The new ATLAS game is a P2P open-world pirate-themed survival PvP and PvE MMORPG video game from Studio Wildcard that was released for early access on December 22 ,2018. This game marks a benchmark, as it aspires to be the largest MMO game currently available, with servers that are able to simultaneously host over 40,000 players on a single world. In order to host that many players, Studio Wildcard has designed the map to be 1,200 times the size of Ark: Survival Evolved’s map, which is the predecessor of this game. This makes the map 45,000 km2, with 150 characters spawned per square on the grid. Players can toggle between first- and third-person perspectives.
Once upon a time there was a golden age where mythical beings lived in a country above the clouds, alongside other magical creatures. However, a powerful warlord decided to claim the source of the country’s power as his own. During the war that followed, the powerful artifact was shattered into pieces and scattered throughout the world below. Without it, the floating country disintegrated, with all of the inhabitants and structures plunging into the oceans below. From the remains of those beings came the current inhabitants of the word, as well as the various magical creatures that can be found on certain islands. Players will also have to contend with the undead hordes that are still under the control of the vengeful warlord who still hopes to retrieve the pieces of the artifact and claim the power for himself.
After many generations, the ocean dwellers known as the ‘Pathfinders’ decided to emerge from the oceans to explore the land above and to seek out the scattered pieces of the artifact. These ‘Pathfinders’ need to survive in this untamed new world, claim their stakes and defend their loot and property to the death. Players can opt to work either in teams or solo, but it seems that the game very much leans towards the team-based approach. Players can explore the world, discover quests and form partnerships and, trade-conglomerates and political agreements with other players and groups in order to slowly dominate the game.
ATLAS’s map comprises of over 700 Islands, across which new players will be placed. While they cannot select the exact Island that they will spawn on, they can choose from one of four regions. Whether they are playing in a PvP or purely PvE environment will be determined by which server they select to play on in their region, with only one of each server being available per region.
Once their character has awoken on a shoreline, players will need to explore their surroundings and gather whatever clothing and equipment that they can. Once they have the right tools, they can mine, chop wood and break open crates and barrels to find new items and crafting materials. Eventually they should have enough resources to build themselves bases and ships on which to respawn.
Team-work and cooperation play a large part in the gameplay, as there are a wide-variety of skills required to progress. For instance, the cooking skill takes time to learn, which is necessary to produce more advanced food that is capable of increasing the nutritional bars more rapidly. So, too players will need to build sails, rudders, etc. for their ships, each of which take time and resources to build as well as the necessary skill sets and levels. Players can therefore opt to form companies and share bases, boats and respawn sites.
Players can respawn wherever they build a bed and claim part of an island with their flag. Of course, all of this can be challenged and conquered by other players, so it is a good idea to have back-up bases and ships ult. If players split up on separate boats, they can fast travel between respawn sites (i.e. the beds on each-other’s boats) therefore making tag-teaming and resource acquisition more efficient.
Players can also recruit AI characters to their crew and farms, which will help both team and solo-players to progress.
Survival in ATLAS isn’t limited to scrounging and amassing weaponry and crafting materials for building bases and ships. Players are also required to keep their characters fed, hydrated and appropriately clothed. Furthermore, players will need to ensure to the nutritional value of the food, with all food being allocated certain vitamins and minerals that the character needs to stay healthy. These are indicated by colored bars on the right of the screen. If a player is at a low level, it’s a good idea for them to initially remain in safe-zones when on the PvP server. While there, they should gather resources, and develop their crafting, swimming and hunting skills in order to gather and store as many resources as possible for their journey. Players should also note that over-eating and filling health-bars passed capacity will have a negative effect on gamepley. For example, eating too much meat and over-filling the pink health bar will cause their screen to turn a green hue until the character’s bar has returned to normal levels.
Once they have built a raft and sailed to a new island, these skills will help them to survive against the aggressive wildlife and PvPers that may be lurking around. They will also need to build fires to cook certain foods such as meat and fish, as well as to warm their characters in cold climates and from the nightly chill.
As they level up, their characters will also be able to learn skills that increase their production output, as well as food, building, item and equipment Players can store fresh water in flasks and barrels and can store food in crafted containers.
Clothing is important in this game, as climate impacts bodily function. Therefore, when characters are in colder climates, it is advisable for players to craft warm clothing to prevent their character’s from becoming hungry faster.
When players are considering hunting a creature, they can hover over it with the mouse to see the minimum level required for their character to stand a chance against it. Players can carry up to 250kg worth of items, which is why crafting storage boxes and other storage items is essential to game play, aside from also ensuring that the items are safe from PKers. However, this is only possible if players build password-protected locks onto their boxes.
This is especially important considering that when players log-out the game, their avatar remains sleeping defenseless on the ground. This is possibly another use for buying an NPC crew. Players will only risk losing their positions when killed by fellow players. But there are ways for players to steal other players’ NPC crew, so this game is not for the faint of heart. Otherwise, if they are killed by NPC characters, they can retrieve their loot nearby the place where they were killed.
As players explore the various islands that they visit, these areas will appear on their maps and they will reveal Discovery zones and earn experience points with which to upgrade their boat. Upgrades include supportable weight, the number of passengers and other upgrades. Different islands also provide access to new animals and different resources for crafting purposes. Players also have a level cap that can only be increased per new grid-border that players move across.
Players will only be able to design their characters at the beginning of the game. But, the extent of the customizations is great. Players can adjust the arm length, hair length, finger width, weight, fitness level eye color, skin tone and more. Their character will also age in real-time, have hair growth and die. They will then be reincarnated as their character’s offspring, so that they don’t lose any game progress. However, if players want to retain their characters, they can try to discover the Fountain of Youth.
More experience means higher levels, which allows them to add new stats and skills to their skill trees. Fortunately, these allocations are not permanent, and players can reset and reallocate their stats whenever they want. As you level up, the new craftable options and learnable skills will appear in the tabs under that skill tree block. Each item will show the craft recipe when the player hovers over it with the mouse. Crafting items can be gathered by gathering, hunting trading and by opening chests and breaking open sealed containers such as barrels.
There are items such as clothing, equipment, crafting recipes, craftable crew members and dyes that are purchasable from NPC venders in towns, so it’s advisable for players to speak with them to see what they have to offer. There will also be early access and additional skin options available for purchase with real-world money.
Ships can be upgraded and customized as characters gain new skills and explore new grids. Personalized enhancements include painting their ships, installing canons and other weaponry, as well as creating pixel-by-pixel flag designs. Ships, as with all other equipment in ATLAS, wear down over time or as a result of external factors such as attacks by enemies or hurricanes, so players need to monitor their ships and apply repairs, or they my risk losing both their ship and cargo.
There are over fifty creatures in the game, many of which are tamable and tradable. Players can level up on their beast-training skills to acquire more advanced mounts and pets. This is not confirmed, but it is rumored that players may even be able to train dragons.