Over the last few patches AV has been adding more boats to Darkfall, including two utility boats, one that scoops up fish for mastery-level cooking, and another that scoops up ‘sea junk’ like ship cannons and building mods. Both ships add a PvE/harvesting element to the seas, and in turn bring out pirates looking to plunder them.
That last sentence is often seen on paper for games (including DF1) and never materializes. At least not organically; at best a game will add a ‘pirate’ class and stage pirate action under a specific scenario, but really the content is no different from any other pre-build; it’s just pirate themed now.
Currently in DF:UW pirating is a very real thing, and it’s a blast. Part of that comes from the fact that it happens out in the world rather than in an instance, which leads to things like a quick coastal spawn raid where you and ten others pull your boat up to the shore, jump off, and (hopefully) quickly kill anyone farming a spawn before sailing off into the distance with all the loot.
Or you spot one of the slower harvesting ships, successfully board and capture it, and as you finish up, a 3rd party comes along with their ships and you go from victorious pirate to desperately trying to escape.
Or as you are out looking for ships, players back at your coastal city report an enemy ship is attacking, and as the ship you are on returns home, you surprise the attackers and end up with a new ship for the clan to play with.
Point being, the fact that all of this happens out in the world means that while you might head out with the intention of fighting another ship, what ultimately ends up happening is far more varied than that, and not always by your choosing.
Another factor that makes all of this so fun is the combat mechanics of DF. If this was a tab-target game, ship to ship (and water fights) would not play out all that differently than ‘normal’ combat. In DF, what works on land might not in the water, and how a captain moves the ship is critical, as is the crew supporting it. In a way, ship combat in DF is a fun ‘mini-game’ without the usual shallow, short-term thinking that goes into most mini-game MMO implementations.
Lately the seas have been full of ships, combat is plentiful, and Sea Fortresses are coming ‘soon’. Good times.