I’ve always been a huge fan of the Jack Aubury series of historical novels by Patrick O’Brian, so dipping my toe into Pirates of the Burning Sea seemed like a good idea. It was Spinks who first drew my attention to this game, but I’ve had to wait for a decent computer and a good internet connection to jump into it. A 7gig download later, with a few silly muckaround moves trying to set it up, and I was in. The first thing I noticed was that there are only two servers, one in the US and one in the EU. I’ve always played on EU servers, so this time I thought I’d give the seppos a shot and went for the US. The servers information includes the population levels for each faction you can play. They went something like this:

Pirates: Very Fucking high.
British: Really high too.
Spanish: Kinda high.
French: About as high as a midget.

Being one who likes to root for the underdog, and following on the trevails of Aubury and co, I went French. Phillipe is my name, and shooting people with my pistol is my game. Now I just had to choose a class, of which there are three; Naval Officer, Privateer, and Freetrader. The Freetrader class is the one designed to really get into the economic side of things, and seeing that this is meant to be a sandbox MMO, I decided to give this a shot. Character generation was cool as well, with lots of ways to make Phillipe look like a weirdo. I’m not going to bore you all and go into detail about what I did or where I have been so far. But there are a few things that I need to tell you.

The only social interaction that I’ve had so far has been an unannounced invitation to a guild of some sort, which I immediately declined as it has been my experience that only really desperate and shitty guilds hang around spamming players in the newbie starting zone. There has been some chat going on, but I’ve been content to do my own thing and try and get a handle on the game. The keybind feature won’t let me bind abilities to my mouse wheel, which is disappointing. But saying that, I’ve reached level 6 and I haven’t been swamped with abilities, which is very nice. I’ve picked up point blank shot for my pistol which comes in very handy when I shoot people in the face after boarding their ship. Point blank shot is an ability from the talent tree, of which you have two choices; one for your sailing skills and one for your swashbuckling ones. And the talent tree is simple and well though out, not confusing at all. Who’d a thunk it?

I’ve read a bit on other blogs about this game, and everyone has said how poor the avatar melee combat is. Well, I think it’s fine. Not jaw-droppingly sensational, but not crap either. Another complaint has been that boarding a ship amounts to a total chaos of confusion with enemies rushing this way and that. Once again, this is something that I have no complaint with as I can think of no other close quarters melee combat which would be more hectic and confusing. But while avatar combat might be a little twee, ship combat and sailing is pretty fucking awesome. Right from the sight of cannon balls skipping over the water and making satisfying holes in enemie’s planking I just knew that this was going to be cool. You start off with a generic sailing boat with a couple of cannons and some swivel guns, but I was able to sink and dismantle the nasty pirates which were after me. Mind you, it’s not as simple as you shoot, he shoots, he sinks. A ship to ship battle can take around five to ten minutes of real time. Sailing is realistic, so you better work out what it means to be sailing into the wind. After a few quests I got a ship upgrade which I immediately christened, Verge Puissant, which is French for Mighty Penis.

On the subject of quests, this has been the first time in a very long time that I have been reading quests with interest. Another thing that I have been doing is having only a couple of questlines on the go at the same time. There are no stupid collection quests here, and the storylines are interesting and nicely written. What’s more, I’m not in a rush to progress. I’m enjoying the game and savouring the moment, something which it has been quite some time since I’ve last experienced. I’m still a complete noob, I don’t even know what the level cap is, but so far Pirates of the Burning Sea is turning out to be one of those games where you want to be playing before you open your eyes in the morning. Here’s hoping it lasts.