Maelstrom – Preview
Follow Genre: Action, PVP, Naval warfare
Developer: Gunpowder Games, LLC
Publisher: Gunpowder Games, LLC
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Maelstrom – Preview

Good: Concept, Raw fun, Already great for an Early Access title
Bad: Needs more modes
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(2 votes)
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Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)

A Maelstrom is a powerful whirlpool, but not one of the pleasant kind, as it’s best avoided if you ever want to make it out of the water alive. This is also a fitting name for a game that revolves around PvP with boats, with around 15 players waging war in order to get the most loot and be the last ship sailing. Of course, not only ships will be your enemies, as monsters lurk the seas, and even, yes, maelstroms will be present on the maps, which will tear your ship to shreds as if it was a simple piece of paper. Maelstrom is currently in Early Access and already has a decent player base, showing a lot of promise to become the next big thing on the competitive circuit.


Maelstorm comes without a storyline, and you’ll just be thrown into a tutorial that teaches you the ropes. It seems this world is divided into three factions or races, namely the humans, the orcs and the dwarves, each having three different ship models. There is no indication on why everyone is fighting, or why it’s a free for all, even among the same races, but we reckon it’s just a pirate society where it’s the survival of the fittest. Other than that, the game uses very appealing aesthetics, making for a visually likeable game with lifelike water, very attractive boat models and overall lovely maps. The maps currently aren’t that diverse, but they still provide enough fun, as it’s hard to navigate through every nook and cranny.

The concept of the game is simple, you pick a boat, you get a free captain (new update) and you just join the matchmaking and go for the gold. It’s all about crushing the competition and bringing home as much loot as possible. Sometimes you can barely make a kill, but you collect money before other players or you destroy small NPC ships and you can still get a proper reward. Finishing in high places however will earn you crew mates and captains, which can be equipped for your ship. Keep in mind, you can’t mingle races, thus a dwarven crew goes on a dwarven ship, and the orcs don’t play nicely with the humans and so on.

Maelstrom 1

Even though crew and captains will certainly aid you in your quest of being the ruler of the seas, they don’t give you a massive advantage over other players, keeping the scales in balance. The crew members give you passive bonuses, which may aid you in terms of armor, acceleration, critical chance and many other items, while the captain will give you a unique ability to use, ranging from shields, mines to torpedoes and blazing fire. Other than that, you can upgrade your boats, which will once again not add that many bonuses, but after a while you can opt to install other cannons, other armor, better speed etc, which will suit your play style better. Keep in mind, advantages come at a cost, as more damage may come with a shorter firing range, and better armor might slow your ship down or make it harder to maneuver, so you’ll have to tinker with what suits you best.

Like many PvP games nowadays, you’ll be pitted together with fourteen other players, or fifteen when playing in teams of two and you’ll be thrown on a fairly big map. To prevent the matches to continue forever, the available area of the map will slowly shrink with time, making certain areas off limits. If you find yourself brave enough to venture in waters that are now deemed dangerous, you’ll meet your certain demise in a matter of seconds, as giant sea monsters will simply smash your boat to smithereens. The latter can feel a bit random at times, as some players will be killed in seconds, while others can stay in the waters for a long time, as it all depends on where the monsters spawn.

Maelstrom 2

In its current state the game doesn’t have that many modes, namely you’ll only be able to choose between the free for all, and the team battles, which limits you to teams of eight teams of  two players. This means that you won’t be able to play the game with a lot of friends just yet, but we reckon more modes will be added in the future. The game however is already loads of fun, thanks to the different ships, the upgrades, the unlockable crew members and captains and its fairly simple controls. Keep in mind that you’re working with boats, which means that changing course isn’t that easy, that bigger ships are slower, and that you’re limited to firing in the direction of your mounted controls. Maelstrom also works with a controller, and it does so in a reasonably easy fashion, but changing the direction of your fire isn’t as fast as when you play with keyboard and mouse, creating a slight disadvantage for those playing with a controller.


Maelstrom is currently a diamond in the rough, that simply needs a few more game modes and maps before it reaches its true potential. While buying a game in Early Access is always a risk, we feel like this one is well worth the purchase, not only because of the available content, but thanks to the already fairly big player base, which ensures a steady cash flow for the developers to further tweak their already fun game. If you’re heavily into competitive games, naval warfare and otherwise great visuals, then Maelstrom will certainly float your boat.

Maelstrom 3

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Maelstrom - Preview, 9.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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