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Vicarious Existence

To blog about what is going on in the MMO genre from a casual MMO player's viewpoint.

Author: UnSub

The Twelve Trials of UnSub: Pirates of the Burning Sea

Posted by UnSub Friday January 23 2009 at 1:35AM
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Ever logged into a MMO only to feel like you were the only player in the entire world? 

Welcome to my Pirates of the Burning Sea (POTBS) trial experience. During my 8 day trial, I didn't see, hear, talk to or generally even find any evidence of other players, down to the auction house that had no player generated listings. Although nice to have my own server, it left things feeling decidedly empty. I even tried the perfect method of finding other players - I, in my newbie fresh meat trial form, turned the PvP flag on - but still saw no one. Hmmm.

Perhaps it was because of the trial I was on. Thanks to Gamearena / Telstra BigPond, there is a long-running free trial for POTBS available. However, given that the original server for this offer is shutting down, I don't think it was that successful.

So, picking the Defiant server - the new one, the server supposedly that players were moving to - I created a character. As an Australian, being French or British held no appeal, being a Pirate was too cliched, so I went with Spain. Since I still wanted to be a bit morally flexible, Privateer was the best class for me.

I'll start off by saying you can make some absolutely great looking avatars in POBTS even at start-up. There is a lot of flexibility to look like a sea captain straight off instead of the typical "brown pyjamas" costume that a lot of MMOs start players off with.

Even beginning captains can look in POBTS.

Even newbie captains can look good in POBTS.

From this point, quests split into one of two types - either blow something up with your ship or kill opponents in hand-to-hand combat. Ship combat was both fun and frustrating - fun because there was a definite tactical aspect that had to be learned, but also frustrating when stuck turned into the wind or against opponents you would not be able to defeat (my lvl 8 Privateer found a lvl 11 British frigate in a mission that made short work of me). And, although it was fun to pick a tactic against a target - do I take out the crew and board them? Do I take out the sails? etc - the reality was a lot of time is spent waiting for your cannons to reload to take another shot.

Hand-to-hand avatar combat also had some positives - and made for a nice change of pace from the ship missions - but it felt at times like a less flashy and slower version of City of Heroes / Villains combat. I did like that the sword attacks often had area effects in front of you like the blade was live, but there was a disconnect in action of using the sword and its animation on screen. Hand-to-hand just lacked the connection that such close quarters combat should have to make the situation involving.

Given I seemed to be the only Spanish player online, I thought I'd switch sides and become a Pirate to see if anyone else was around. Unfortunately once you pick a side you are fixed to it, so I was stuck being the only Spanish character online.

All the crafting, trading,  shipyards etc aspects also seemed nice from afar, but I was bewildered at the array of options so never did anything other than assign what I collected as loot to character / ship inventory slots.

Perhaps my play experience would be different on another server, but I really didn't find much to hold me to POTBS. The ship content was different, but cursing your vessel as you were stuck into the wind and being pounded by enemy cannons eroded some of the fun of (for example) running a blockade. Hand-to-hand combat lacked that connection I needed to draw me in. Although POTBS looks good and appears to offer players a lot of options, it didn't have what I needed to keep me playing.

Besides, being the only player in a world built for thousands just makes things seem really, really shallow.

Death1942 writes:

yay Unsub is back.  Also nice to see another Aussie on these forums :).


I played Potbs back in beta (when there were players) and afew problems made me leave.  My main gripe with the game was i could not be a trader as the price i got for hauling cargo from one port to the next was exactly the same price as it cost to buy/produce.  Player run economies are crap if its poorly run (like this one was) so i was letdown in my backup plan too (sell stuff on the auction house)

Fri Jan 23 2009 3:22AM Report
Sargoth writes:

The guns are what did it for me.  It took way to freaking long to reload.  I couldn't stand it.  I felt like I could plot out my entire career based on the length of reloading. 

Fri Jan 23 2009 8:41AM Report
reillan writes:

If you even notice how long it takes to fire, you're doing it wrong.  Ship combat is all about finding ways to use the wind better than your opponent, to close in quickly and begin pounding him broadsides, or strafe across his bow and unload 100 cannons into him, then turn and unload the other side.  Doing it very well requires constant attention to the flow of battle - like a game of chess, you have to predict how your opponents' moves and your own will set you both up for the next cannon volley, and make sure yours is superior.

I unfortunately agree with the other combats, though.

Fri Jan 23 2009 9:22AM Report
sanders01 writes:

 Blackbeard or Antigua. Your only 2 choices for servers, really. Once you get on one of them, the game is fine.

Fri Jan 23 2009 6:41PM Report
DJXeon writes:

Most of the spanish on defiant have just capitulated to Antigua

You could noy have picked a worse nation for your trial, the Brits & French are where the action is on Defiant right now.

Antigua has by far the highest populations,

Fri Jan 23 2009 8:17PM Report writes:
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