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Pirates of the Burning Sea Review

 Pirates of the Burning Sea (PotBS) is a "real-vs-realm" (or faction-based) mmo. Players chose between four different factions (Great Britain, France, Spain, and, of course, Pirate), which battle for control over the Caribbean. The game is PvP based, as players fight in large battles to win the round, one port at a time. Even newbies can contribute to the conquering of a port - defeating enemy players and NPCs isn't the only way to give your team points; every package delivered to teammates on the front lines and every item given to the enemy's local rebels helps.

 The combat is also very unique. On boats, players can choose from different types of ammunition which serve different purposes, such as killing enemy personnel, destroying their sails, or just plain sinking them. Players can also board enemy ships and take them over, allowing for more loot, and, if you're a pirate, possession of the ship itself.

Pros: Original concept, realm-vs-realm, newbies can still participate, teamwork encouraged, player-driven economy, factions actually win or lose

Cons: Confusing economy, unwieldly swashbuckling (infantry) combat

What really sets PotBS apart from other MMOs is how it's focused on the competition between factions. In many games, factions are just ways of saying who's allowed to attack whom. But in PotBS, factions compete over territory, resources, and taxes, and there are actually winners and losers. Every week, if any faction (Britain, Spain, France, or Pirate) has enough Victory Points, they "win" the round, and after a two-day ceasefire the war restarts.

The way conquest works is that when players sink NPCs on that ship's home territory, or if "unrest supplies" are delivered to the victim nation's rebels, "unrest" is generated. And after enough unrest, pirates and privateers can attack others. After even more unrest, anyone can attack anyone else of another nation. Then, after a lot of unrest, a port battle starts. The nation that's sunk more of the other nation gets advantages during the port battle. Any nation, at the end of the week, that has captured a set number of ports, wins. If no one wins, it goes on.

Spain pwned this round.

Thankfully, that does not mean, however, that players themselves are reset. Once you've earned something, you've earned it. That is, until your port is attacked and some high-level enemy player sinks you.

But no seaman (save for some pirates) can live on battle alone. Much of the money and resources made are from the factories that players must manage. Players buy deeds to build buildings, and then visit them every once in a while to have them actually produce things. Most produced items require recipes to make. Finally, products must be listed for auction. And money must be payed regularly for upkeep of the factories. Getting buildings to pay themselves off can be a struggle.

The economy gets kind of confusing. Like, really kind of confusing. But it's more realistic than most MMOs.

But while the economy is a huge factor in the game, and combat is not at all necessary, PotBS's combat is really a special, unique thing. In many MMOs, combat involves clicking to start combat and not much else. But in PotBS, it all requires attention. There's more to combat than just a single click, or a few different buttons for a few different attacks. In PotBS, you must manage all your different cannons, as well as your crew. But it's not complicated to the point of being confusing, you're not overwhelmed with buttons and options, either.

The graphics, although they still work on less-than-top-notch computers, can be awe-inspiring.

I woke to the sound of gunfire....
The game's biggest downside, though, is the swashbuckling combat (infantry combat). It's rather poorly designed. The way it works is that you select an enemy by clicking on it, and then attack it using the hotkeys to different abilities. The targeting system is clumsy, though, often not selecting the right enemy. And the interface makes it a bit unclear whether or not your abilities have recharged. And, this happened -

Cap'n! I can't see!

Interface glitch.

This is what it looked like before something went wrong. Nice-looking but only half functional.

BOOM headshot. Kind of. Not really.

Score: 9/10

Pirates of the Burning Sea deviates from the standard MMO, but for the most part it does a good job at doing so. It has RPG content, too, as players early on do considerable questing, too. The whole game looks beautiful, although foot combat, or swashbuckling, is clumsy and generally could be better-designed. Sea combat more than makes up for it, though, and I've never seen faction-based competition like it. PotBS is extremely original, and it's nice to see an MMO that has the courage to go out of the norm.