Pirate101 is a 3D, pirate-themed MMORPG published by KingsIsle Entertainment that presents a lighthearted take on the adventurous life of a pirate. Similar to KingsIsle’s previous title, Wizard101, Pirate101 is a family friendly game that is aimed more towards a younger audience, with bright cartoon-like graphics and an easy learning curve, but provides enough of a challenge to interest older players as well. Although fairly plain and simple, Pirate101 has a character customization process that is both entertaining and detailed. Players are given a customizable backstory that they can use to choose their characters’ features, such as their class. There are five classes to choose from.
Buccaneer: Buccaneers are warriors specialized in wearing heavy armor and wielding large two-hand weapons. They have increased toughness and can easily level the playing field with skills such as Blade Storm, which gives them a second attack after downing an enemy.
Musketeer: Musketeers are long range firearms experts, focusing on direct damage and placing a variety of traps. They can take out enemies from a distance or deal massive damage with their Rain of Mortarshells ability, covering an area with explosive traps.
Privateer: Privateers are group leaders. Instead of engaging in head-on combat they support their companions with strength buffs and healing abilities. Strong Privateers can even mass-heal all of their allies on the field with their Reinforce ability.
Swashbuckler: Swashbucklers are quick and deadly, sneaking up on enemies and taking them out in the blink of an eye. They can easily dodge any attacks and, should they get cornered, strike every enemy around them with their Dance of Steel.
Witchdoctor: Witchdoctors are dark magicians who are trained in arcane and hoodoo magic, weakening enemies with hexes, summoning spirits and casting powerful arcane spells. They can turn the tides of battle by summoning life-draining spirits with their Mournsong spell.
Pirate101 Featured Video
Pirate101 Full Review
By Anthny D’Urbano (SqueezyTime)
After the success of Wizard101, KingsIsle Entertainment follows up with their second online title, Pirate101. While having the familiar colorful and lighthearted feel of its predecessor, Pirate101 freshens things up with a unique setting, a new story and a combination of land and sky combat. Pirate101 utilizes KingsIsle’s “Pay as you go” business model, allowing players to buy small chunks of content as they progress, while providing only a small fraction of free content.
A Pirate’s Tale
The story of Pirate101 is one of adventure, war and flying ships. During a long time of peace and prosperity, in the world of Spiral, a sky pirate by the name of Marco Pollo had discovered secret links, dubbed the Skyways, which lead to distant realms. This discovery allowed nations to form cross-realm colonies and trade routes, greatly increasing commerce and wealth. A nation known as Polaris had eventually become so greedy and power hungry as to start a war against fellow nations for control of the Skyways. Colonies began to fall into anarchy, allowing gangs of pirates to take control of the Skyways.
Players come into the story after the Skyways have been ravaged by the various rival factions, such as the Cutthroats, the Wharf Rats and the Royal Navy. The young Pirates begin as prisoners on a Royal Navy vessel, who then escape to the colony of Skull Island, where they are tasked with defeating the vicious pirate gangs and fulfilling the dream of a peaceful Pirate republic. With the Pirate lords ravaging the Skyways and the Royal Navy seeking to destroy all piracy for good, players are in for quite the adventure.
Creating a character involves all of the familiar features which can be found in any fantasy MMORPG: Gender, physical features, name, class, etc. but Pirate101 expands on the customization process a little bit more. Players are given the ability to decide on the style and color of the character’s outfit. This feature is completely overthrown the second a new piece of gear is dropped, as the previous design is replaced with the design of whichever piece of equipment is acquired. Although the customized outfit is only equipped for a short while, the ability to personalize the style of their gear still encourages the connection that players have with their characters. During character creation Pirate101 also allows players to create their own flag. For those times when a rival ship needs to know just who they are messing with, players are given a collection of patterns, icons and colors to design their flag with. Whether players want a flag displaying a bright white moon with a starry background or a Triceratops over a checkered pattern, there are many possibilities to choose from.
What sets Pirate101’s character creation apart from other MMORPGs is the customizable story. Players are given the backstory that they are orphans and are given several choices to decide the rest of the story. A man named Boochbeard asks a series of questions and provides a selection of answers which will determine main plot points, such as how they lost their parents. One player might decide that it was a mutiny, while another decides that it was a storm. A player’s natural traits are determined by the faction who took in the orphaned child. Being raised by the Bear Clan of Grizzleheim provides natural toughness, while being fostered by the Ninja Pigs of MooShu bestows the young Pirate with fighting prowess. The final decision, the crime that led to the player’s imprisonment, decides the player’s class, such as the Musketeer, who is accused of smuggling goods. The story customization is a unique feature that really helps to set each player’s character apart from anothers’.
