues. It’s basically broken at night, requiring you to scan basically the entire sky for the randomly selected star that begins the minigame. During the day you at least only need to find the sun.

And sea travel is slow. With a good wind it still takes me ten or fifteen minutes to travel between two islands in the same grid that are close enough to see one from the other. Crossing an entire map grid takes much longer, and crossing the entire ocean (such as to find the Power Stones that energize your compass and apparently unlock the boss) would take hours and hours and hours. I hope you have a good selection of audiobooks or movies you can watch on a tablet / second screen. Short of “almost certain death” weather, or looking away long enough to sail into a random flotilla of Dead Pirates, you mostly just point the ship in a direction and try not to crash into an island.

For private servers I guess there’s also the issue that each map grid actually requires its own server – they’re each a separate process, like the individual maps in Ark. So the other advantage of Blackwood is that it’s supposed to put a wider variety of terrain into a single map grid, making it far more friendly to private server owners. It would also avoid some of the weirder bugs in singleplayer, such as shoulder pets being deleted when you cross from one map grid to another if you still have them *on your shoulder.* :( (So sorry, McGee the Parrot, I didn’t know about that “feature.”)

laelgon
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laelgon

Nothing to be excited for unless you already liked how the sailing game has very little sailing. The fundamental design flaw of Atlas was that the majority of gameplay is spent on land. There was very little incentive to be out sailing, unless you were on your way to raid another island, which again, was almost entirely a land-based affair. Otherwise you were on your own island farming resources. It’s a shame that they seem to have no interest in getting people out and about on the ocean.