Review: AirBuccaneers

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I have two words for you: Vikings and Airships.

Enough said, right? Game of the freaking year.

Well, not quite, I suppose.

AirBuccaneers has it’s share of flaws as well as a frankly brilliant concept. On it’s most basic level, the game is a very simple red-vs-blue death-match game. The biggest difference is that most of the time, you’re not going to be fighting directly with your opponents – instead, you’ll be floating on an airship, manning cannons and firing countermeasures as you trade shots with your enemies.

Avast Behind... and other piratey jokes.

When you first spawn, you’ll be able to either jump on board a docked ship or take a glider up to one already engaged in combat. scrolling through the available ships will automatically steer your glider to that craft. Once you land, there are several roles you can then take. If the helm is free – or you outrank whoever is piloting – you can pilot the slow moving airships into better firing positions. You can fire any of the (up to) four guns or you can play a support role, fixing the ship up and spotting enemy ships.

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Combat is – at times – almost glacial with ships jockeying for position before taking shots at each other. Occasionally you’ll have the opportunity to leap onto an enemy  ship’s decks and fight hand to hand or drop grenades, but these moments are few and far between. It all comes down to tactical choices made in the heat of the battle. It’s all very good fun, but it certainly isn’t without flaws. Graphically, the game is good, but does suffer from a lot of glitching and slowdown when there are lots of people on screen. When I was taking screenshots, all of the characters models would sometimes vanish into thin air.

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There are some clipping plane errors, and the hitboxes for some of the ships are a bit bigger than actual graphics.

into the wild blue yonder!

Like any other primarily online shooter, AirBucaneers lives and dies on its community, and thankfully the veterans on the game are very open and very friendly. They also have a sense of humour – due to an ingame bet, my rather burly viking warrior is now named “Natalie Portman.”

To be honest, its a rather good thing that the community is willing to give advice, because the game itself does a frankly piss-poor job of its tutorial. A few on-screen text hints and a manual detailing the bare-bones controls is all you’re getting, making the first few games you play an annoying bout of trial-and-error.

You will see this screen. A lot.

What you’re getting with AirBuccaneers is fun. Its a damned entertaining game, and as its currently on sale for the Steam Greenlight anniversary, its also a bargain. Go on. Treat yourself.

(Also Published on Occasionally Angry Ranting.)

  • Mikko Skyttä

    Yes, there is no in-game tutorial to speak of. However, the 3 page pdf manual that comes with the game explains the basic controls and there is external guides:

    http://www.ludocraft.com/games/airbuccaneers/airbuccaneers-tutorials/
    http://steamcommunity.com/app/223630/guides/

    • Ben

      I’m aware of that, and I mention the manual in the review, but to be fair a first time player shouldn’t be put in the position of having to go look for tutorials outside the game. I love the game, but these aren’t good design choices, especially for one as Nuanced as AB.