Ah… Pirates! Explore the seven seas in your own ship, find great treasures, battle fierce one eyed one legged, one armed, one… Never mind, you know what I’m talking about. Oh, and let’s not forget the rum. The adventurous life of pirates has been the dream of every boy on the face of the earth at one point or another. If you lived back in the 17th century, that dream might come true. Unfortunately, nowadays your only options are the coast of Somalia and maybe South-East Asia… or you may play Uncharted Waters Online from the safety of your home. Whether it offers a pirate-like experience, it remains to be seen.
Uncharted Waters is obviously a 17th-18th century sailing simulator. And when I say simulator I really mean it. The game is so complex to the point that if you are not that much into it, you might even consider giving up. But first things first. There are three main classes in the game: Adventurer (discovering is his main activity), Trader (pretty obvious) and Soldier (even more obvious). Each also has sub-classes that give the player the possibility to specialize even more. The number of skills is impressive. From the classic ones that help you in combat to more subtle kind that give you an important edge in trading or exploring.
For those of you who expected an arcade action game, you are going to be disappointed. There’s combat, make no mistake, but the other things to do take the most time spent in-game. There are things like crafting, recruiting crew members, equipping the ship, trading and of course the sailing itself. Distance between ports becomes greater and greater as you play and no matter how fast your ship is, it will still be time consuming. The map is huge and is trying to represent the entire world with actual cities and ports from the 17th century. And navigating it isn’t easy at all. You have to take into account the direction of the wind relative to your sail, the morale of the crew, the supplies and potential threats along the way. But the wait is definitely worth it. Whether you are an explorer looking for a lost treasure, a trader looking for better offers or a soldier trying to conquer a city, there’s always something to do that will keep you hooked in front of the screen. Actually, the developers say that there is more than three years worth of play-time, even for the core gamers. I’ll tell you if that is true in about that time.
No matter how interesting the gameplay is I could not help but notice the environment… or the lack of it to be precise. Even though the sea looks great, the lands seem dull and lifeless, and the cities look as if they’ve been deserted with just a few NPCs spread across a large area. I thought a 17th century Caribbean port was a colorful and crowded place, not a grave. Fortunately, you’ll spend only brief periods there during trading and resupply. The music makes no exception unfortunately. Though it sounds interesting at first, later on you’ll get bored and probably turn it off.
Despite its minor faults, Uncharted Waters Online is a great free MMO game, and those who want an authentic sailing and exploration simulation, this is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. For the others, who would choose intense action to tactics and micromanagement, there are other games, better suited for this purpose.
by Sicaru Adrian