Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pirates of the Burning Sea - Yarps and Narps

(Aside: I hope someone got the "Hot Fuzz" reference in the title...)

It's now been a couple of days since the NDA dropped, and I'm sure you've all read dozens of beta overviews, reviews, previews, and whatnot. I won't bore you with an epic diatribe on the intracacies of the game. I'm simply going to to go over some positives and some negatives as I see them, and then leave the whole thing open for discussion. Feel free to comment on anything you read.

~~~For Every Yarp a Narp~~~

Yarp - Sea combat, while slow and deliberately slow is an Age of Sail fan's wet dream. It'll be hard for me to get used to it when I'm playing PotBS again every day after spending a lot of time in TR, but there's something sublime in sailing a ship with read winds, and firing your broadsides at just the opportune moment. It's more strategic, even if it seems a big more methodical, than any combat I've played in an MMO.

Narp - Avatar combat, while very cool on paper, comes off clunky and unpolished. It's in a far better state today than it was back in August, but there's still work to be done. It's just not very exciting, and in a herd of enemies it can be more confusing and frustrating than fun.


Yarp - Character Customization is fantastic. It's not quite as broad as creating your own hero or villain in CoX, but it's pretty damn close. Everything from hats to boot buckles can be tweaked and colored until your heart's content. Make your pirate the Dread Pirate Roberts if you must, or go for something more akin to Bozo the clown (though I understand the ability to make neon freaks has been turned downa a lot, thank Jeebus).

Narp - I was really hoping I'd be able to make my pirate a fat slovenly fellow. The inability to choose different body types is one of the ways PotBS does not equal CoX in character customization choices. Not a deal breaker by any means, but still... I really wanted to be a fat, filthy pig of a pirate. At least for a bit.


Yarp - The ease of short-spurt play is phenomenal. While PotBS' heavy reliance on sailing mechanics will immediatel turn some off because not everyone wants to be a sailor, I can't stress enough about the fact that anyone who fancies themself as someone without a lot of time but still a lover of MMOs should take a look at PotBS. The way the game's missions are instanced (again a la CoX), the relatively short time it takes to level, the travel times between ports being quick but not too quick... it all spells out a casual player affair.

What's more is that because of level having no real play into combat dice rolls, it's also a casual PvP player's dream. You can be level 20 taking on a 50 and you CAN hope to compete. No more spending all day every day just to get gear that allows you some small semblance of chance at beating your opponent. Not on the Burning Sea.

Narp - While the instancing lends itself well to private encounters and running missions for shorter play sessions, it can become quite the detractor. If there was any one thing I disliked the most about PotBS, it would be the heavy instancing. There's just so much of it. When you want to do a mission you're wisked off to a private instance for you and/or your party. When you encounter an enemy on the open sea, private instance for that too. When you engage in the big Port Battles? Instance. It all makes sense to keep things balanced and also to split up the 3 segments of the game they've created (crafting, sailing, and avatar combat), but it often seems to be more in the way than helpful. You certainly will notice the loading screens even if they're fairly quick.


Yarp - One more Yarp and Narp for now. The economy is fantastic. Crafting and Economic nuts are going to eat this title up for sure. I've never been a fan of crafting in most games, because in most games it's a fruitless side-game. In PotBS, it's equal to sailing as the number one draw for playing. Most everything available for purchase will be created and comissioned by the players, from ores to sails to cattle and even entire ships. What's more is that to get the best prices a player has to be willing to sail sometimes into PvP territory, or a trader will have to do the same to take advantage of the best selling spots.

Guess who's going to be offering his Piratical services to protect aspiring merchants?

Narp - The downside, and only downside I can see, to crafting is that it's a bit daunting at 1st to come to grips with. This isn't WoW or even EQ2. You won't be node hunting in PotBS. Instead you'll be given 10 plots of land to disperse across the seas, and it'll be up to you how you distribute these 10 plots. Do you need just 1 warehouse for storage? 3? How about goods production? Do you want to make just the smaller pieces, or do you want to work up enough funds to become a full-time ship-maker and just use some other plots for making money? Oh, and where's the best place to find the resource I need? Where should I sell my ore? Should I risk passing through Tortuga to get Port Royal?

Hell, who am I kidding... that type of though is what makes the economy so good. But I can see why some might dislike it and prefer the simpler "collect materials, make goods, sell goods" approach. I'd much rather have PotBS' system though, because it feels more like a game (READ: fun) than a chore.


There's more to touch on still, but it's lunch time. I'll write up more Yarps and Narps as I think of them. Please feel free to comment on these if the mood strikes.




p@tsh@t said...

I get the feeling that the travel tax is a bit more asymmetrical and as a result a bit more of a pain in some cases.

As Brit national, for example, you start in Jenny Bay down in Guyana but your capital, Port Royal is on the island of Jamaica in the middle of the map. Couple that with a Southeasterly current along South American and it can take quite a while to sail there and back(especially as a noob) just to turn in your commendations to upgrade your ship and then return to your noob missions around your starting port.

Similar for the Spanish and the French. By contrast, the Pirates are clustered in the center of the map, which IMHO, makes Pirate travel a bit easier early on.

Of course that puts you more in harms way at the pvp cross roads of the world too...

Pvthudson said...

I still have age of sail 2 man that game was fun.

Keen said...

I agree 150% with every yarp and narp.

Julian said...

"I really wanted to be a fat, filthy pig of a pirate"

You can do like me, Bildo. Be a fat, filthy pig in real life.


heather (errantdreams) said...

Fat pirates: remember that's coming out in the first major content update, along with more varied missions!

I actually love AvCom, but I know I'm in the minority there.

I LOVE THE ECONOMY AND CRAFTING. I cannot say it more strongly than that. And dear god am I making a fortune in the betas, so I must be doing something right.

Will write my own post next week hopefully...

heather (errantdreams) said...

Was going to write my own post about the game this morning, but instead ended up posting about the pre-order fiasco. Got our pre-order boxes, but wanted to strangle a Best Buy employee by the time I was done.