Pirates of the Burning Sea kicked off Monday morning for Pre-Boarding Party customers (aka, pre-order folks like me). I was a bit dismayed that FLS didn’t make the updated client available for download prior to Monday morning launch, but for open beta participants who already had the client installed, the patch was done in only about 25 minutes or so during prime time U.S. West coast. Even with the damned SOE patcher.
Reading the forums, not everyone had that kind of success, but over all, it wasn’t that bad for a first day. Still there are glitches, hitches and snags. Laggy in starter zones, but not unbearably so. Of course, I rolled French and went with Wilhelm and Gaff to a server which satisfied Wilhelm’s server selection criteria. Looking at the login screens, I think we made the right choice.
Enter, Henri Le Petomane, Privateer.
On Blackbeard, which was the original closed beta server, many many folks returned I’m sure because of the community they developed over the betas. Couple the “first server” with ostensibly the “coolest” name and you have a recipe for heavy pop lag. Sure enough, the Pirate faction was shown as either “Moderate” or “Heavy” load most of the evenings for the last few days, as was the British. Good for the economy, bad for performance.
I’m glad I took a break from Open Beta. The excitement of a new world returned, and it appears that FLS has made strides in improving the game experience in measurable ways. Most notably, avatar combat has improved. Its not great, but it seems much better. I think FLS may have pulled just enough of a rabbit out of the hat to get people over the hump. If you keep drilling the “this is not an avatar game” mantra into your head, you might just be able to look to the future with hope.
The UI is still stinky, but eh, I’m over it mostly. What I miss most is social infrastructure like grouping tools and Society (aka guild) warehouses (aka banks) to facilitate society cooperation: sharing resources and coordinated production.
With the economy so new, there aren’t many ships to upgrade to. They are starting to come online slowly. I’ll probably end up getting my “free” Bermuda Sloop by turning in my privateer pennants. The annoying part of this is that you can only turn in these pennants in your national capital. In the case of the French, that is Pointe-a-Pitre in the Antilles which is a quite a haul from the French noob starter city of Charlesfort on Florida’s northern Atlantic coast.
This kind of long distance, hands-on travel was potentially game breaking for me. It takes a long time and unlike Eve or WoW where you can set your destination and then go read War and Peace, you have to actively navigate. Good for immersion, bad for the casual player.
Of course, surfing around (cheating :p) looking at potential ship upgrades and production line set ups I came across something I completely missed. Like so much in life, its was just under my nose but I didn’t see it (nor is it really highlighted in the game or tutorials to my knowledge). If you have a ship drydocked in a distant port, the Harbor Master can simply transport you to it. DOH!
Think Eve with shuttles to go pick up your new space ride, except you can always get back there instantly if you leave the shuttle there. This is Key and I’m an idiot for not figuring it out sooner. Here’s what it looks like:
Since you have to be present in any port where you have economic operations (lumbermills, mines, plantations, etc.) in order to initiate those activities, simply having a crappy ship in drydock there gives you instant access from whereever you are. You still have to collect and transport all the goods to where you wish to use them or sell them, but this takes the significant sting out of some of the time sump back and forth.
So far, I’m cautiously optimistic. Looking forward to getting some group missions going with Wil and Gaff and see how long the magic lasts.