Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts Review – To Battle stations!

A buggy pearl of the sea!

DISCLOSURE: This game was reviewed on the following platform: PC – Check out our Review Policy page for more information.

It’s a momentous occasion for developers when they finally get out of Early Access and do their big 1.0 release for the public to enjoy. Old fans of the game often give them applause and support them further in the future.

Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts is one of those games that came out of Early Access and is now fully released. The game lets you design ships from as far back as the 1890s to the 1940s. Still, some players think that the game was released a bit too early with a lot of things still missing in the release.

In this article, we’ll look deeper into the game to see its strengths and weaknesses to see if it was truly too early.

To Battle stations! | Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts Review

Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts recently released on Steam, and for a long time it’s been in Early Access. Even longer than that was off steam on their own website, and I myself actually bought and played it before it ever came to Steam.

The game back then and now has a lot of big differences but it’s not a massive overhaul and still has some things that stuck and they’re not just the good things too.

The Good

Designing a ship in the game can be quite fun, especially if you’re a naval history nerd like me. Trying to recreate the historical ships in the game like the Mikasa from the 1900s to the World War 2 Battlecruiser Hood and its rival the Bismarck. Of course, you can make the famous HMS Dreadnought as well, the one that started the whole battleship era.

The game has a campaign spanning from the early times before World War 1 to the later years of World War 2. In those times you can choose from around 10 nations: the USA, Russia, Japan, British Empire, France, Germany, Italy, China, and Spain.

You get to play as the naval leader of the country and you get to design the ships for your nation, along with the research and finances. The campaign can be fun and can easily take hours of your life in a blink.

The graphics of the game, while not hyper-realistic can be quite pretty at times, the details on your ship, the haze from the heat of the ship’s funnels, and the smoke belching from them are all beautifully rendered. The explosions that hit ships and the fires that spread through the deck along with the impact graphics of shells add to the beauty of the battle.

The Bad

Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts advertises itself as “a true naval warfare game” and a “first of its kind” on its Steam page. That sounds grand but if you actually look around the internet you should see that there’s a game that predates this one that has similar if not more content. The game is called “Rule the Waves 2” and is a 2D naval warfare game similar to this one.

The difference besides graphics is that that game features aircraft carriers and missiles as well and even has a new game coming up which is Rule the Waves 3.

There are some weird things going on in the background of this game. When you start a new campaign, even if it’s on an SSD it still loads slowly. I once started a campaign in the 1900s and it took 5 minutes to load it. It’s worse the farther you set the starting point. The game simulates each month till the starting point to create a unique campaign each time. You’d think turning the AI Opponent to “Historical” would load a template of a historical game but it still goes through the same process.

Speaking of Historical, even with the full release of the game lacks certain ship designs. Ship hulls are the main culprit here with the game only giving you a handful of famous ship hulls to choose from. Despite the wide selection of ship hulls, it’s still laughably small to how many different hulls there were in real life.

This makes making ships close to historical ones a challenge if they’re not well known like the Yamato or the Bismarck. For example, if I wanted to make a Myōkō-class Heavy Cruiser I simply can’t make it due to the fact that the game doesn’t have a hull that has torpedo launcher ports in the hull.

The designer can be finicky as well, the game tries its best to highlight what’s wrong with the design but sometimes it fails to do so, making you check every part to see what’s wrong. Sometimes you correct that wrong and the designer simply doesn’t let you save.

The game itself can have performance issues, from crashes to frame drops to overall poor performance. In large battles, the game slows down to a crawl even with the strongest PCs. Sometimes the game even chugs at the designer’s screen as well, making the game feel sluggish in general.

The Ugly

The developers of this game, Game-Labs, have made a lot of great games like Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail and the Ultimate General series. They also made Naval Action, another naval game that went free to play. That game ticked off a lot of players because of how they mishandled the game. The backlash was so bad that it turned a mostly positive rating of the game into mixed.

Going back to the game, the learning curve of this game is akin to the cliffs of Dover overlooking the English channel, which is very steep. I went into this game already having some knowledge on how a ship in these time periods can run and it was still a challenge to learn, I can imagine someone completely new to the game and this part of history can be completely lost.

Then there are some questionable game mechanics, like how torpedoes are often useless since the AI dodges them the moment your ship fires them while you have to use your imperfect eyes and awareness to dodge theirs. You can’t invade minor nations in the campaign and naval invasions are simply not worth it at any time period because of how easily you lose.

Many long-time supporters of the game say that the release of the game was too early, that there was still not enough content around, and that there are still bugs that were present a long time ago. Indeed the game is filled with all sorts of bugs, from save files being corrupted to the ship designer being wonky and sometimes outright not working.

People report bugs that have been in a game for a long time like how convoy attack missions end after defeating the escorts and robbing the player of points for sinking the convoys. The recent patch has made gun accuracy wonky at best and downright bad at worst. Refitting ships in the campaign can sometimes cause a crash that corrupts your save. Defeating an entire nation crashes the game, which can sometimes brick your save and a lot more other bugs.


The game can be fun but the bugs and problems it currently has can easily ruin it for most people. Still, there’s a great game under all those bugs and hopefully, that game can be fully realized. For now, I’ll give it a final score of 3/5, it’s got a long way to go but it’s still a good game.

Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts Review

Jon Suan

Historical Accuracy


The game has hours and hours of fun content for any naval game fans out there. The campaign itself can clock you hours and even days of gameplay from researching and managing resources and fleets to designing a ship to keep up with the new ages. Despite the game not being one of a kind in terms of its genre, this game stands tall for its graphics and ease of access compared to games like Rule The Waves.

Still, the game is riddled with bugs, many of which I had to remove from the review because it would be too long. The game was released on Steam and it’s taking the Triple A route in terms of release, which sounds like a compliment but these days it’s not. It’s another game that’s on the list of “Release now, fix later” and it could have been easily out of that list if it just waited.


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