Game Site: ao.hithere.com
Game Developer: Hithere
Rating: Worth Checking Out
Age of ocean is an OSG set in the age of exploration, where players command fleets of ships that trade, battle, and explore the world. The game just finished it’s closed beta this morning and the official grand opening time is Jan 27th.
The core gameplay is very different from most OSG’s, and very refreshing. Each player starts with a Hero and a Dock. The Dock is essentially your home base, and is part of a Real-World port-town, such as Nagasaki. From there the player buys goods at the market and sets sail for other parts of the of the world to sell those goods for a profit.
With the money you earn you can purchase new, faster ships and upgrade your dock. Players will also have to purchase ship-weapons and defensive structures such as coastal mortars, to fight against pirates and other players.
One of the highlights of the game is that it really captures a sense of sailing off into the unknown. Each city you visit is slightly different, carrying different goods for you to trade, and the further you go the more exotic new cities you will find.
The graphics, while few, are gorgeous. Though I never made it far enough during the beta, I’m assuming each culture has its own City and Dock screens, which will be exciting to discover. The UI, on the otherhand, could use some improvement. The game throws most UI screens as a separate window on top of the main view with a slight transparency, which can make them difficult to read and smaller than they should be. Further, some tasks you do constantly, such as sail to a new port to trade, require navigating down several menus to access, when it should be a simple option from the world map.
The game in general suffers from poor translation. Similar to Evony, the game follows a “quest” system. However, it often uses different names when describing the task than what made it into the final UI. For example, one quest was to upgrade the “Hiring Center”, but in the main UI it’s called “Workers.” Though annoying, it’s not a huge deal once you figure out what they’re trying to say.
One of the main complaints I have about the game was that the required time to complete some tasks was too quick. One of the good things about the OSG genre is that it doesn’t require too much attention to be a successful player. In Travian or Ikariam, I can play for a few minutes, order my new structures or send out an attack, and then come back maybe 9 hours later without worrying that I’m falling behind in the game. Most of the tasks in Age of Oceans, however, are completed in about 20 minutes, which means that any time I spend not playing the game is wasted.
The beta version had some serious bugs with the exploration and combat systems, but hopefully these will be ironed out before the official launch.
Despite all these problems, I found the game to be very enjoyable. I was very excited about filling my hold with goods and trying to sail off to Ha Long, or even all the way to Scotland. Assuming they are able to correct some of the problems they found in the beta before the full launch, it should be a pretty fun game and add something new to the genre that is starting to get bogged down with too many Evony Clones.