The pace of combat in PotBS is not anything like most MMOs. In ship combat, it can be anywhere between 5 and 40 seconds between your main attacks depending on ship type. Ship battles are not won or lost on the basis of reflexes, but with the better application of tactics. I find that victories in PotBS are more satisfying than other MMOs, mainly because of the flow of combat and how it feels like more of an accomplishment. Player skill and knowledge are more important that anything. In PvP, ships with half the number of guns and armor have defeated me because I was out-sailed. Being constantly aware of the wind direction is critical, even in PvE battles. Avatar combat will have a more familiar feel to it for players but even here, the excitement of close calls and snatching a win from certain defeat is still present.
The visuals of combat, both ship and avatar, are a treat to watch. Whether you are firing a broadside or sticking the pointy end of your sword into an enemy, you won't be disappointed.
The game has the potential for amazing graphics quality. It will be punishing on older video cards, however. For those that can turn on the higher settings, the game offers a great amount of detail, especially on ship models. While most of the time you will be looking at your ship from a bit of a distance, take a moment to zoom in once in a while, you will be pleasantly surprised. Towns and landscapes look good as well. Make sure you have the latest drivers for your video card and look into upgrading your video card to have the best experience.
For those with lower end machines, the game runs admirably with the sliders turned down, but obviously doesn't look nearly as good as the screenshots.
Sound effects in PotBS are superb. Even after a month of playing, they have not gotten tiresome as with some games. I still have the music on, always a testament to the quality of the artists. Thundering cannons, the ringing of swords clashing and just listening to the ambient sounds adds a great deal of depth to the overall enjoyment of the game. Sadly, there is no option to turn off the /toot emote.
The UI needs help. This is one of the areas that the developers have stated they will be focusing on and have already made a few changes. Currently, it has issues, most notably with the Chat System. Everything system related gets replicated in all of your chat windows with no way to filter it. This can get bothersome if you are trying to pay attention to Group or Society chat. It's not the worst UI I've dealt with recently, but it can certainly be improved. At least you can move various parts of the UI around to suit your liking.
Pirates of the Burning Sea has earned the Razor Seal of Approval. Even with the minor issues, the gameplay and player interaction make it stand out as something, I recommend playing. The recent patch fixed a number of bugs and made some improvements that made the game more stable and more enjoyable. I don't give scores, but I will say that one day not so long ago, I played for 20 hours straight. I haven't done that with an MMO in the last 5 years. Yarrr!
Pros and Cons
- Graphics are excellent
- User Interface
- Sounds are first-rate
- Mission AI
- Player-driven economy that works
- Mission balancing
- Combat that rewards thinking
- Gold-seller spam