Joystiq E3 hands-on: Age of Booty

Tragically, Age of Booty may receive our second-annual award for "worst game title," but this should not at all reflect on the game's quality. Once known as Plunder, Age of Booty is a name change and not much else from the game we've had a positive hands-on experience with in the past.

Age of Booty is an RTS action/European board game expected sometime this fall and the title already feels incredibly polished. It will release with a fairly robust map editor to create and share user-generated content for the game on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Yeah, but in this age of microtransaction shenanigans, where's the catch? We were informed that DLC for the game will actually involve legitimate expansion content. As a Capcom representative informed us, "We're not going to nickle and dime with this game."
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It's a good thing too, because developer Certain Affinity has a good thing going with Age of Booty that is difficult to explain; however, after trying it, it'll be hard to put it down. We can't wait to see if playing 8 player games online in teams (or solo) is a casually intense experience or just a frustrating clusterfrack.

As explained in our previous hands-on, the game is about collecting items by sailing over them with a pirate ship on a hexagonal board, upgrading the ship with the items received, taking over strategic points to upgrade the ship and maintaining a certain number of nodes to win the game. The game can be set up on many pre-installed map variations as a free-for-all or team match.

The other interesting thing is that there won't be ranked matches. Usually we frown on this because it means that there isn't a "set" mode for an even playing field online. Capcom tells us that they want users to play this game with friends they actually enjoy playing with and that if they go into the Wild West of random matchmaking, that the host has the ability to boot any offending players.

We also asked about lag, a significant issue with even some of the most basic XBLA games. Capcom tells us that the developers at Certain Affinity were some of the same folks behind Halo 3's multiplayer. We've been assured that online lag will not be an issue when the game ships.

Our time with Age of Booty was very enjoyable and we really wanted to have more time and invite some friends to play. There appears to be a lot of depth in something that is being touted as a "casual" title. This game could be a treasure worth spending your hard-earned booty on when it ships this fall. We'll let you know what date to mark with an X when we hear of a release date.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.