Sea Dogs Setting Sail

Bethesda to publish a strategic role-playing game based on 17th-century naval combat in the Caribbean.

Bethesda visited GameSpot's offices to show its forthcoming software lineup, which includes Sea Dogs, a 3D role-playing game with strategic elements that puts you in the role of a 17th-century sea captain. The game is being designed by Russian development house Akella.

Sea Dogs is reminiscent of other pirate games, such as the classic Sid Meier's Pirates! and more recent games like Man of War II and Cutthroats. What immediately distinguishes Sea Dogs from the rest is its 3D graphics engine, which features fully 3D-rendered galleons and battleships all built to scale, floating on the undulating Caribbean sea. The 3D engine renders each part of a ship as a unique, destructible object; during battle, you might lose individual crew members and cannons or find new holes in your sails and scorch marks on your hull. You commandeer your craft from a first-person perspective, though you can also switch to a third-person view outside the ship. In battle, you'll need to account for your ammunition, the quality of your crew and equipment, wind direction, weather conditions, and more. And the high-quality 3D graphics will ensure that battles in Sea Dogs will look realistic and dramatic.

But sea battle is just one component of the game. You'll begin by creating a character, who can affiliate himself with the English, the Spanish, the French, or the pirates. You'll sail to many different port towns and island strongholds throughout the Caribbean as you try to build your reputation and negotiate deals. You can make money as a trader or pillage money as a pirate on the high seas. Bethesda stresses that the game will let you play however you like - in fact, Bethesda compares Sea Dogs to its sprawling RPG The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall, a game that's famously enormous in its size and scope.

As you earn money in Sea Dogs, you'll be able to upgrade your vessel or buy a new one altogether; buy additional ammunition; hire various crew members, such as boatswains, master gunners, ship surgeons, and more; commission additional captains to join your fleet; and become more reputable throughout the Caribbean. You'll have a chance to complete all sorts of different quests and objectives throughout your career, but your eventual goal is to claim all the ports under your own flag, either through careful negotiation or through brute force. You'll actually get to walk through the various port towns in full 3D and even engage in swashbuckling duels with your rivals.

Sea Dogs is an ambitious game, and it looks promising. The game will be released in Russia late this summer and will subsequently be released in the United States in the late fall or early winter. Until then, have a look at these screenshots taken from the current build of the game.

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