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What the Atlas Trailer Taught Me

You probably heard about the "open-world pirate MMO" called Atlas. It's made by the same people who made Ark. Yes, that alone throws out red flags. Those red flags kept me from impulse buying and jumping in on day one.

I am so glad I waited. Check out this video that shows how the trailer for Atlas differs from reality.


The Atlas trailer and marketing made the game out to be this pirate world experience full of adventure and action; All those 'perfect' moments of gameplay we all want.

What players got was Ark, and an experience full of infinite frustration, bugs, and glitches. The developers trolled and hyped people up just to drop a lie on them. I think chat calls it "jebaited".

So let's get to what I learned from this experience of watching the trailer and seeing the reality as well as the reaction from the players.

People actually want the game shown in the trailer!

People are upset because the game they were shown and promised actually looks fun. If that's obvious to you, then it begs the question "why hasn't it been done?"

There's an opportunity right there to make a game that A LOT of people want to play. For proof of that look no further than the dozens of mega streamers with hundreds of thousands of viewers poised to watch, and the thousands of negative reviews on Steam saying it wasn't what they were promised and wanted.

  • All of the spastic streamers hungry for views however they come, and the a.d.h.d gamers who can’t understand what early access is…

    If you watch the streamers who stuck with it, you CAN play the game in the trailer… the progress has taken us there.

    The game has a lot of potential… but its going to take some time w/ development and bugs. But this is not a Bless situation.

    • I can’t argue with you there about the streamers and their viewers. They’ve screwed up this industry about as bad as any developer could.

      I’m not sure I believe in the game being true to what was advertised, though.

      Some semblance of the game in the trailer may be there for the select few — particularly those who end up on private servers with enhanced skill gain rates.

      I know that Ark offered a lot to the dedicated minority. Typically games like this with grinds and community requirements do. But for the vast majority of the players, I don’t see how what’s shown in the trailers will come close to matching what they’ll play within the first 100+ hours of the game.

    • This is essentially what I was thinking. That trailer is ultimately flawed by trying to compare the ‘high-octane’ toddler infused shenanigans most streamers stand with today.

      Not to mention, its almost impossible to expect a game to look as fantastical and deep as a trailer would quote it as. If you take snippets, with expert camera angles and well placed music, you can make almost any piece of gaming content feel epic.

  • Yet, Atlas is in the top ten most played games on Steam.

    It is also the top played MMO at the moment, if you don’t count Path of Exile and Warframe as MMO’s (which you arguably shouldn’t as they instanced, and Atlas is actually not).

    So Atlas is definitely delivering what a large group of people want, despite the glitches. By any definition, that’s a success.

    • I think that just illustrates my point, though. Atlas as advertised is the game people want. That’s why they flocked there in droves. Tons and tons of people are playing or at least tried to play. Tons and tons of people have and will continue to quit when they see it’s not as advertised. Those who remain are, as I noted in reply to Lethality above, going to find their enjoyment in a very niche way.

      I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t classify Atlas any more of an MMO than Path of Exile, though. And I don’t classify Path of Exile as a MMO. Atlas has “main” servers that are basically clusters of “mini servers” which each hold 150 people. So you’re basically just playing on a 150 person server at any given time. Semantics have robbed this industry of our ability to define a game as “MMO” by gameplay, but you hopefully get my point.

    • Just for accuracy’s sake, Atlas is in the top ten most played games on Steam, and yet has a 72% negative rating.

      I personally have difficulty with the “…but it is still in early access” argument as it is highly unlikely that a large majority of players that negatively rated Atlas are unfamiliar with the well established concept of early access, and as such their combined assessments more likely reflect inherent flaws in the game itself even taking into account it’s early access status.

  • People were claiming this game was so bad that playing the game has become a meme. I even saw one streamer put a banner on his stream that said “I’m playing this game as a meme, do not buy this”. The negativity being piled on this game has become a meme in itself to me. Atlas is not a bad game, certainly not bad enough to warrant the amount of negativity it is getting.

    I went into this game expecting Ark with pirates, and that’s what I got. The lead up to, and the first day of early access release, was a shit show of course, but any online game that draws in this scale of playerbase is going to be so. It was indeed unplayable in the starter zones for the first day, but when I finally sailed to a non-starter grid, it was totally playable.

