As the Pirates of the Burning Sea BETA (PotBS) comes to a close, I’ve quested, tested, PVP’d and crafted. I branched out from my original character who was a Free Trader to try Naval Officer, Privateer and Pirate. I moved away from being PVE focused to initiating combat with NPCs to establish unrest and PVP targets to see how I’d fare. If I had to give it an all around rating on its appeal in my humble opinion, I’d say PotBS probably rates 6 out of 10. Again, this is highly predicated on personal priorities and preferences.
If user interface polish is your nitpick then you’d score it lower than 6. If engaging in sea combat and PVP are a priority then higher. If by chance, playing a seafaring game is your number one priority then you’re going to tip the scale very close to 8 – possibly even higher. If heavily instanced/zoned games bother you then you might go as low as rating it a 4. If immediate accessibility is important to you then it might deserve a 7. Rating the worthiness of PotBS really depends on why you’re playing it and how long you’re willing to give the game to work out the things you can’t live with and just get over the rest.
For me it comes down to graphics quality, overall polish, user interface design and customization, combat accessibility and opportunity to achieve, exploration, crafting and fun. These are the things that make or break a game for me. The first set of items, graphics through the UI are closer to a 4 for my tastes – no exploration, limited customization of a rudimentary UI that I didn’t find appealing and in some cases detrimental to my game play because I could barely read the text, and there were some walls of text that should be voice-overs.
When it comes to combat accessibility and the opportunity to achieve, be it against NPCs or other players, it has to rank very high. Although a lot of finesse can be employed to tip the balance of a fight, it is incredibly easy to just get started. If I compare the PVP combat to other games I’ve played where PVP was a focal point, I would rate PotBS an 8. New players who have a brain and pay attention will be competitive within a reasonable amount of time.
Crafting is there without the usual gathering and production grind. (As a side note, I must admit that I don’t mind farming – never have minded. I grind to level so farming nodes it just another type of grinding but to me, that’s not grinding because I get to say when, where and how much. But force me into the same instance ad nauseum and that’s grinding.) Crafting in PotBS is much more about strategy, monitoring the market and responding quickly. I think there’s potential here but I did find it extremely confusing and difficult to determine what I could produce with what resource materials, how to go about the necessary combines/preparation and surprisingly, I was stumped about how to transfer the items to my vessel for transport to the port that I thought would give me the best selling prices on the Auction House. As a result, although crafting is always one of my favorite things to do in a game and this one has a lot of promise, I have to give it a lukewarm 5 for now.
Rating the fun-factor is much harder than the other elements I use to judge a game. Is playing PotBS fun? Sure, what’s not fun about sailing around and blowing shit up. What wouldn’t be fun about kicking some Pirate’s ass who initiated the fight while you were minding your own business, only to find himself out played and his ship blown to bits. *Evil grin* I can’t imagine what was going through their minds, as I slowly and methodically ate every Pirate who attacked me for dessert. I’ve yet to die to another player. The total of 7 durability points lost across 4 ships were all at the hands of NPCs – damn their digital souls. I wanted to post a complaint on the BETA forums that having a convoy of 3 NPC ships engage a lower ranked SINGLE ship is rather unfair, definitely not good sportsmanship and the game AI shouldn’t make those types of choices. But oh well, I died no point in crying over it. Regardless of those loses, was all of that fun? Hell yes, it was fun.
My only reservation on a high fun-factor rating is that the UI and heavy zoning really diminished my gaming experience because the mechanics are so IN MY FACE annoying. The more you quest the more you zone (into buildings and out, into rooms and out, into the actual quest and out). There were literally times I stopped playing because it was aggravating me so much. There’s nothing I can do to avoid the mechanics so I have to take that into account as it does affect how much fun I’m having in-game. The result of which drops something that might be a 9 fun-factor for someone else, to something as low as 6.5 for me.
Averaged out, that would have me at roughly 5.9 in an overall rating of whether or not I’d personally buy and play, Pirates of the Burning Sea. That’s a decent showing for a new MMO and explains why some evenings I think, “Sure, might as well buy it as not.” While other nights I lean toward, “Hmm, maybe I should just give Eve Online one more try first.” I don’t know where I stand for sure. I threw away money on Vanguard and Lord of the Rings Online. Vanguard I can just skip explaining. Against LOTRO which had lots of polish, decent UI, exceptional built-in lore for RP, exploration and robust crafting, PotBS about equal except that I can play PotBS solo advance my level and earn coin for a much longer period of time, than I could in LOTRO. As a working professional with lots of demands on my time, that is an important factor.
In conclusion, this game is 6 out of 10 for me and is really on the cusp of what I’d be willing to spend money on for a few months of MMO pleasure. I can’t say with certainty what I’m going to do, but at the present I’m leaning more toward a buy than not, especially when I factor in that my Sony Station Access subscription would allow me to play this game without incurring any additional monthly fees.
A few random images: