PotBS had its second stress test this weekend, and I was actually able to get in this time and give the game a shot, and it only took 12 hours of patching, thanks SOE…
Download issue aside, and I don’t think this breaks any NDA, here are my first impressions of PotBS, which I will say right now are limited to about 6 hours of gameplay. I would have liked to play a bit more, but the server was having issues, and then I hit a bug that locked me into the loading screen.
First up, I understand this was a stress test, but for a game so close to release, the state of the game was a bit worrisome. People were asking about broken quests in chat, the server was really having trouble at times, and a saw more than a few forum posts about ship imbalance. Again I only had 6 hours for the game myself, but I also saw a few issues. On the plus side, and this is huge, the graphic engine is very stable and efficient. Even in the massively overcrowded starting city, with 50 or more captains on screen, the game ran without a hitch at 1900×1200. Very impressive.
The gameplay I really liked. It’s relaxing, different, and has some style to it. The ground-based missions I could do without, as the sword combat plays like any other MMO. The basic hotbar combat skills tree stuff here. I hope that in the full version, you can avoid this aspect to some extent. Avoid it because the ship to ship combat is great. It’s different than other combat systems, and while being somewhat simple, has a very tactical aspect to it. The basics of it are of course to line up your cannons with another ship, and blast away. Speed, distance, and skill are all factors in your hit accuracy, which is clearly displayed for you. The cannons then reload and again you fire away. It’s simple enough that I picked up on it right away and even during the tutorial was thinking more about tactics than game mechanics and controls. Speaking of the tutorial, it was fantastic. It moves quickly from ship combat to swordplay, and never feels slow or too long. It does what is very critical in an MMO, grabs you early and gets you into the game.
Overall I was impressed with PotBS, although I’m not sure it sold me enough to make me want to pick it up come release. Hopefully their will be an open beta where I can get a little further into it, and sample some PvP and trading. In my 6 hours with the game, I only managed to complete some quests in the starting town, never leaving it.