First off, a word on the voting. I have to say, I was really surprised at how close the votes were. There were five games that were neck-and-neck the entire time: EVE Online, Myst Online, PotBS, EverQuest's Progression server, and Battlestar Galactica Online. Looking at the top contenders, it's about as varied and as eclectic a mix of MMOs as you can find. I think it speaks volumes that Massively readers don't just want to see the "next big thing" -- you are just as interested in a well-established title like EVE as you are a classic revival like EQ's Progression server or even one that's had quite a roller coaster ride, like Myst Online. While I'm excited to jump in and play PotBS, the close voting has made me interested in checking out these other games later on after I finish this column.
Interestingly enough, Pirates is one that might fit all of those categories. It has been around now for three years and seems to have settled in well after a tough launch. It's also had some big changes recently, particularly the move to free-to-play. I actually tried it out during beta, and while I didn't end up buying it (because I was pretty heavily invested in EverQuest II at the time), I did find it a refreshing change from the pointy ears and flashy spell effects of the fantasy MMO genre.
I have followed the game on and off over the years and was always impressed at how it seemed to weather the storm well (no pun intended). Initially, those who tried it out seemed to agree that ship-to-ship combat was fun but that avatar combat, which apparently was hastily added before launch, left a lot to be desired. It's a daunting task to try to fix up fundamental gameplay issues while also trying to work on post-launch areas like expansions and new features. The team at Flying Labs
seems to have done a good job of working on both at the same time; it has revamped avatar combat as well as graphics and lighting. In addition, the devs have added new missions, faction rewards, and a new Port Conquest system that was part of the expansion Power and Prestige
After downloading the game through the Station Launcher, I fired it up and began to create my character. But what to choose? Should I hail the Queen and join the British? Would I prefer the cunning French? What about exploring the New World before it was the New World, as part of the Spanish Armada? All of those sounded great, but in the end, I had to yield to temptation -- it was a pirate's life for me.
I had fun creating my character. Big worn coat, huge gold hoop earrings, bright red eyepatch, and... sandals! As much as I liked the different styles of boots, I settled on a much more casual look. On my ship, every day is casual Friday.
I like to create all my usual character names, so after I made my pirate, I went back to the character creation screen to make my usual suspects. This time around, I thought I'd make something more honorable, like a British Naval Officer. Of course, I discovered that once you pick your path, all of your characters have to follow the same choice.
I proceeded to start up the tutorial and found it helpful in getting used to the UI. There's a lot to take in -- the simple things, like inventory management and combat icons, all looked foreign to me, so it took me some time to get the hang of it. On top of that, I had to learn the mechanics of ship combat, which is not something I'm used to in an MMO. So yes, I ran into the headwind a bit at first and then almost ran aground when I finally got up to speed. But I slowly got the hang of it, and I finished the tutorial eager to explore the world and sink some ships.
In my six-week adventure, there are several areas that I hope to explore. Three, though, have really caught my eye:
If you currently belong to one or run one, I definitely would like to hear from you! From what I can tell in my brief taste of the game, it seems that this is a game where player and society interaction play a huge role. I always enjoy MMOs more when I'm doing stuff with others, and I'm curious about how quickly a new player can jump on that on-ramp and hang with the crowd.
I used to be a big broker junkie in EverQuest
, but since then, I haven't really had much interest in the side-game of playing the MMO market. While I'm still scrambling to learn, I am interested in learning more about the player-driven economy of PotBS
. The last time I experienced regional trade was in Vanguard
, and that never really seemed to work as well as I hoped.
. I'm going to put out the disclaimer right now that I am lousy at PvP. Having said that, I'm looking forward to testing out my PvP skills on the high seas.
But before I do that, I need you to help me choose my path for next week. Even though I completed the early tutorials for a Cutthroat Pirate, part of me still wants to try out other combinations. So help me choose! This poll will be a quick one, so get your votes in by Thursday, April 21st at 12:00 p.m. noon EDT. I'll be playing the winning choice on Friday night at 9:00 p.m. EDT and will tweet other game times for next week. In addition, if you have experience playing Pirates
, I'd love to hear from you, so please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. This scurvy rat could use all the help she can get!
Join Karen on an adventure of your choosing! She's used to calling the shots, but in this Choose My Adventure, she's putty in your hands and ready to follow your whim. It's up to you to chart her course and join in on the fun! Follow Karen on Twitter for playtimes and updates, and come back each week to decide her fate.