Battlewake

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Battlewake Game Poster Image
Fun VR shooter packs pirate action but lacks depth.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The goal here is to destroy or be destroyed. It's a superpowered fantasy fight for survival on the high seas. There's no greater moral purpose or code of honor to work with here.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You're a supernaturally powered pirate whose only real goal is to plunder the high seas, sinking other ships and stealing their gold. You're basically a thief with a violent streak. While fun to play, these aren't exactly characters anyone should look up to.

Ease of Play

While the action's intense and frantic, the game's surprisingly easy to control. The biggest issue for aiming tends to be having to do so around the structure of your ship, such as aiming and shooting around the mainsail mast.

Violence

The game's filled with big explosions, lots of destruction, and massive attacks, but there's very little blood shown onscreen. Occasionally, when taking fire, you can see some of your crew swallowed up in the smoke and flame of explosions, but it's nothing remotely graphic.

Sex
Language

The game is filled with "pirate-y" lines of dialogue, but nothing particularly profane or offensive. That said, parents should be aware that the online multiplayer could potentially open up younger players to be exposed to offensive language from others via the in-game chat.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Being pirates, there are regular dialogue references to drinking alcohol, getting drunk, etc.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Battlewake is a pirate themed virtual reality arena action shooter available for download on PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive VR headsets. Players take on the take control of a pirate ship and, using a combination of ship weapons and supernatural powers, battle it out for dominance of the high seas in fast-paced arena combat. Players can fight alone or in multiplayer matches with up to ten players. The game features a lot of fast paced and explosive-filled action but is light on any scenes of graphic violence. Parents should also be aware that, due to the online multiplayer component, younger players could be exposed to offensive language via the in-game chat. Pirates also regularly mentionm drinking or getting drunk, although nothing's shown in the game.

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What's it about?

Hoist your anchor and seize the seas in BATTLEWAKE, a virtual reality arena shooter that puts players at the helm of their own powerful galleon as they seek to claim the oceans as their own. Players take on the role of one of four mystically powered Pirate Lords and Ladies, called together by Andromalius, the Boatman of the River Styx, who promises them an eternity of riches in return for seizing control of the seas of New Urth from the forces of the treacherous Queen's Company. You'll take on the Queen's Company in solo or co-op play through a twenty-chapter Campaign Mode, team up with three others in the objective based Warfare Mode, or rule the waters in two to ten player PvP Plunder Mode. Get ready to fire your cannons, ram your opponents, or call upon the supernatural powers of the ocean to send your enemies down to Davy Jones' Locker once and for all.

Is it any good?

Maybe it's the ruthless search for plunder and treasure or just the vision of adventure on the high seas, but it hard to deny the siren's call of being a pirate. Battlewake brings gamers closer than ever to the fantasy of navigating the ocean waters, cannons at the ready, sending all your foes to a watery grave. The game's a surprisingly well-crafted and entertaining arcade action experience, but this virtual pirate ship still springs a few leaks here and there that'll keep players from totally smooth sailing.

On the positive side, the game looks amazing. It's bright and colorful, with exaggerated style and big explosions that are a blast to watch. Best of all, the animations are fluid and steady, keeping the seasickness you might expect from VR sailing far from the gameplay. The controls are also relatively solid too, easily allowing a quick switch from navigation to combat. Unfortunately, sometimes your own ship blocks your line of fire, which can be very frustrating in the heat of battle. The biggest issue the game faces, though, is its lack of depth. There are only a handful of environments and each feels almost claustrophobic in size. Add to this a story that's as diluted as the oceans surrounding you, and Battlewake winds up feeling too much like a great big fish in a tiny little pond.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Battlewake affected by the art style and graphic imagery of the gameplay? Can VR affect the impact of the violence by putting gamers closer to the action?

  • How does VR bring to life worlds that used to only exist in the imagination of others? What are some ways that VR technology is used to benefit people outside of gaming or entertainment?

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