While lots of people have gone through the early game a few times already (and you can right now in the open beta), I was very interested to see what FLS had in store for us at later levels. Read on to see where the folks from Flying Labs teleported us to, and just a taste of what players can expect to see in the PotBS endgame.
We all joined up in the starting Pirate town, and the rep from FLS talked us through the early parts of the game (that I had played through before). She explained that every level, you get either a swashbuckling or a sailing point, and that at the trainer you can then spend those points on various skills. Some are pretty standard for MMOs-- there's a taunt skill for swashbuckling, and both schools offer skills that up your defenses while fighting-- while others are a little more piratey: you can train in a skill that will let you elbow an opponent in the face while at the swashbuckling trainer, and at the ship skills trainer, you can spec into a tree called "Flogging"; beating your crew while out at sea causes them to reload faster.
But once we were specced up and ready to go, we were transported off to Port Royal, a replica of a real-life British town, straight out of pirate history. Once there, the FLS rep took us to meet a monkey.
Monkey Island Rum," you can make an organ grinder monkey throw a tomato at a guy in a stockade. Not exactly what I would show off if I was given the task of leading a tour around the game, but that's their call, I guess. "Where to next?" our host asked, and I said I wanted to see the Ghost Ship (and the game's little-previewed supernatural elements), so off we went.
Still, it was a pretty spooky ghost ship-- it was night out, and eerie ghost shapes floated around and across the bow of the creaking ship. We weren't able to go below decks at all (or at least I couldn't find a door that led below), and when I asked if the ship would be something players would see on the open sea and be able to approach, our host answered that yes, that probably would be the plan.
After that, we ran two encounters-- one swashbuckling mission, and a ship-to-ship encounter. I'd played through both of those kinds of encounters before, and while we were playing at a higher level than I'd ever played (they powerleveled us to 16), I didn't find the experiences much different than they were at the early levels. You can read more about how those work on our mission preview, or just go play the open beta yourself. Stay tuned to Massively for more on how combat works in the game, both in swashbuckling and ship-to-ship encounters.
From what I saw in the press tour, there are some interesting areas in the endgame of PotBS, but it's too bad that mood and atmosphere isn't really seen as spectacularly in the early parts of the game. The big question will be whether players stick with the game long enough to get through the early levels and stay for the long haul to see what FLS has done with the endgame. Both the Ghost Ship and Tortuga look like they would be interesting places to play through as pirates, but players won't actually know for sure until they work their way up through the midgame.