Atlas's Early Access voyage is off to a rocky start. Since it launched last week, players have been complaining about lag and server instability in the Grapeshot Games pirate MMO, and its similarity to Ark: Survival Evolved has led to accusations that it's just a reskin. As of writing, 74% of the user reviews on Steam are negative.

It's hard to avoid comparisons to Ark, which was developed by Grapeshot's sister company Studio Wildcard. The UI and mechanics are, at times, unerringly similar—one of the top posts on the Atlas subreddit calls it "Ark with a little bit of pirates".

Players have also criticised the game's food system, which requires you to balance your intake of vitamins A, B, C and D. It sounds fiddly and punishing: the top comment on this Reddit post, itself the top post on /r/games this week, described how you can "literally starve if you eat too much of" one vitamin.

PC Gamer's Joanna has been playing it since launch, and she too is far from impressed. She told me this morning that the UI is "terrible" and that lag had, at times, made it virtually unplayable.

"The first time I spawned I was in the middle of the ocean and I died trying to swim to shore because the lag was so bad", she said, adding that performance was choppy even on low graphics settings. She was also unable to connect to a server when she tried to launch the game this morning.

For what it's worth, Grapeshot is aware of Atlas's technical shortcomings, and is trying to improve it via patches, which you can read about here. Also, the plan is for it to be in Early Access for around two years, giving it plenty of time to evolve. But for now, I'd hold off, at least until performance improves. I'm looking forward to reading more fleshed-out thoughts from the team in the new year.