    There is content missing, there are bugs, there are server problems here and there, there is no polish, but this game is “early access”, with an officialy stated development period of 2 years. Perhaps the trailer is misleading, but anyone with half a brain can surmise that a 2 year development period, early access title, based on ark, is not going to be anything like what was shown in the trailer. People need to stop buying early access titles expecting a release level of quality.

    I played upwards of 500hrs in early access ark (pre scorched earth), and I totally got my money’s worth of enjoyment out of it, and I fully expect to get the same out of Atlas (already clocked 56 hrs). If I voiced this opinion on mainstream discussion platforms, I would probably get accused of being a fanboy, but that is so far from the truth. Yes I do enjoy survival games a lot, but I play a lot of different games, and I’m always scouring steam for the next thing to try.

    Thankfully the bad press hasn’t caused an unhealthy population in game at the moment, and I hope it stays that way.

  • I was interested in Atlas from the moment it was annouinced, even though i am not a fan or pirates or survival games and have never even thought of playing ARK. I watched the furore around the launch with interest. I went to Steam and read a few dozen of the negative reviews. Almost without exception they were reviews of the actual catastrophic launch, which seemed very little different to any other catastrophic MMO launch, of which there have been more than I can remember.

    I held off buying the game, even though I think it’s very cheap. I continued to follow the story in the gaming media, though, and I continued to check Steam every day and monitor the reviews. After a few days I saw the overall review score had improved (albeit only from “Extremely Negative” to “Mostly Negative”. At that point I started filtering the reviews so I could read the Positive ones and a very different narrative emerged.

    The people giving Atlas good reviews all had one thing in common: they had played long enough to get out of the starter area and to cross a zone line to the open world. At they point, universally, they reported a completely different experience. They found a wealth of content, a great deal of the promised features and a huge world. They also reported that the crippling lag of the starting areas vanished, along with the rubberbanding. These were players who had already played for a dozen hours at least and were having fun.

    Last night I bought Atlas. As I said, it’s cheap, and it’s even cheaper right now with a 17% discount. I am going to install it over the New Year, when I have a few days free, because it’s a massive download (100GB) and I need to move some stuff around arious HDs to make space. Then I will log in, see if my machine can run it (I’m over minimum spec but not by a lot) and if it can I’ll try to get out of the starter area so I can find out if the positive reports are true.

    Either way, I think Atlas is going to end up being an interesting and successful game. Plenty of MMOs and other online games have had similarly appalling launches and equally terrible reviews but the ones with developers who stuck at it and eventually provided something recognizeably close to their original promise found that bad publicity eventually melted away.

    (I might cannibalize this comment for a post of my own, it’s gotten that long, so apologies for the duplication!)

    • Definitely report back on the experience, or let me know when you write something up.

      I’m currently watching a fairly large but rational streamer play. He’s punching alligators and gathering materials to build a ship. He has a few friends around that seem to all be funneling resources to his favor. He’s not surrounded by the voice screamers or the gorilla arm disproportionate players there to troll.

      The trick? He’s playing on a PRIVATE server.

      Atlas looks identical to Ark. Replace dinosaurs with other animals and add big pirate ships. The fun is found on the small, private community servers. Not the public ones. Not the ones that make this even remotely close to a “MMO”.

  • I can’t wait for a developer to wise up and tell people “Don’t buy this game”.. “don’t expect this…”.. “this stuff won’t be accessible until you’ve played at lest 50+ hours”… set the expectations low and over-deliver and people will love it… the anti-hype is the new hype.

  • Thanks for sharing that vid, it made me laugh so hard my throat hurt.

    It seems to be the difference between viewing the 1812 Overture performed by the London Philharmonic versus an elementary school class on plastic recorders.

  • That trailer vs reality video reminds me of one released for ark:

    Anyone who has played Ark for some time knows that the reality lies somewhere in between the two depicted in this video, and I suspect the same to be true for Atlas.

    • You’re right, of course. I think the video took the games failings to an extreme and a spectacle. The game isn’t what they’re advertising, but it’s also not what the streamers are portraying.

  • I can’t fault Atlas too much for the trailer deception. Most games do this. The game isn’t completely awful anymore now that they added the feature to actually log-in. Survival games are big enough that even this trash fire won’t dissuade too many people, add the fact they slapped the MMO tag on this baby and you have a best seller.