Pirates Of The Burning Beta

Buccaneering MMO Pirates Of the Burning Sea is about to open up its public beta, which reportedly appears today. (Although no sign of it at the time of posting.) I’ve been playing on the private beta and actually had a jolly (roger) good time. It’s a big mishmash of pirate-game staples, such as sword-fighting, raiding sea-forts, sinking ships and looking for treasure, and it all comes together rather fruitfully.

More sea dogging beyond the jump.

The game has a number of factions, British, Spanish, French and Pirate, if I recall correctly, and you can join up with any of these for various instanced missions, trading, and missions that range from doing violence to enemy boats, to defending a town from attack. The sea-combat reminds me of a meeting the Age Of Sail games (which I’ve always had a fondness for) and Sid Meier’s Pirates(!). In fact the entire game is a little reminiscent of Sid’s reworked classic, even down to the presentation of some of the towns, and the fact that the game is divided up into distinct sub sections: wandering round town, sailing, fighting at sea, fighting hand-to-hand, and chatting to folk. It’s never anything like a simulation of sea-warfare, but it’s believable and playable enough for you to keep on gunning. The bright horizon of building boats and ganging up with other sea captains makes PoTBS a really interesting break from the traditional MMO fare.

The hand-to-hand is in some ways the most unusual part of PoTBS reminded me of City Of Heroes. While no other MMO has ship to ship cannon battles, those somehow feel obvious. Of course I’m a ship captain and have my own transport, how else could it possibly work? The up-close-and-personal fights are conducted in instances where you run into battle alongside loads of pirate chums. So you’ll board a boat and be involved in a brawl with your chums alongside, or you’ll attack or defend a fort, each time relying on both your cutlass-skills and pistol skills to down the enemy. It’s a little crude and uses standard push-button-and-wait combat mechanics, but it’s pretty satisfying to down an enemy captain.

The bit of PoTBS that I haven’t really managed to get much of a handle on yet is the factional warfare, where ship to ship PvP and port-sieges allow factions to capture towns off each other. If I get some more time on the beta I might give this a closer look, since I suspect it’s where the long game of PoTBS will lie.

The full game is due to set sail on January 22nd 2008.

EDIT: Alec also has his impressions over at Eurogamer.


  1. Mr Pink says:

    I’ve downloaded the client, now I’m waiting to get access to an open beta key. I applied for closed beta ages ago, but didn’t manage to get in.
    I’m really looking forward to this one, it looks really different. I especially like the sound of the economy- like Eve but without the mining grind.

  2. Piratepete says:

    I should really have a go at this. Hopefully I’ll get an invite to the beta (but judging by my success of getting into betas I’ve got more chance of waking up tomorrow morning a multi millionaire)

  3. LaKriz says:

    LOL, if you win the jackpot tomorrow and like the beta key more, we could swap…

  4. Evo says:

    I’ve kind of paid no attention whatsoever to this…but it looks kind of interesting….any word on fees etc. on release?

  5. Piratepete says:

    Believe me mate if it does happen, you can have the beta key gratis :)

  6. drunkymonkey says:

    5GB beta?

    I was tempted, but I’ll never have the patience to download all that…

  7. Nallen says:

    What you don’t sleep? That’s what sleeping is for dude, downloading big files.

  8. Adam Baum says:

    I downloaded the client and fired it up only to find there was an especially big download happening. So, I waited… by the end of the evening, nothing. I left it over night, and the next morning…. nothing. Sure it had been downloading, over 10mb broadband no less, but it still wasn’t done. To date I’ve been trying for three days to no avail and I’m beginning to not care anymore.


  9. Jim Rossignol says:

    Yes, the patcher for this is quite dodgy, I had it time out a couple of times before the game was done.

  10. Cruz says:

    Any zombies? Ninjas? Surely 5gb would contain at least one of them.

  11. Mr Pink says:

    Keys are now available over at Eurogamer

  12. Mr Pink says:

    I have no idea why that link doesn’t work. URL is:

    link to gamers.eurogamer.net

  13. Hump says:

    Jesus Christ, the installer alone is 100mb

  14. Heartless_ says:

    I have a beta invite. I have the client downloaded. I have not played. I was even invited to be a PvP or Economic player advocate for the official Boarding Party.

    I just can’t bring myself to play. It is just the wrong MMO at the wrong time unfortunately. Had they forgone working in all the land based avatar combat, which delayed the game for so long, and just released, I most likely would be a paying subscriber right now.

    I may spin it up, just to say I went and tried, but I don’t know if it is worth losing some leveling time in WoW, a good game of Team Fortress 2, or a clan scrim in CoD4.

  15. malkav11 says:

    There are in fact zombies, from what I hear. Though they’re the voodoo sort, not the Romero sort.

    I dunno. I played a little bit and it didn’t grab me. I guess I may check it out again now that it’s in public beta…perhaps whatever portion of the formula was missing for me is there now.

  16. Hump says:

    Played some of it tonight and like the previous poster, it didn’t do a whole lot for me. 2 things that did stand out were the ship-to-ship combat and the character customization screen. Both were very well implemented. The melee combat is stiff, unintuitive and simply not fun.

  17. sibom says:

    i couldn’t stop playing it! logged in to have a look before a planned dabble in WoW, much as i’d done with tabula /rasp and any number of mmo betas, and this one grabbed me hook, line n’ sinker. yes the melee seems a tad ‘stiff’ and uninvolving until you begin to level up and add different swashbuckling skills (3 different sword fighting skills from fencing to dirty fighting) and suddenly you’re loving it. charging into a fray and one-shotting a pirate captain with a well timed thrust is a great feeling. next thing i knew it was 6hrs later, i was level 9 and rolling in dubloons, and what’s more, i was doing pirate impressions to my long suffering girlfriend who had been waiting for me to help her quest in outland. i’m sunk; three mmo’s is too much for one lifetime but keelhaul me if i’m not gonna sign up!