Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Awesome

Pirates of the Burning Sea at E3 2007

by Phil "Ralphedelominius" Comeau

Yarr! Yo Ho Ho and other salty piratey sayings - one of our first visits of E3 2007 was to SOE’s digs and the helm of the Pirates of the Burning Sea station. Grab a mug of grog and kick back while we relate a tale of lusty lasses, booming broadsides, and cacophonous cannon-fire.

In case you’re a clueless land-lubber, here’s the low-down: Pirates of the Burning Sea is an MMO that features “high seas action and adventure in a bold world of pirates and plunder. Set against the backdrop of the New World of the 18th Century, players can choose one of three nations – England, France or Spain – or choose the role of a Pirate and battle it out for glory and power.” Major features of the game include real-time ship-to-ship combat, boarding actions, ‘Avatar Combat’ play (read: swordfighting and swashbuckling!), a territorial Conquest system whereby players can conquer and control ports and installations, and an economy completely run by the players themselves. Pirate fun at its best, to be sure!

Flying Lab’s CEO Russell Williams was on hand to give us a quick run-down on the latest happenings with the Beta test currently in progress and an overview of things to come. The studio is just putting the finishing touches on a very large Beta build that they’re going to release very soon, and here’s the great news for you budding swashbucklers out there – they plan to increase the Beta tester pool to about five times its current size! If you’re not in there already, your chance is coming soon.

Nature loves a balance!
You know what they say - Nature loves a balance.

With Lead Designer Kevin Maginn at the controls, we got a good look at Avatar Combat in PotBS. Characters have the choice of specializing in one of three different fighting styles; Dirty Fighting (‘Foot Stomp’ and ‘Sand in Face’!!), Florentine (with dual-wielding goodness), and Rapier (for the fencing purist). Each of these ‘Fighting Schools’ (Don’t they know the First rule of Fight School: Don’t talk about Fight School!?) is comprised of 9 chains of skill, each with 5 levels of accomplishment, for a total of 45 available skills. You gain skill points as you level, to a max of 26 – the first point buys your School choice, and the next 25 go towards your skill selection. A skill falls into one of six categories – Prepatory Attacks, Basic Attacks, Passive, Defensive, Special, and Finishing Moves. If you find yourself unhappy with your choices at some point in the future, there will be a ‘respec’ feature where you can get a refund of your points and rebuild your selections again from scratch.

As described in our June ‘07 Q&A with Kevin, your avatar is shown with a large blue “Balance Ring” at his feet. As your character activates skills or is affected by enemies and loses his balance, the ring shortens graphically to indicate your state. Lose too much Balance, and your enemies have a much easier time inflicting damage as you struggle to defend against their attacks.

Yarr!  Bend over and prepare to be boarded.
Yarr! Bend over and prepare to be boarded.

Avatar Combat is complemented by an expansive quest system that looks to be guaranteed to keep you busy on and off-shore. Players will be able to take quests as they wish, but those that choose to follow the embedded storyline will be treated to some special content that involves them further in the backstory built into Pirates of the Burning Sea. Another great facet of Avatar Combat is the Boarding Action – ships can come together at sea in a crash of hull and rigging, where crews battle each other for their lives!

At the heart of the game lies the ship-to-ship combat. I have yet to see more stunning visuals of ocean and waves in any game: the attention to detail is simply amazing. You might think, “Water effects? Big deal!” – but you couldn’t be more wrong. The art of ship and water make for great immersion in the nautical theme…

What, you didn’t think you’d get out of this article without ONE horrible pun, did you?

 My 16-pounder is bigger than yours.
My 16-pounder is bigger than yours.

We were running out of time at this point, so we were only able to see a small bit of ship-to-ship action. The combat system and on-screen UI look to be well-polished and intuitive, simple to learn while still presenting a challenge for aspiring Fleet Admirals. With the Beta test opening up to more players in the very near future, things are sure to get interesting indeed for Flying Labs!

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016