Fantasy naval combat game Maelstrom is coming to Early Access in April

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Maelstrom is a game of "fantasy naval combat" set on an inundated world where land is at a premium and wars are fought constantly to control what little dry territory remains. In case that's not bad enough on its own, what lurks beneath the waves is even worse: Monstrous creatures, larger than the biggest ships, hunt the treacherous "Dead Waters," waiting to destroy any who cross their path.   

At first glance, Maelstrom sounds quite a bit like Sea of Thieves, but it's a faster-paced game, with ships controlled by single players rather than crews. Developer Gunpowder Games described it as kind of a cross between Sid Meier's Pirates! and the Man o' War tabletop game. The Orcs, Dwarves, and Humans will each bring unique abilities and tactics to the fight—Orcs are "brutal boarders," while Dwarven ships are slow but incredibly tough—but gameplay is more arcade-style than simulation, with "an emphasis on action and moment-to-moment choices."   

Maelstrom is on Kickstarter but the campaign is actually wrapping up instead of just beginning, and it's already achieved its $10,000 goal. That's a relatively tiny slice of a development budget, but the studio said the primary goal of the campaign is to help build a community around the game. 

"Maelstrom will launch on Early Access regardless of the funding goal but we're really behind on our community building," the studio said. "The Kickstarter is meant to help us connect with genuinely interested players, willing to back the product and help build the game with us before we launch on Early Access." 

The Kickstarter campaign says Maelstrom will be focused on multiplayer, but four-player co-op is on tap as a stretch goal at $30,000 and a full-on single-player campaign at $100,000. That's an awfully distant goal—the campaign is currently sitting at a little over $11,000 in funding, with five days to go—but never say never and all that. The Maelstrom Kickstarter ends on March 27, and will likely hit at least one stretch goal before it's all over, while the Early Access launch on Steam will follow on April 11.   

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.