Adrift in a Burning Sea

I started off playing Pirates of the Burning Sea with the pre-boarding party, which means that I have been playing for nearly four weeks and have not written very much. I mentioned my first character, a freetrader, in a post.

Of course, I have since rolled an alt, who has quickly become my main. Out with Friedrich Voss, freetrader, in with Remy Darlan, naval officer.

Here is with the noted privateer Henri Le Petomane, aka Potshot. Remy is on the left.


Of course, you have to watch out for those privateers. They are always skulking around, trying to pull something on you.


During the pre-boarding, a Society (guild) was formed, Le Cadre Crepusculaire, on the French faction of the Guadeloupe server, which true to my stated rules of server choice, remains ever at the top of the server list, being the most lightly populated server.

Of course, as is customary, I squandered the whole pre-boarding time frame, only getting to level 8 before launch.

Since I have been laid up with a sprained ankle, I have not been out to Fry’s to buy the box yet. Potshot was nice enough to let me use his 14-day buddy code to get me going.

I have played enough to give some basic impression of the game so far.

The Highs

The Looks – The game looks pretty darn good, especially at sea. There are some visual issues on occasion, like my ships ensign flying through the sails, but I see things like that in World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online as well. You can get all sorts of wonderful age of sail screen shots.

My sloop

My sloop

The Avatars – There are just enough customization options that I have yet to see two avatars that look alike. I can spot my friends, as they all look unique. Nobody need worry about showing up at the party and finding somebody else in the same outfit. And if it does happen, you just head to the tailor and update your look.

Naval Combat – Easily my favorite part of the game, Flying Labs has done a wonderful job finding a happy medium between the realism of sailing and combat in that time period and the need to keep the game accessible. I have a lot of fun with Potshot out hunting bigger NPC ships on the open sea.

Mixed Results

The Economy – It is complicated. You cannot just run out and start building ships on your own. You really need a concerted effort to get an assembly line going. There is no magical transporting of goods. You have to go haul your freight from harbor to harbor just like in EVE, something I respect.

On the other hand, it might be too complicated to get into. I have not quite figured out deeds and recipes and such. And while I was trying to figure out more on that front, I lost my shirt when I had all of my production up in the auction house in New Orleans, and then the Spanish took the place. You cannot access the auction house of another power, so I lost it all.

Boarding Combat – It isn’t bad, but it just doesn’t do anything for me. There are only two skills I ever use in combat. And if I do things right in the naval battle, the boarding is usually a walk-over.

The Missions – Interesting at first, but you can burn out on them very quickly. Plus, they all seem to be instanced, which is okay, but they all seem to be solo as well, which is not.

Travel – This one is mixed for me because travel seems to be both too fast and too slow. Hitting 82 knots in a sloop when you catch the current right seems downright silly. On the other hand, I had to cross three quarters of the map to turn in my commendations to get a sloop, a trip that took a good 45 minutes one way.

Light Server Population – This is my own fault, I suppose. But now we’re invested on a server. There is rarely a crowd when we go hunting on the open sea, which is nice. On the other hand, the Spanish and the pirate factions are taking over key ports all over and there does not seem to be enough Frenchmen to halt that tide, much less get back our own.

PvP – We’re losing ports like crazy, which is bad. On the other hand, as long as I stay out of those contention zones, which don’t last very long, I can thumb my nose at those in the pirate faction who seem to be out trolling for suckers to engage them, with one wee ship out front, and three or four more big ones just over the horizon.

The Lows

Ships in the Night – While the avatars look great on the beach, and still pretty good during ship combat, while out in the open sea, you end up with the same problem EVE has – a bunch of ships sailing around and no feeling of personal interaction.

Anti-Altism – The game reminds me of the early days of EverQuest, when you had to get somebody else online to pass things to your alts. I get the reason that you want to keep players from pooling the assets of multiple characters on a single account, but it is swimming up stream. I want shared warehouse space.

Bugs – There hasn’t been any crashers for me, but there have been a couple of that have annoyed me. Number one on the list has to be the hole in the port contention code that lets a faction take over a port faster than you can get a pizza delivered in most US towns.


I like the naval combat and try to get on when I can so Potshot and I can go hunting together. But that is about the only draw at the moment for me. I feel the urge to level and to get bigger ships, the better to battle, but after losing most of my doubloons in the sack of New Orleans, a Bermuda Sloop seems to be about all I will have for a while to come.

The game is interesting, and I will likely play it off and on as long as I have Station Access, but I am not sure that it is interesting enough that I would pay a monthly subscription just to play it.

6 thoughts on “Adrift in a Burning Sea

  1. Tipa

    OMG, I’m on Guadaloupe now… a bunch of people from my EQ2 guild started chars there, and so I moved from Bonny. British, though — Liz Strickland, Freetrader — so we might be meeting. Currently docked in a Spanish port midway on the long, long sail from Port Jenny to Port Royal. I don’t think I’ll be using the Regional Auction House much…


  2. Graktar

    Pirates has some really great things going for it, but I think your overall evaluation is pretty spot on. The propensity for economic ruin is a real problem, especially if you pvp.

    Also, just to note, once you have characters on a server it always appears at the top of the list — doesn’t mean you’re on the least populated server ;) I’m on Morgan, which frequently has moderate populations, but is always at the top of my server list.


  3. Gaff

    I passed as well–though I started in Wil’s society. I was worried about what has apparently happened: one or two factions dominating a server and then losing any economic inroads one had created.
    The avatar combat on board ship and land was just too stilted and simplistic compared to the sail game. You jabbed and auto attacked. After EQ2 and WoW, there has to be more to a melee encounter.
    EQ2 is still carebear enough for me, and at least I mash different buttons every so often.


  4. Pixey styx

    loving potbs, the potential is really there for a great game … given a little more time i see some great social dynamics and intersting politics shaping the game
    Currently on rackham,
    Mariet LaVoe, louisanan pirate in the good ship hex


  5. Keen

    I play on Rackham server which is fairly balanced with a slight Spain bias. Your overall impressions of the game match a lot of my own.

    It’s definitely not a standard mmo. It takes some getting used to and some looking past the flaws. It’s enjoyable, most of the time.


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