Armada of the Damned was a planned spin-off of the Pirates of the Caribbean series that eschewed the franchise’s existing plot and high-profile talent for more original characters, stories and player agency. But despite only four months after being shown off at E3 2010, Disney cancelled the action RPG.
Eight years ago, the then-Kotaku editor Brian Crecente called Armada of the Damned as “a guilty pleasure”. The game asked players to choose whether they wanted to be a dreaded pirate or a legendary one – essentially choosing between fame or power – and the in-game world would respond to certain choices:
I did like the character design and look of the island itself. The quest sent me up and around an extinct volcano to retrieve the figurehead, where I finally confronted a a giant crab creature. After defeating it I replaced a missing totem on the island, removing the curse and restoring the islanders to their native state.
The game gave me the option to just return the totem or to recarve it to make it look like me. Something I couldn’t resist doing.
A post game video showed me that if I had returned to the island later I would have been greeted by the locals as their god. A nice little bonus.
The latest video from GVMERS covers the creation and cancellation of Armada of the Damned, which was made by Propaganda Games. Propaganda was founded by former EA Canada staffers, and their early projects was the mediocre reboot of the Turok games, and the Tron: Evolution tie-in game.
At the same time, Propaganda was working on a tie-in for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. The plan was to use the franchise as a canvas, creating original characters, a new plot and environments set before the events of the first film.
There’s a ton of potential for a Pirates of the Caribbean RPG, especially in a post-Shadow of Mordor world where the tech for fleshing out factions, NPCs and open worlds is vastly more advanced. But Disney’s ambitions for adult-themed video games, and video games in general, has vastly diminished. The House of Mouse cancelled Disney Infinity early last year, and Disney Interactive Studios (the corporation’s internal distributor and developer for video games) was shut down in 2016.