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With the NDA lifted on Pirates of The Burning Sea, Flying Labs invited me to take a tour of their game. Of course I jumped at the chance, and now report back with my thoughts on what I saw. As a special treat, at the end of this preview, we also have a couple links to a exclusive treasure troves of video and screenshots from the game.

I started out by using the character creator to make my female pirate. The character creation is quite robust as far as appearance. Each country has their own unique flavor of characters, with many options to customize your looks. Everything from hats to eye patches, to jewelry is included. I have to admit, the female characters in this game are hot! Whatever artist came up with the characters in this game deserves a pat on the back.

We then went on a tour of each country’s main city in the game. Each city has the feel of belonging to their respective country, whether it be England, France, Spain or even the Pirates city of Tortuga. Each city of course had shops, taverns and the normal things expected in towns. What really stood out was the attention to the feel of each city though. In Tortuga for example, the jail cells, with rotting corpses hanging on the walls, gave the city a real pirate feel, whereas in another town you can get a monkey to throw a rotten tomato at a criminal who is chained up. You might ask why would you want a monkey to throw a rotten tomato at someone, my answer would be, why wouldn’t you? Each town feels like a living breathing town.

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We then traveled to the Ghost Ship! That’s right, Pirates of The Burning Sea has ghost ships! I was told that it won’t be easy to find, and you will need to be well prepared to fight it. They are ghosts after all; a normal sword won’t cut it. You will have to visit graves and other interesting places, following rumors and searching all over to find out where the ship is, and more importantly, how to fight it. The ship as you can see in the video was well done, the ghosts raising out of the decks, and swirling around the ship as the full moon shines down. Unfortunately we weren’t able to actually fight the ghost ship on the tour, but I must admit, I am looking forward to doing so soon.

We then hopped in our ships and headed out on the open seas for what is at the heart of this game. Ship combat! We had level 15 ships as we headed out on the open seas, where we quickly came across a ship well over level 40. What was cool about ship combat in the game is that level does not equal victory. In PotBS, a cannon ball does X amount of damage, it doesn’t matter if you are level 5 or 50. The same damage is done from a cannon. Sure there are plenty advantages to being higher level, skills that allow you to fire faster, or turn quicker, but a player that really knows what he is doing, has a real chance of beating a ship far above his level. This was refreshing to see, especially in a game where PvP areas can open up around you, it is nice knowing that when that high level player starts chasing you, it doesn’t mean you are dead.

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We then tried out a bit of the Avatar combat, or sword fighting the game has to offer. The sword combat uses attacks and skills to knock your enemies off balance and then strike the big blows. You have options to block, dodge, as well as how you want to swing your sword. To be honest, this was one of the weakest areas of the game for me personally. There was nothing downright broken about sword fighting, but at no point was I really excited during it. The mechanic was easy enough to learn, but with all of the attention paid to ship combat, and crafting, the sword combat seemed a bit simple. I believe I will be living on my ship as much as possible.

We then finished up the tour with a bit more action on the open seas.

In general, the game is well made, with a lot of attention paid to ship combat; the cities, the crafting, all first-rate. If you played Sid Meier’s Pirates, you will feel very familiar with PotBS. The ship combat and controls are easy to learn, and pretty intuitive.

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The economy is entirely player driven. This does create a few issues. In order to keep a player driven economy going, you have to have players that take pretty severe losses. This game is not for the squeamish or casual player.

Death in this game really hurts. You lose all of the cargo you are carrying, and if you die enough times you will lose your ship. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; many games enjoy a challenge like this. People, who like games like Eve, will love this game. A casual gamer, or one that doesn’t like the idea of paying a big price if they die, will hate it. With that said, I applaud Flying Labs for not making a cookie cutter MMO. I believe Pirates of the Burning Sea will find a niche market, but a successful one.

Pirates of the Burning Sea launches on January 22nd.


We hope you enjoyed this taste of what is coming. Now check out our two galleries from Beta:

We look forward to your comments.

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