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Pirates of the Burning Sea

Pirates of the Burning Sea
Company: SOE
Estimated Street Price: £30
Review By: Byron Hinson

The Features

I’ve got to say that I am surprised that it has taken so long for a pirate based multiplayer game to make its way onto the PC. It feels that Pirates of the Burning Sea has been in development for years and years, and in reality it has has it been worth the wait and does it differ from others in the genre such as Everquest and WoW to bring in the paying customers. Our review of Pirates of the Burning Sea will carry on month after month as we continue to play the game when new content is added and as we get more in depth into the game.

The Review

Set sail for a swashbuckling, massively multiplayer online adventure in the pirate-infested seas and Caribbean ports of 1720. England, France, and Spain have unleashed their forces on the Caribbean. Naval officers captain massive warships through bloody engagements at sea. Freetraders charge through blockades and smuggle the war material needed to conquer the enemy's ports. Privateers raid enemy shipping, looting ships of their treasure and rival nations of their glory.

Through it all sail the Pirates. Bloody, bold, and resolute, they serve no flag and heed no king. They live free, fight hard, and obey only fate.

The New World of 1720 is a land of opportunity, treachery, and adventure:

Intense Tactical Ship Combat

Fire grape, bar and heavy round shot from your cannons in colossal open sea battles, but head the direction of the wind or you'll find yourself dead in the water.

Swashbuckling Sword Fights

Take-up arms with three swashbuckling fighting styles, from the deadly and formal Fencing, to the flashy dual-wielding Florentine, or the rowdy and treacherous Dirty Fighting.

Join the Caribbean Community

Socialize, group, and join the player driven economy to make, trade, and sell everything needed to play. Manufacture your own goods for in-game profit or your own use. Build, capture, and customize dozens of historical ships or player created originals.

The game starts with the usual setup – select your server, pick the country you want to represent – I went with the good old British Empire and then set about creating my character and naming them. There are four different careers you can take part in during Pirates of the Burning Sea:


You are a merchant of the sea! You live for the business of trade and love the feel of doubloons in your pocket; the law of supply and demand holds your attention far more than the law of “might means right.” You would much rather outrace a heavily armed destroyer to sell a hold full of lucrative rum than go cannon-tocannon with it.

Naval Officer

You command the largest ships on the sea. As a defender of your nation, you follow your government’s orders and protect the citizens under your care. Your nation completely cooperates with you and backs your every decision and action.


No one is quite sure who you are aligned with, except you and your crew. Sanctioned by your nation, your enemies call you Pirate, and your allies call you Pirate-hunter - but it is your official letters of marque that grant you the authority to sink those who would threaten the crown.


You bend your knee to no one and live by the laws that you create. You ride the waves of freedom and plunder any undefended port. Unlike other careers, a Pirate survives on his cunning and can seize any ship defeated in combat for his own.

The first part of the game is a decent tutorial style piece in which you learn to control your character, use the special moves and traits your characters has, and learn how to take control of your first ship on the open seas and in battle. I have to say that first and foremost I would have loved to have had more tutorial missions early on as they can be helpful to both new players and to those who are more used to playing online titles, especially one like this that has a lot of sea navigation and battles in it. But the good thing is that the few early missions are not that difficult and easy to understand while chatting to the various characters in the first port you are in will help no end.

The game itself is very detailed, this is why our review will be updated every month during Pirates of the Burning Sea’s lifespan – each month new content is added to the game and bugs/missions are fixed and added to which is great news to those who have subscribed to it.

As I mentioned a short while back, the first port you arrive in is more of a tutorial area where you speak to various people around the town such as the Harbour Master, Town Crier, Port Captain, Trainers and more – these people can give you missions as well as allow you to get news from about the town you are in.

There is a lot to do in the ports like visiting the Tavern and buying drinks while discussing what is happening around the world as well as picking up a new mission or two while you are there. There are also a number of shops around the ports that allow you to buy and sell items.

Head to the shop and inside is the auctioneer, who allows you to buy and sell on the trade market; the civilian ship deed trader if you want to purchase a standard ship; and the junk merchant, who gives you a small fee for disposing of your unwanted goods. Plus, depending on the size of the port’s shop, you may also find someone who customizes flags and sails; a society registrar, which enrols you in a society; and a tailor to make you a new outfit.

Combat takes place in the various missions you take part in, these can be on the land in hand to hand or on sea in large scale battles:

You have three types of swashbuckling fighting styles to choose from: Dirty Fighting, Fencing, or Florentine. Each has its benefits, and while your career will start you with a style, talk to your swashbuckling trainer and try them all out. Naval Officers start as Fencers, Privateers and Pirates start as Dirty Fighters, and Freetraders start with Florentine. In general, Dirty Fighting uses the cutlass and relies on tricks and ranged pistols to deal damage; Fencing uses the rapier and concentrates on quickness and defence to deliver a killing blow; and Florentine uses a small sword and dagger to be a little more aggressive. This is well suited for one-on-one combat but a little limited against enemy groups.


I hope you enjoyed the first part of our review and we will be posting the follow up next month where we focus on the types of missions you get in the game, the player versus player content and how the ships work and navigate around the sea. Overall though Pirates of the Burning Sea is a very promising multiplayer title that is a bit different from the others around at the moment, thanks mostly to the sea combat and the large amount of players who have joined in so far. A new content patch is due in mid-march so we will be covering that in our upcoming review too.

Feel free to comment on the review here.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 88%
Version Reviewed Pirates of the Burning Sea (PAL)
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 Call of Juarez DVD-ROM
1 Set Of Instructions
The Good Points Good performance on low and high end machines.
Good music and sound.
Patches are coming think and fast fixing problems and improving the game.
Lots of players right now.
Differs from other online titles
The Bad Points Could do with longer tutorials
Online Play Enabled? Yes
Widescreen Support Yes


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