Sailing off for ADVENTURE in a sandbox game


This is my new ship in Pirates of the Burning Sea, under full sail, attempting to sail against the wind. I think after this shot was taken I was either in the process of turning or decided to tack  – ie. sail in zig zags – to get closer to the shallows.

She’s called ‘HMS Justifiable Homicide,’ a name which incidentally was too long to be used as a ship name in Star Trek Online. And as you can see in the picture, she’s flying British colours. Huzzah!

Despite this fact, we’re all setting terrible examples and ripping up the Caribbean attacking/ capturing any random object that gets in the way. So fairly historically accurate in that respect.

Although the game does have a full complement of quests, there are also plenty of other things to do which is where the sandbox aspect comes in. You have more freedom to decide what sort of role you’d like to play than in a game like WoW. If you want to be a crafter/ trader, you may occasionally need to run through a port blockade but you will never need to trade shots with anyone if you don’t want to. (And you’ll have access to fairly sturdy trade ships to help out.) You could also be a trader without crafting, specialising in hauling goods from one port to another so that you can buy low and sell high.  Or there is always piracy, faction combat, or trying to become the governer of a port.

In any case, I had a ton of fun with Sven and the Consoling Gamers crew last week. I love that you can just join up into a fleet, and  sail off looking for adventure (in the shape of thumbing your nose at the french fleets, attacking stupidly high level NPCs, baiting the PC pirates and other random encounters). It’s like Swallows and Amazons meets Pirates of the Caribbean!

And this is one of the really characteristic things of a sandbox game. No major restrictions on what you can do. If you want to be in a group with someone 30 levels lower and attack someone 20 levels higher, the game will let you do it and there may even be a non zero chance of success.

Things that I love about this game:

  • Naval combat. It’s always been the lynchpin of the game, and it’s beautifully put together. I think it plays better than STO combat because of the wind factors so if you enjoy that, try this.
  • It’s also a very pretty game, the graphics aren’t always all that but they put a lot of effort into the sailing and you can see your guys climb the rigging when you order them to put up the sails, and scurry around trying to repair cannons and decking when under attack.
  • Being allowed to attack high level enemies. In themepark games like WoW, there are often mechanics that mean you just can’t hit an enemy who is too far above you in level (mostly put in to stop kiting.) In a game like this, you can hit them. You might not do much damage but you can hit them.
  • I also love that a disparate bunch of players of different levels and experiences can go off and do something fun together in game.
  • I love that I find myself using words like ‘tack’ when I’m describing how I sail my ship in game.
  • Playing the Pirates of the Caribbean theme on youtube while we’re attacking stuff!