Preview: Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned

This week at E3, Disney was showing off its latest Pirates of the Caribbean game, with nary a movie in sight. Armada of the Damned is being developed by Propaganda Games, creators of the most recent Turok titles, and it's ambitious: An open-world action-RPG with a morality system, based on the popular license but not on any specific movie.

And it's shaping up pretty well -- the short demo took us through one of the game's quests, with main character Captain Sterling fighting through cursed tribesmen up a live volcano to their (literally) crabby leader. %Gallery-95741%
If anything, the game feels like Fable. While it's far too early to actually compare it to that game (and that title's awesome customization isn't found here -- you can choose your weapons, but not your outfits), it feels the same: running a third-person character around a lush environment, hacking and slashing and shooting your way through bad guys for XP and money. Obviously, the spellset isn't as broad, but there are "spells" of a certain kind, like debuffs that cause problems for your enemies.

Those abilities are one of the many things governed by the morality system -- in the game, you can choose to become Legendary or Dreaded, and that affects all sorts of things, from the way that you look and move to the loot, the story and cutscenes that you get to see. Dreaded is "about embracing the supernatural, living on the outskirts of society," I was told, and Legendary "is all about seeking celebrity, all about agility and swashbuckling."

There's a lot of the game that's yet to be revealed -- just playing through the demo, you don't really get the sense that it's an open world game, but Propaganda says that yes, you'll be wandering the Caribbean, with even things like trading and attacking merchant ships to do. Ship combat is included, of course, but Propaganda wasn't ready to share details on that yet, other than to say that "it feels very different, it's not the top down, kind of slowly navigate around" variety.

The developer also hinted that your ship and its crew will play a big part in character customization, whether you choose the Legendary or Dreaded path -- "We want you to care about your ship," Proganda reps told us, "as much as you care about your player character."

But none of that was shown off in this demo yet. What is there looks good -- the combat was solid, if a little shallow, and the graphics and polish are well on their way. Hopefully the rest of the game will emerge through the fog before it's released early next year.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.