This system is not unlike their current clothing system. Again, they didn't want players to jump into the game with full Blackbeard regalia. That's an honor they need to earn. Jess Lebow explained how at every five levels players get a big quest that rewards them with new clothes, neat loot and such.
For example, players that begin as an office in the Navy begin with a simple military uniform. It's all rather plain. As they advance, they get the famous marking of their country people will recognize from popular culture.
This all ties into the game's overall "choose your own adventure" style story-arc. Lebow told us about how each class has its own take on a 70+ mission arc, but no one does every single mission. As players advance through it, their choices open up some branches and close off others, much in the way "turning to page 20" does in the famous children's books. He gave examples of how players must choose love interests and friends, both of which obviously create some enemies that, had the player handled things differently, might have been friends. This kind of system, done correctly, should add a lot of replay ability to the title.
Williams believes their game will succeed, but has some realistic expectations. He gave us City of Heroes as an idea of a game with a similar subscriber base to what they expect. Pirates of the Burning Sea pre-order boxes will be in stores on October 23rd and an official launch date announcement is expected soon.