Leviathan: Warships hands-on preview and gameplay trailer
"Ship Just Got Real" is the tagline for Pieces Interactive's upcoming multiplayer naval combat game, Leviathan: Warships. Featuring co-op and skirmish play, Leviathan plays out in 10-second turns which are plotted out by each player before being executed simultaneously. It's a real-time twist on the asynchronous turn resolution of games like Hero Academy and MechWarrior Tactics. I got to become admiral of my own fleet at PDX Con and try my hand on the war-torn waves.
The framework of your Leviathan fleet is a Warhammer tabletop-esque point-buy system, with three tiers for Small, Medium, and Large fleets. Using these points, you can fully customize a handful of ship classes with different weapons, bridge types, speed-boosting modifications, energy shields, and more. Each hull has a limited number of hard points, which can generally fit one, bigger gun, or a couple smaller ones. The only limit to the type of fleet you can build is your point budget.
Shields and weapons are all directional, as well. You can save on points by loading up one side of your ship with a completely insane amount of guns while leaving the other side bare, but this opens up the possibility of your opponent out-maneuvering you and hitting your undefended broadside. Vision and weapon ranges also play a large role. You can only shoot what you can see, and most weapons have a minimum (as well as a maximum) range.
Going into a skirmish, I had a strategy in mind: load up a Dreadnaught (the largest ship class) with as many gigantic guns as possible, then spend the rest of my points on agile Scouts (the smallest class) with speed upgrades and pea shooters. I was looking to use the swift fodder as spotters for my big dog, who would ideally not even have to move. This played out as intended at first, with my Scouts fanning out across the fog of war over the embattled bay, looking to relay enemy positions back to the doom cannons waiting in the cove where I spawned.
Of course, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. When I finally found where the enemy fleet was hiding, they were just out of range of my big guns. I checked a few different attack patterns before submitting my turn: it was going to take at least 40 seconds (four whole turns) for my ponderous Dreadnaught to even get in range, and another 10 to turn the right direction for a broadside. While it was chugging along, a mid-class ship took out one of my Scouts, and my opponent's own Scout slipped through my lines to attack the Dreadnaught.
After several exchanges, we had both lost ships, but I noticed that my opponent was mainly focusing in on the high-HP Dreadnaught. In MMO terms, it was serving as a very threatening and effective tank. My Scouts weren't equipped for fighting—I had spent most of their point budgets on speed upgrades, throwing on only token weaponry. But with the enemy having closed to well within the minimum range of my Dreadnaught, and little chance of being able to outrun them, I had to change my tactics.
Over the next several turns, I proceeded to dart around and whittle away at the ships focused on my Dreadnaught with my Scouts, like a hive of angry wasps. By the time he realized he'd overcommitted, and could no longer escape from my stingers, it was too late. The Dreadnaught ended up only firing a couple shots the entire battle, and came out with only a sliver of health remaining, but I was victorious.
As with all asynchronous multiplayer, Leviathan runs the risk of games stalling for hours or days if your opponent is occupied with something else. But, of course, you can have as many matches running as you can handle. The tactical gameplay definitely has a lot of options and granularity, not to mention eSports potential with the readable, top-down, colorful graphics and interface. The depth of the fleet customization is also something we don't see enough of in strategy games these days. You can have "Your fleet," in the same way you have "Your Warhammer army," or "Your Magic deck," which adds a lot to the experience.
You can read more about Leviathan on the official site.