The year is 1720, and three nations race to establish a grip on the
resource-rich coast of the Caribbean to boost the global influence of
their people. A fourth group competes as well--a group that shows
command your own vessel early on in Pirates
of the Burning Sea.
no flag and honors no king or queen. Welcome to the backdrop for
style="font-style: italic;">Pirates of the Burning Sea
(PotBS), where you'll take on the role of a patriot for England,
France, or Spain or commit to the life of a pirate as you battle on the
waters from Florida to South America.
In PotBS, developer Flying Lab Software and publisher Sony Online
Entertainment deliver an almost unprecedented game play experience.
Gamers can see the full world map from the moment they enter the game.
The point isn't for players to explore the world and find adventure but
rather to expand the sphere of influence for whichever of the four
factions they belong to and to increase their personal and national
wealth. Players must be ready, for the other three groups will
certainly stand in their way. And even within the pirate ranks,
different groups vie for power.
PotBS is built on a foundation of fairly solid historical accuracy, and
even though player actions will cause the game to deviate from the real
time line, Flying Lab Software wants to keep players immersed in a
world that feels real and believable even when the zombies come out at
night. As a result, players won't be
flinging spells or teleporting from one side of the Caribbean to the
other. The developers have seen to it that combat revolves around
different fighting styles and training emphases and travel takes time
and conveys a sense of grandiosity to the world.
Even the traditional notion of classes won't quite fit PotBS. At
character creation, players choose from one of four careers: pirate,
navy officer, freetrader, and privateer. Be sure to view the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/17602">character creation video
from the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show.
Pirate is both a choice of career and a declaration that a person
serves no country. Pirates tend to overlook little inconveniences like
laws and common decency, so they can steal ships when the going gets
can pick a career that matches their play style.
Pirates tend to hedonistic motivations.
Navy officers serve the throne of their nation on a commissioned ship
with an inexperienced crew. They're responsible for keeping the seas
safe for government-owned transport vehicles that ferry goods and
people about the Caribbean. Navy officers perform based on a high sense
of honor and patriotism.
Freetraders are the average citizens from their country trying to forge
a fortune in the new world. They are loyal to the throne but not bound
in service; thus, they can explore and seek legal profit. Freetraders
are pioneers at heart.
Finally, privateers are the bounty hunters of the seas. They take jobs
from the throne to hunt outlaws and make them pay for their crimes.
Privateers find motivation
in meting out justice on the high seas.
Flying Lab Software has tried to engineer a novel combat system for
PotBS, too. Melee combat, known as swashbuckling in the game, works on
the principle of using initiative to score deadly hits while
maintaining balance. Think of initiative as the magic points used in
most conventional massively-multiplayer online games. But unlike magic
points, initiative starts out at zero in battles and gamers must try to
build it up to dispatch foes. Meanwhile, balance rates a fighter's
chances of landing and avoiding blows. The more chances a player takes
to score a hit, the lower his balance goes. The result is a chess-like
system that adds elements of strategy to combat.
swashbuckling style has its strentghs and weaknesses.
No matter which career gamers choose, everyone knows how to do some
amount of fighting. The three fighting styles are known as Fencing,
Florentine, and Dirty Fighting. Each styles boasts something unique
that could bring an advantage against another style, but each one also
Fencing is a style of fighting using a rapier to strike fast and
precisely. Characters who use this style try to stay on the offensive
with rapid and frequent strikes.
The Florentine fighting style combines a short sword and dagger to
create a solid defense. Characters who use this style can parry
incoming blows with their two blades and wait patiently for the right
moment to land a hit of their own.
Dirty Fighting is the preferred fighting style for pirates and involves
the use of a cutlass. The wide blade is deadly, but it's the dirty part
of the fighting that wins the day. Characters who use this style resort
to tricks in battle; they might throw dirt in an opponent's eyes to
reduce his accuracy and defense.
Flying Lab Software knows that you can't have pirates and three nations
contending for the seas without ship-based combat. One of the most
heavily-touted aspects of PotBS is its ship-to-ship battles. Like
swashbuckling, this combat system involves some strategy and cunning.
Gamers can choose to just outright sink a ship, but there's no booty in
that, so it's usually better to board enemy vessels for the loot.
That's easier said than done, though, and players first need to disable
the ship enough to successfully grapple. And boarding is much easier
for astute players who thin the numbers of the enemy crew with
anti-personnel fire before boarding.
All told, a ship battle could involve maneuvering for the best position
to fire bar shot to damage the mast and sails. With the enemy vessel
crippled, a player could then use langridge shot to take out some of
the crew on the deck before grappling. Once the grapple is successful,
the boarding begins and a swashbuckling battle ensues. For more on ship
combat, see Ten Ton Hammer's href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/16385">interview with Game
Designer David Hunt.
Gamers who pre-ordered Pirates of
the Burning Sea have been able to play since January 7, 2008.
Retail boxes will arrive in stores January 22. In the meantime, the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/18366">subscription prices for
PotBS have been announced. Stay tuned as we continue to bring you
more news about this game, and look for my review coming up soon!
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