I have been very silent on this blog for quite some time, partially due to real life obligations, and partly because the bulk of my gaming time has been spent under a strict NDA. That NDA was dropped officially by Pirates of the Burning Sea, as they prepare to enter their open beta phase of development this week.
I am not going to give a run down of the game-play or mechanics in my observations, as Tobold, Keen and others in the blogosphere have fairly in depth looks at the game. My thoughts on Pirates after these messages…
Pirates of the Burning Sea is an amazing game conceptually, and very fun to play certain aspects. It is genuinely unique in many ways, and provides the subscriber a great deal of variety of game-play. At the same time, I couldn’t help but thinking that the execution of the design was some what flawed.
I started in Beta and played a bit with Ethic, and my first comments to him were along the lines of “What the hell is this crap!?” We tried a few quests, leveled a bit, and I eventually drifted back to WoW and on to LotRO and largely left my beta account lie dormant for a few months because the game was really tedious and poorly designed at the introduction levels.
During a major gaming lull after I cancelled LotRO, I picked up Pirates again, and joined a PvP society called Corte de la Sangre, in the Spanish nation. As one of the premier national societies I was quickly assisted with all of the basic necessities, and shown some of the finer points of the game. I was put into a ship building chain that was quite successful, and learned to really love and enjoy the game for its strengths.
I quickly leveled to 50 on my Privateer and spent basically every spare minute of my time flipping ports, PvPing with my society and national fleet and stealth solo PvPing, which is a talent skill specific to Privateers and Pirates.
I was thoroughly enjoying myself, but try as I may, I still couldn’t ignore the fact that the graphics are largely marginal with the exception of the Open Sea, Avatar combat seems like something that could have been a hit on the Atari, and the PvE game is repetitive, tedious and uninspired. You enjoy the game despite these drawbacks, but they certainly weigh heavily on my overall impressions. The thought of leveling an alt is up there with giving myself a lobotomy with a soup spoon.
Even so, I was all set to pre-order two copies for myself and my wife, grind my way past the terrible game-play to get to the very fun PvP, so I asked internally for a beta account for my wife, was granted one and she tried it…
She hated it. Her first impression of the game, after 20 minutes was, “I miss WoW.” So we are back in Azeroth and passing on this game.
Some problems I see for Pirates in the future, is the lack of end-game, national balance, 1-20 quest diversity and subscriber attrition as a result. I made numerous posts warning FLS that without major early game revisions, people would play levels 1-10 and then go back to [insert trendy MMO here]. They would never even experience the amazingly creative and well designed player economy, the exciting and well designed Open Sea and port battle PvP, the fantastic nationalism that develops as a result of those conflicts… They would experience third rate MMO game mechanics, UI functionality and quest depth and wonder how they got swindled into throwing away $50.00 for the box.
If you like the concept, are looking for something new, and have some degree of patience while they fix the problems, I strongly recommend you buy Pirates and give it a shot. For all its flaws, I would have bought it if it had registered well on the Wifeometer. I enjoyed my time in Beta and know that the game *can* be great if FLS stays committed to the updates as they did during beta, and maintains the openness and love for their game that was their strongest trait up until now.