It’s a good problem to have, but it’s a problem nonetheless. Leviathan: Warships leaves me wanting more, and a little dissatisfied because it’s not a more comprehensive offering right out of digital box. For $10 I don’t expect a feast, but Leviathan seems to have set sail into a pond, not an ocean. Fortunately, it’s a pond that’s been well-stocked with fun.
To be clear, I am far from exhausting Leviathan. I’ve spent about ten hours with it so far and will probably spend several more with it. I’ve played several missions of the campaign, done some co-op with Tim and Julian, and played lots of multiplayer matches with friends and strangers.
It succeeds in what it sets out to do: it is a fun and fast-paced naval wargame, with attractive graphics and weapons effects that give a cool sci-fi twist to the age of ironclads. Each ship comes with a ton of configuration options, and I’ve racked my brain trying to find just the right mix of weaponry and maneuverability to win my battles. The battles themselves only take a few minutes via an asynchronous multiplayer system whose chief drawback is an occasional shortage of opponents (made worse by having Leviathan’s players scattered across several different servers).
There are a couple key trade-offs at work. Most weapons have a maximum and a minimum range, and each weapons emplacement has a fairly narrow firing arc. This is a universe where turrets don’t rotate very far, which is a useful contrivance for encouraging lots of maneuvering beyond simply lining up your fleet and going blow-for-blow with the enemy. Longer-range weapons tend to be the most powerful, but they are also the slowest-firing and the easiest to dodge. Furthermore, their range is far longer than the sight-range of the ship carrying them, so powerful battleships require outriders to spot targets.
The question for the ship-designer is whether you gamble on being able to keep the fight at optimum range, or hedge your bets by outfitting a mix of long and short-range weapons that could be vital if you get rushed. There are no easy answers, and it’s exciting to take a custom fleet up against someone else’s to see how their approach to the problem contrasts with yours.