Why do I say that? Well, there are many reasons. The game is in only a beta stage, but it's aiming for a launch this year. And even though it's still in beta, the current Wizard101 fanbase is going nuts over the game. If that, combined with the unique selling points of the two titles, is any indication, KingsIsle can count Pirate101 as a huge step forward. One that will make a lot of money, I'm sure.
Sure, I rolled up a pirate and got to hear and see all of the piratey standards we've come to expect, but soon enough, the apearance of magic and mentions of the original Spiral that encompasses the 101 worlds connected me to what I always loved about Wizard101. It turns out that this pirate's paradise is connected to those other wizardry worlds, although I'm not quite sure on how extensively. Even when my character would cast a magic spell, something you do constantly in Wizard101, the newer combat design would take me right back to the world of pirates.
You might be familiar with the collectible card-based combat of Wizard101. Players take turns picking a card that casts a spell or spawns a friendly monster, then they watch the results in spectacular, animated fashion. Wizard101 has become known for its over-the-top, funny, and downright impressive (especially for its system requirements) spell animations and effects. Players have their favorite spells and will take the time during a fight to build up enough magical energy (pips) to cast them. Surely this anticipation for all things explodey has added to the success of the game becase it keeps players glued to the screen even during longer battles and other players' animated magics.
"It's a system that is very easy to understand, much like Wizard101's card system, but it's also easy to become obsessed with."
I have to admit that after a while I could feel the familiar soft-grind of Wizard101 setting in. It's never a terrible bore as it is in games like Final Fantasy XI, and it's not as tedious as watching raiders go at it night after night, but there is definitely a danger of grinding enemies in both of KingsIsle's games. The grind, as soft as it is, is definitely the one turn-off for me in Wizard101. Luckily, the storyline in both titles is not only funny but filled with interesting characters. A player could simply follow the linear, fully voice-acted storyline and enjoy himself for hours at a time. But that content does run out. I've known Wizard101 players who burned through it more quickly than players in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Is there a danger of that happening with Pirate101? Of course, but obviously the creators have experience with the situation and have been able to not only maintain a healthy playerbase but grow one. For players like yours truly who enjoy a game like Wizard101 in shorter bursts of an hour or two at a time, the story content will be forever-flowing.
"I've witnessed my share of PvP matches and know players who customize their spell-decks with surgical precision. Knowledge of the game will always trump deep pockets."
PvP is a very popular pastime in Wizard101, and I'm sure it will be even more popular in Pirate101. I've witnessed my share of PvP matches and know players who customize their spell-decks with surgical precision. Knowledge of the game will always trump deep pockets.
The beta is currently very polished and has the same familiar, welcoming charm that oozes from Wizard101, but the UI and other systems need to be tweaked, and bugs still need to be squashed. Overall, Pirate101 feels both welcoming and completely alien. The new combat will provide tons and tons of fresh gameplay. If linear questing with a strong story backbone is your thing, you'll surely find plenty to do as well. I can only imagine what it will be like to play with many players in a fight, all of them pushing several NPCs in an army.
I have a feeling the results will be much larger and more spectacular than anything we have seen with Wizard101. I can't wait.
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