Mastfire Studios’ #Blackwake puts a unique spin on the traditional online multiplayer first-person shooter. Instead of machine guns and tanks, you’re tasked with crewing a circa 17th-century naval vessel. You have to work with your fellow crewmates as a team to load and fire cannons, repair the hull and sails, and both defend your ship from being boarded and board enemy ships.
Whether you’re on the British or the Pirate side, you’ll have to decide whether you want to be one of the crew, or if you want to take the responsibility of being the captain.
Where to start in Blackwake
Before you even think about becoming a captain in Blackwake, you need to learn the ins and outs of each role on a ship. While each crew member can do any task, you’ll often find yourself specializing in doing one particular thing each match.
The three most important functions for a deckhand are:
- Loading and firing the cannons
- Repairing holes in the ship
- Running the pumps when the ship is damaged to keep it from sinking
Mastering each of these tasks is essential for those wanting to play as a captain or a deckhand.
Before you can unleash the destructive might of your ship’s broadsides against your enemy, you have to load your cannons. Manning the guns takes coordination and teamwork.
You’ll never have one person to each cannon on a ship, so each crewmate has to maintain multiple cannons at once. To load a gun you need to:
- Insert gunpowder
- Then shot
- Then ram it down before you can push the cannon into firing position
Cannons can’t be precisely aimed, so you’ll have to learn how to guess best where cannonballs are going to land and your captain’s orders to hit anything.
Repairing the Ship
As you take fire from enemy vessels, you’ll have to work with your team to patch holes in the hull. As holes are blown in your ship, some of the crew will have to work the pumps to keep water from rapidly flooding your boat, and some will have to go to work sealing the holes to stop water from coming in.
If some of the team decide not to get on pumps or not enough of the team is working at sealing holes when you’ve taken severe damage, the whole effort will fall apart and the ship will sink.
Sails can also be damaged in Blackwake, and this can slow your ship down tremendously. Damage to the front of the ship can immobilize it entirely. Ignoring this damage and concentrating on the hull can be just as deadly as ignoring holes or pumping. If you’re stuck in one place, it doesn’t matter how many times you repair your ship; the enemy can just circle you and fire cannon at your ship at will.
Taking the captaincy
Once you have a few matches of experience under your belt, you’ll know enough to attempt to captain a vessel. However, you don’t simply get to choose to be a captain. The captains of each ship are voted upon by the crew.
Chances are that even if you throw your name in to be voted on, you won’t get to be captain every time. Also, being the leader requires quick, deliberate communication, so having a microphone is practically a must if you want to captain a ship successfully.
It falls to the captain to coordinate the efforts of the crew. You don’t have to load the cannons, and you can choose to only stand and command, though captains almost always pilot their vessel. The crew must rapidly change their stations to react to each situation.
As captain, you must continually be making decisions on what the best course of action will be. With the lower gunner’s vision mostly obscured by the hull, you need to point out whether they should man the port, starboard, bow, or aft cannons and tell them when to fire. Additionally, you should be coordinating the repair efforts when the ship is damaged by sending crew where they’re needed.
Which will you like better?
Being a crew member is a rewarding gaming experience. Blackwake has a unique way of making each member of the team essential to the overall survival of a ship. Each person must play their part to ensure the ship is dishing out damage and staying afloat, and if you’re a fan of strong teamwork, then staying a crew member will likely make you happiest.
A captain’s duties are coordination and communication. You’ll need to be able to quickly assess your situation and have the spatial coordination to direct your crew and your ship where they need to go. You’ll also need to be able to effectively communicate not only to your crew but the captains of other ships in your fleet. If you like strategy and coordinating, you’ll love being a captain.
There’s not a penalty for trying to be a captain, so even if you don’t think you’ll be particularly good at it, you should try it out. Keep in mind though that if your heart’s not into captaining a ship, then you’ll lower the quality of experience for other players.
The Blackwake community tends to be fairly helpful, even if the humor can be crude at times, and it’s easy to slip into the game and work as a team. Blackwake’s unique take on multiplayer makes it a blast, and if you’ve been looking for something a little different than the typical shoot-em-up, it might just be right up your alley.