They also showed off Port Royal, which in history suffered a major earthquake and thus in the game's timeline has just begun to pull itself back from the destruction. It's much like the other colonial ports, but in this case, the coastline is ruined and much of the city has fallen into the sea.
They even took the chance to show me something never before seen: a prototype village for Pirates of the Asian Seas. FLS doesn't just want to localize for Asia, but build their waters in a distinct game. When Williams travels to Asia to work on this, he shows off the massive, historically accurate ships they've created and a small town with classic Asian architecture. It was only a small taste and devoid of people, but it definitely evoked the right feel.
Finally, Creative Director Jess Lebow provided an update on the game's "choose your own adventure" style story-arc. Like all good pirate stories, this one begins with a map handed to the player by a dying sea captain at the tutorial's conclusion. From there, each player sets off on a series of missions that spans the entire game. In all, there are 70 possible missions, but each character likely only experiences 30 to 50 of them, due to their own choices.
These missions are full of non-traditional forms of advancement. Lebow cited the example of a situation where the player must flirt with a love interest, but simultaneously distract his or her over protective relatives in a mini-game not unlike The Sims.
"Most MMOs don't have much of a place where you decide what you do," Williams chimed in. "Your personality dictates how you play the game."
Players should expect more of their central story every five or so levels, much of it in instanced spaces. It combines all elements of the game, including non-traditional advancement, sea battles and avatar adventures.
Ultimately, players gain access to the island of Grand Turk, which is completely different for each individual based on what they chose to do. There they'll see the people they met - or not see those that they killed - and the consequences of the path they chose.
They learned more than just non-traditional advancement from The Sims. Their character creator continues to impress with the sheer volume of options and could open the game up to more than just the stereotypical core gamers. At their big launch party, I saw that the two hired "booth babes" - in full pirate regalia - had taken the opportunity to jump up to one of the consoles and create likenesses of themselves. It's a safe assumption that neither fell into the game's target market, but there they were, having fun with one of the game's most attractive features.
Pirates of the Burning Sea is currently live for those who pre-ordered the game. Full retail launch is on February 22nd.