Choose My Adventure: Out of drydock!

It was a happy return to the high seas for Arienne Sauvage. You might have noticed that Choose My Adventure went dark for a couple of weeks, and that's because of the unexpected downtime from the attack on Sony Online Entertainment. Now that things are back up and running, I'm ready to set sail for the last few entries of my adventure in Pirates of the Burning Sea.

Join me this week as I evaluate the Welcome Back rewards, polish up my ship combat skills, and search for buried treasure!

A hearty welcome

The good news is that all Captain's Club members will receive 45 days of game time from SOE as part of its Welcome Back program. In addition, everyone who logs in between the release of update 2.5 and 2.6 will receive 800 Burning Sea points. Eight hundred points would buy a couple of bonus experience books or a nice starter ship, with enough coin left over for a fun pet rat or parrot.

So far, it seems that activity on the high seas is alive and well. The chat channels were as active as ever, and there were plenty of ships out and about. On Monday night, there were so many British ships outside of Marsh Harbor that I had to wonder what was up. It certainly made me happy that I haven't turned on my PvP tag!

Ship combat

Playing a Pirate Buccaneer is fun because I get to scavenge derelict ships. I've begun a nice little collection of captured ships, and it's amusing to try them out, take them for a test drive, and see which one fits my playstyle. I've also been trying to decide what's better -- focusing on the sails, demoralizing the crew, or targeting the hull. I had been going for the hull but eventually switched to cannon ammo that knocked out the sails first, so I could then board the ship and finish things off with some swashbuckling. Both seemed to be working OK for me, but I felt a little vulnerable with my swashbuckling. I've had a few close calls even though I had a decent advantage going into battle. I'm mulling over whether I should drop my florentine skills and pick up dirty fighting. I like some of the debuff-type attacks of dirty fighting and have felt a little sub-par when in combat as a florentine swashbuckler.

From what I have gathered so far with ship combat, the basics are easy enough to get the hang of (unfurl your sails before trying to turn, don't sail into the red, fire when the other guy is in your cone of attack). But there are so many nuances beyond that. Use the wind to gain the advantage, command your crew to adjust the ship's focus when turning and attacking, lower your sails a bit just before firing to gain a little extra accuracy. I've switched ammunition mid-fight to adjust to the battle and swiveled around to protect my exposed side from further attack. With every battle, I'm learning something new, and with some helpful tips from Massively readers (thank you guys!) I've picked up on things that much faster. But for all I've gleaned, I feel like I've just scratched the surface. I'm getting there with one-on-one ship battles, but I don't feel like I'm close to being ready to solo a convoy yet.

X marks the spot

My other exciting highlight was getting to go on my first search for buried treasure. I was given a map that showed a big red X but no other markings or names of islands. I tried my best to match the map with the world map and thought I had found the right island. My arrival at the intended destination was slightly anti-climactic.

Nevertheless, I was looking forward to digging up some treasure! I reached my first pile of dirt only to find an old boot. The second turned up nothing, although I did stumble upon a couple of journal entries about some entrepreneurial adventurer who was trying to move some wild animals from pen to pen. As I reached my third pile, I scored a nice treasure chest only to see two leopards come running toward me. I was caught by surprise and only managed to get one down before losing the battle. Eventually I came back, though, and hauled in some stone jaguars and necklaces, which can be exchanged for rewards back in town.

The treasure instance was fun, but one thing that surprised me is that it was on a 10-minute timer. I actually lost one time because I was poking around for clues and admiring the little monkey showing off his pirate hat to his monkey friends. I'm not sure why it's on a timer, but I wish it were either a bit longer or removed completely. After running out of time, I felt rushed going back in, and I would have preferred to take my time and explore.

Overall, I continue to enjoy the little details in game. I've found myself taking a lot of screenshots, from close ups of my crew in action to funny scenes around town. There are some very pretty sunsets as well. I have to admit, some of the UI features have frustrated me because they're not always very intuitive. It took me a bit to figure out the process of moving items from my boats and my personal inventory to my warehouse, for example. And while I love the minimap in town, I miss not being able to do a search for a particular NPC or location. But every time I started to complain to myself, I'd overhear a hilarious conversation between pirate and barmaid, or I'd spot a fire-breathing performer down the road. There's always some kind of activity around you, and Flying Lab has done a nice job of capturing the charm of that golden age of piracy (no pun intended!).

For this week's poll, I'd like you to choose whether I should do a swashbuckler respec. Again, I'm currently of the florentine fighting school, but I'm leaning toward starting over with dirty fighting. I'll even add the third option of fencing. Let me know what to do! Just make sure to get your votes in by tomorrow (Thursday) at noon EDT.
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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.

This article was originally published on Massively.