A few people have asked me my opinion on Pirates of the Burning Sea so I thought I'd talk a bit about it here.
First of all, I am all for being a pirate. I would love a game where I could either be a pirate, or regularly interact with pirates in a very piratey way. This desire is currently in no small way enhanced by the fact that I watched all three Pirates of the Carribean movies on Blu-Ray this week, concluding last night with At World's End which I never got around to seeing in theaters.
That said, I tried the Pirates of the Burning Sea beta a month or two ago, and I was not at all impressed, though more than half the time I was unable to even log in due to lag or downed servers, so that may be to blame. The open beta started just a week ago, so I updated the client and decided to give it another go.
Of course with an open beta, lag was in abundance since they were clearly trying to stress their servers. That's fine. I decided to play French, because it was the least populated (gee... go figure) faction, the only one not listed as "Super Crazy Heavy Everyone Wants To Be A Pirate Fuck The Other Factions" Server Load. So I whipped up a privateer, and I will say that character creation is one of the game's strong points. While the graphics of Pirates are good, but not great, the customization options are plenty. Let's call it... better than WoW, but not as good as City of Heroes. You can create a fairly unique looking character to suit your seafaring needs, and be off.
Now, with the MMO genre I make it a point to reserve real judgment on a game until a month or two after retail release. Because, having played just about every major MMO release since UO, I know that all of them start with some problems, and most of them go through some pretty dramatic changes in the first month or two. Yes, even your precious WoW, as well-oiled a machine as it is now, was not without its problems at launch.
So my opinions on Pirates right now are just preliminary observations, and while they may prevent me from playing the game at launch, I will check in with the game a month or three later and see how its doing.
Some of my primary concerns are these, and they are pretty much all personal preference issues.
Everyone is a captain, nobody is a crewman. While yes, everyone wants to be a captain, it would have been neat to start with a small one-man ship, and earn larger ships that could carry crew and passengers. I think it would make sea warfare a lot more interesting if the captain was steering, and shouting out commands to his crew on the guns and sails. It almost feels a little bit like Star Wars Galaxies deciding to make Jedi available as a starting profession. That game and that class were a lot more special when Jedi were rare.
Also that the name of your ship isn't displayed to other players was sort of a "what the fuck" moment for me. I'm glad it displays for me in port, but hey, I already know the name of my ship. I wanted my ship to become known on the high seas. Instead I'm just "insert ship model name here" floating around out there. Hopefully that's something they rectify.
Ship to ship combat was fun, there's clearly a learning curve there, which I like. Hand to hand combat felt a little lacking to me. And, in what I played, there was little challenge in boarding an enemy ship or island. A dozen enemy crewmen and their captain, oh no! Wait, let's just kill the enemy captain first, not a hard thing to do, and all the crewmen just give up. Meh.
Anyway, so far its not "must play this game at launch" for me, but I am already actively playing two other MMOs at the moment. But it is Pirate enough that I'll follow the development through the end of beta and after release, to see what happens. But there's an open beta, so don't take my word for it. Try it out yourself.
(News Post title from one of the Threadless tees)