Ever fancied getting out on the open sea, hoisting a sail and exploring far away lands but held off because it was too expensive? Well now the solution is here, MarineVerse Cup has just been released so entering the world of VR sailing has never been easier. Time to put on my life jacket and find my whistle before diving into this open water experience.
Don’t Leave Home Without Your Jar Of Dirt
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MarineVerse Cup starts with a tutorial, I can skip this, but unfortunately my sailing knowledge is as absent as a trophy in Tottenham’s trophy cabinet so I need it. The tutorial took me through the basics of maneuvering around the dock and the boats, there were little quizzes to make sure I knew my tiller from my mainsail and my knowledge of sailing grew. Soon Captain Jack Sparrow would have nothing on me and I would be feared by all who dare cross me. Unfortunately sailing the high seas and plundering for gold is not an option in MarineVerse Cup, so I had to settle for racing around buoys against some bots, or some other sailors from around the world.
The controls are a bit hit and miss for me. I wanted to feel the exhilaration of actually sailing so I decided to use the manual method of the controls. Authenticity is something I feel strongly about, so I plonked myself down on the floor (after asking the dog to politely vacate the room). I positioned myself on the edge of the dinghy as real sailor would do and I was away. I used the controller in one hand to grab the tiller and the other hand I used to control the mainsail. For those who don’t know much about sailing you have to catch as much wind as you can to go faster, so the mainsail is constantly being moved to get the prime speed for the direction. I found that whilst looking forward, or where I was going, I could not control the tiller that altered the boat’s course as it was behind me and I ended up having to look around a lot to get the controls to work. Fortunately this is not the only way to control your vessel, I could also use the thumb sticks to adjust direction. I ended up using a combination of both to enable as realistic experience as possible.
Sitting on the floor in a dingy, is not ideal because as the dingy turned the sail would switch sides and tilted me away from the wind. This left me sitting on the lower edge of the dingy and water seemed to find it’s way in to give me some company. I then had to move to the other side to counterbalance but as I moved I was now having my legs dangle over the edge and all the controls were behind me so I had to do a 180 degree spin on my backside to get back into position. This is not great and in a race scenario it will cost time. I decided to stand up and raise the floor level so it just looked like I was sitting. This is an excellent feature that is so quick to implement. I improved my time massively.
I was presented with a list of tasks to complete to enable me to improve my ranking. These tasks took me through ever more challenging scenarios to improve my helmsmanship. Once I was onboard the yacht and out of the dingy MarineVerse Cup improved dramatically. This boat had a lot more places to stand and more wheels and pulleys to play with. By this time I had essentially given up on realism and I was just using the sticks to control all the sails and the direction and I was loving it.
The yacht races in MarineVerse Cup consist of racing around buoys in a certain order. The order is presented at the beginning of the race. There are usually three buoys in all and it doesn’t matter which location you are in they are always in the same place. The wind seems to also always come from roughly the same direction for each course, so the only real difference between Cape Town and Sydney is the background. This is effectively like driving the same roads with different scenery. Whilst none of this really matters at the end of the day, I think it would have been nice to maybe have sailed into Sydney harbour and had a look at the opera house. When moving house it’s all about location, but in MarineVerse Cup it makes no difference at all, in fact when you are racing you are so in the zone that you could be almost anywhere.
MarineVerse Cup is split into leagues, so the more you race the better you get the higher the league position you will be in. There are general leagues as well as country specific leagues. When you sign up you get emails through letting you know is someone has beaten your time so if you have any attempts left you can try and beat them, but beware, your last time counts, not your fastest. You get rated in the World and your country, so you are always trying to increase your position.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The good thing about MarineVerse Cup is that it is a good way to learn more and practice some real life skills. The simplicity of the race means that it is fairly easy to get to grips with what you are doing and can be quite the accomplished yachts person in a short amount of time. Getting accomplished however does not necessarily mean that you’ll be winning any races, because getting good takes a fair bit of time and a lot of patience and on occasion an expletive. The free sailing is also great as you can learn without the pressure of the race environment. Practice makes perfect and learning the best position for the sails in all winds can be a great advantage.
Unfortunately there is a lot that MarineVerse Cup could do better, so despite the upcoming criticism, I hope that developers are already on the case to improve the game. I found a distinct lack of atmosphere whilst playing, it was all very much a gentle race which in itself seems an oxymoron. The lack of variety was daunting and some days I had to convince myself to play as I already know the course and the only difference will be the ghost ships of the other competitors. I never felt the exhilaration that I would have hoped to get from a VR experience and all in all everything seemed just a bit flat. Racing at slow speeds whilst tacking into the wind is one of the most frustrating sensations, however, I am guessing it’s very realistic as well.
Now for the ugly. Well to be fair, there’s no real ugly in this game, I just really like old westerns. Maybe a little improvement when moving around the dock area would be good, but that’s really just personal preference.
There are a variety of mini games that you can do as well to get better at manoeuvring your vessel. There are also scoreboards for these so get yourself up these rankings and claim the adoration that is due. MarineVerse Cup is all about challenging yourself as much as it is the other players.
Graphics & Audio
MarineVerse Cup doesn’t push the boat out with the graphics, it is fair to say that it has quite a simplistic look to everything. This however doesn’t matter at all as once you’re in a race, all you are interested in is the speed and the compass. Unfortunately racing isn’t the only activity that you can do, so depending on how you play, the graphics can be a little disappointing when cruising around soaking up the atmosphere. The cat is a nice touch though, and fortunately it’s a friendly one.
The audio on MarineVerse Cup is a good mix of atmosphere and irritation. When you are in a race it’s easy to be focused on the task at hand and not really pay much attention to the sounds, but in the free sailing they suddenly seem to become more noticeable. There are general warnings about flappy sails that can be useful when the mainsail obscures the view, and there are also positive comments for a good start. The general sound effects are not the best, ranging from what can only be described as a fart in the bath to the irritating scraping of parts that need a little more WD40. If fairness, they could be better, but they could also be worse.
MarineVerse Cup is designed to be a long term game. It takes patience and time to get good as racing a boat is nothing like racing a car. There’s no track for starters, no breaking points to learn, the wind changes to alter your speed and sometimes your direction, it’s a logistical nightmare. Persevere and getting good is always on the cards. The discord page is alive with chatter about the game and the community is very friendly. MarineVerse Cup will be around for a long time, and will be picking up new users for a long time as well, I can see myself still playing way into the future as I need to regain my crown in the UK. You only have a limited amount of attempts at each daily race, so if that’s all you’re interested in then there is only a limited amount of time to play every day.
I didn’t suffer any issues with motion sickness in the yacht, but after a few mini games in a row in the dinghy my sea legs did visit me and I felt a little queasy. I didn’t have to stop playing, I just switched back to the yacht until it faded.
MarineVerse Cup fulfils the brief very well, there are 7 destinations to visit, many different modes including 4 different vessels, mini games and training as well as the races. I became borderline addicted and would be up early every morning to set my initial time in the yacht races. There is a shallow learning curve to sail the boat, but a steep one to snatch the vital seconds to increase your position. The easy to learn and hard to master may put some people off, but I think it works well.
Whilst everything is done well, my only real reservation is that there isn’t enough to do. I would like to see some epic races around far more distant buoys that you get one shot at. Hopefully the developers will be on the case soon.
I have decided that MarineVerse Cup sails into a Thumb Culture Silver Award spot.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.