Choose My Adventure: Sink or swim!

Karen Bryan
K. Bryan|04.27.11

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Choose My Adventure: Sink or swim!
Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in!

I really thought you all would choose one of the nations to play in my last poll, but no, you clearly signaled that I should stick with playing a pirate! As a result, I fitted my ship and went out to sea as Arienne Sauvage, Woman of Wealth and Taste. (Although that's up for debate)

Read on for a recap of my week in Pirates of the Burning Sea, including ship combat, the community, and some pirate humor!

First off, I want to thank those of you who emailed me with your advice and feedback on the game. There's definitely a lot to take in, and I appreciate your stories and experiences with Pirates. If there's one thing that stands out for me already, it's that the Pirates community is very tight-knit and helpful. Open chat is generally friendly and welcoming, and it's clear that there's a core of veteran players who know each other well. Chat is also very clean and spam-free. I haven't seen any messages from third-party sites or nudgy players who want to annoy everyone.

What's ironic is that I was bracing myself for the worst, because the first few times I've logged in, I've been surrounded by pirates with names in Cyrillic. Call me jaded, but my first reaction was that the servers had been flooded with bots and plat-sellers, because it seemed out of place on a North American server. As I discovered, though, a large portion of the population is from Russia, and they're a very active part of the community. I'm hardly high enough to start doing Port Battles, but I have to wonder whether such combat is hard to coordinate when players are not only speaking different languages but using an entirely different alphabet. So far for me, it hasn't been an issue, though.

I've been leveling up by soloing so far, and it's been fun. Right now I've fallen into my usual habit of picking up each and every mission and quest I stumble upon and then going off exploring and not doing any of them. As soon as I saw the option to head out to the open sea, I grabbed my little dinghy and took off. I'm used to MMOs in which things are so set on rails that you hardly come across any high-level players until you're actually high-level. In Pirates, that's hardly the case, and I can spot the high-levels right away because my ship is about the size of one of their sails. The seas feel active and alive, not only with other players but also with lots of NPC ships that are ripe for the picking. I've chased down several of them, but after a while, I decided to focus on sightseeing. I made it all the way to Mexico and then realized that there's no such thing as "gate" or "port to home." If you go somewhere, you'd better have a good reason, because you have to hoof it back when you want to return home. I took heart in the fact that at least I didn't get lost like I usually do!

I'm starting to get the hang of ship combat, and it's very different from the usual hack-and-slash of avatar combat. It's slow, but yet it's intense. Instead of battles being about mashing buttons, they seem much more focused on positioning. Early on, I'd ride up alongside a boat and go toe-to-toe, but I soon realized that brute force isn't the best way. I'm getting the hang of steering up behind the enemy now, but trying to turn my ship is a lot like steering a real ship -- turning circles is slow and time-consuming. I've collected a few captured ships and plan to focus this coming week on outfitting a better ship, so hopefully I'll have an easier time of it.

One of my quests had me head to Cat Island to learn about building a warehouse and lines of production. Now, I've seen the famous bar graph of the learning curves of popular MMORPGs, and so far, I would make the line for PotBS a lot higher than it's shown! There's definitely a lot to take in, and after the fairly easy tutorial, it's clear that things like the economy and ship stats are a lot more complex than they initially seem. I still am learning, but so far, I'm enjoying the market. I like the fact that the auctioneer can be a game within a game, and it's nice to be able to not only buy things that are listed but also put in a request for something that lets other players fill your order. So far I'm just collecting hides in my little warehouse, but I'm hoping to expand this week to other islands.

In my travels, I've popped into several ports, and I've really enjoyed walking around town. They're lively, they're full of music, and they make you feel like you've stepped right into the Caribbean of the 1700s. NPCs don't just stand around; there are plenty of NPCs busy cleaning streets, gambling, and carrying on with various sinister activities. As I was heading to the local tavern, a pirate ran by with a woman draped over his shoulder. Another was working hard on the giant brew tanks outside. Later, as I was perusing the auctioneer, I overheard an NPC announcing that he has a notice from soandso "seeking a supplier of striped paint." After a short pause, he follows up with "oh, never mind." Shortly after, he reads another notice that says "Male ship captain seeks first mate for 'buryng treasure.'" He wonders out loud why that's in quotes and then realizes the meaning as the description specifies that the candidate "must take orders well and be supple." That sums up the atmosphere of PotBS -- there's a lot of humor and light-heartedness around town and even in some of the missions.

Overall, I've dipped my toes into several areas of the game, and I'm having a lot of fun. There's one thing I haven't tried yet, though -- PvP. I've come face to face with the NPC in town, his giant green exclamation mark taunting me to turn on my PvP flag, and so far I've resisted temptation. My low-level and carebear demeanor has convinced me to hold off, but this week, I'm putting my fate in your hands. What's it going to be, Massively readers? Should I go PvP or not? Vote below, and get your votes in quick, because the poll ends Thursday, April 28th at noon EDT.

Also, if you're interested in checking out Pirates of the Burning Sea, I'll be playing this week on and off, but I'll definitely be in game on Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. EDT. I've started up a society called the Massively Mateys, and you're all welcome to join. It's growing rapidly and now has a roster of.... one! So if you want a spot you have to move quickly! Just look for Arienne Sauvage in game on Antigua, or feel free to contact me at the email address below. Yargh!
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.
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