By Amber "Aurael" Weldon
Pirate based games are as plentiful and varied as the fish in the sea. So its no surprise to find hiding among the big names like Pirates of the Burning Sea and Bounty Bay Online a free-to-play import called Pirate King Online, from MOLI. This colorful and cute MMORPG is not just any pirate game, however. In this game, players are free to choose between living as a pirate or joining the navy in defense against the scallywags. As one who has always had a certain affinity for pirates, I decided to venture into the world of Pirate King Online to test my mettle, and I was pleasantly surprised.
Installation and Character Creation
There are four character archetypes to choose from.
Installation begins by visiting the official website of Pirate King Online. There is a Bittorrent download available as well as four mirror sites (two for the U.S.). The game can be run on computers that are considered low-end systems, which is good for me since Im stuck on a computer that tends to tuck tail and run at the slightest sniff of eye candy. The game does not take that long to download on a high speed connection and the registration is relatively painless (though they did mention something about signing your life and piercing an ear hole).
Once I was all set to run the game client and log in, I chose a server and created a character. It was in this process that I discovered the first difference between Pirate King Online and other games that Ive played. Whenever it prompts you for your account password or your security code, you have the choice of either typing it in or using the soft keyboard they have available. This is to help with account security.
Once in, there are four character archetypes to choose from. Character class is dependent on which archetype you choose. I tend to lean towards female characters usually, but the way of the swordsman looked appealing to me, so I chose the gender allowed to become a swordsmanmale.
If there is one thing that the free-to-play games Ive played consistently lack, it is choice in character creation. The character creation screen only allows four ways to customize characters. The archetype you choose gives you your gender and body type, and then you can further customize your character only by name, face style and hair style. Of course, hair styles can later be altered by use of an item from the item mall and an NPC hair stylist.
Argent City is a bustling seaside city.
After your character is created, you must select your starting city and there are three to choose from. Argent City is a seaside town that is a strong center of trade. Shaitan City is known more for its manufacturing and is located in a desert-like area. Icicle city is actually a castle made of ice that is under siege by monsters. Any of the three cities provides ample opportunities for characters who are just beginning, although, my personal favorite is Argent City. It is, by far, the busiest of the three, which makes it easier to find a group or ask for help if needed.
My first task when I entered the game was to find the newbie guide. This is an NPC that will help you to get to know the game, the area, and will give you your first quests. In essence, the newbie guide is the games tutorial. It took me just a short while to find the NPC with the large green ! over her head. Like almost all of the NPCs in Pirate King Online, the guide is peppy and more than happy to help you get going.
The entire game could be played with only the use of your mouse. Movement is done by pointing and clicking on the user interface. Autorun is triggered by holding down the left mouse button, skills can be clicked on, opening anything (menus, character sheet, inventory) can all be done with a click. Chatting is the only thing that requires a keyboard. I have to admit that at first I was a bit disappointed by this, but then decided that it really gives a nostalgic feel to the game and it didnt take me long to get used to this method of moving and acting. You can still assign hotkeys to your function keys for skills and items by use of a toolbar located at the bottom of the user interface. Though there isnt an option to change the keybindings, the splash screen when the game is loading clues you in on a few of the keyboard shortcuts. The shortcuts are all combinations of the alt or ctrl keys with another. For example, to open the inventory, the shortcut is Alt-E.
Combat is easy.
It wasnt long into the tutorial that the guide sends you on your merry way to go kill helpless beasties. Combat is pretty simple; it requires simply a click on the beast you wish to kill. I found the downside to this when not using autorun to get around. It is very easy to click on a beast accidentally while trying to run.
Of course, in the process of learning that, I also learned that death happens in Pirate King Online. Those little mobs may look sweet and innocent but they are vicious when they are accidentally clicked on. Of course, I might be cranky too if someone clicked on me, accident or not. Death returned my character to the city or camp that I had recorded as my spawn point. Spawn points can be set by any NPC teleporter. These are usually found near the gates in cities and in some camps in the wilderness. The penalty of death is loss of life and you only recover a small amount back when revived.
I was a little disappointed by the lack of pirate-y goodness at the beginning of the game. For the first 10 levels, I was doing quests of the meeting helpful NPCs, killing small things to learn the basics of combat and exploring the city and nearby area variety. At level 10, however, things changed. First I had to pick a class, then I had quests to "prove" myself worthy of that class. Now the storyline quests have started as well. So far, I've gathered food for the navy and somehow poisoned them and am currently trying to find all the material for an antidote. There is a lot of direction given in the early quests, but once you have a class, you have to start figuring things out on your own. I'm still trying to escape being land-locked, and I havent yet decided whether or not I will end up a pirate or as part of the navy. At the beginning, the game is more about becoming familiar with the controls and the world rather than your future career goal.
Though I havent ventured too far into the world of Pirate King Online yet, I am really enjoying exploring. I have succeeded in choosing my class (swordsman) and am still searching for how I might go about finding a ship into the wild blue. My first impressions of this game leave me quite hopeful. The quests, while they are cookie-cutter beginner quests, are not entirely boring. Ill be spending the next few weeks working to delve further into the world of Pirate King Online and trying to experience all that the game has to offer.