Follow the Arrow
For years MMORPGs have been using the same generic formula when it comes to quests. Players are frequently requested to deliver a letter from Incapable Shopkeeper A to Incapable Shopkeeper B, kill x amount of vicious wolves wandering aimlessly in a field, or collect x amount of spider fangs just for fun. Pirate101 not only conforms to this formula, but manages to simplify the process even further. The quests are generally put into one of four categories: Defeat, Gather, Talk To, and Help. Defeat quests are the basic “kill x of y” quests, but in most cases, players are sent to a certain area to defeat a specified target, rather than a pre-determined amount of generic mobs. Gather quests are more-or-less identical to defeat quests, with the exception that the real goal of the quest is to collect an item from the target. Talk To quests are as plain and simple as they sound. The goal is to walk up to an NPC… and talk to it. Help quests are just a combination of quests. The goal is to simply complete quests given by other NPCs.
Reaching quest objectives in Pirate101 is primarily directed by a little yellow arrow at the bottom of the screen. The arrow’s sole purpose is to point in the direction of the current quest objective and display a number indicating the player’s distance from it. This has become a common feature in many MMORPGs, but this feature is quickly turned into a headache. Pirate101 does not give players any kind of instruction, indicator or visual representation of quest objectives, so players are inadvertently forced to watch the arrow as their only means of direction.
Combat in Pirate101 is divided between turn-based, game board style combat on land and realtime combat during skyship battles. On land there are monsters wandering around just like many other MMORPGs but, similar to Atlantica Online, approaching one of them initiates a turn based battle with contenders placed on a movement grid. Each character or monster, based on class, has a specific movement range and attack range per turn, so maneuvering the board and outsmarting the enemy takes a little bit of strategy. One particularly interesting characteristic of the board is the placement. If a battle is initiated next to a tree or around a rock they actually take up spaces and create obstacles on the board, reducing maneuverability and increasing difficulty. Even at a disadvantage, however, players can easily turn the tides of the battle using powerful skills. Skills are gained every 5 levels and can be used once per battle. Players can create the perfect team by grouping together and utilizing the skills of each class.
While a player is in battle, any players walking by can see the battle as it is happening and join in by simply walking right into the enemies. This not only improves the social aspect of the game by connecting players, but also provides support to players who might not be doing so hot in a fight. This feature is a double edged sword, however. Whenever a passerby joins into a battle, extra monsters are also added to the board. This feature works for both teams. If a monster happens to be meandering by, it can join a player’s battle by simply wandering into it. Unfortunately, with every player and monster joining the battle the time between each turn is longer, making the gameplay feel boring.
For the little amount of time that is spent on the ship, players get to experience a completely different style of combat. While soaring through the skies, players will run into enemy ships from time to time, which will trigger the ship to start firing off its cannons. While the cannons fire automatically, players can also utilize different skills to improve their chances in battle.
Not Really Free?
Though Pirate101 is technically free to download and play, most of the game has a cost to unlock. Players are free to play through the introduction chapter of the game but following chapters must be unlocked with “Crowns”, KingsIsle’s premium currency. 2500 Crowns can be purchased for $5, and each chapter (30 total) can be purchased with Crowns, ranging from 749 to 2999 Crowns. Alternatively, players can get every chapter, as well as a few minor perks, by paying a monthly subscription fee of $10/month. Although the majority of the Pirate101 is pay to play, the introduction chapter provides enough gameplay for players to decide whether or not they enjoy the game enough to pay for the content.
For those who are willing to spend the cash, Pirate101 also includes the Crown Shop, where players can spend their Crowns on anything such as clothing, mounts, pets, companions, gear, ship parts and potions. Although PvP has not yet been implemented into the game, the Crown Shop provides paying players with an extreme boost over those who don’t use the Crown Shop.
Final Verdict: Fair
The gameplay in Pirate101 is more or less uninspiring, with monotonous quests and slow, drawn out combat, but the fun atmosphere and in depth customization do a lot to make up for it. Though only a single chapter of Pirate101 is free to play, those who enjoyed Wizard101 or are simply looking for something new should try it out.
Pirate101 System Requirements
Minimum System Requirements
For Windows Users
OS: Windows XP
CPU: 1GHz Intel
VIDEO: Geforce 2 Equivalent (or better)
DISK: 5 GB Free
For Mac Users
Internet: Internet Connection Required
Intel-based Macintosh system running Mac OS X
Operating System:: Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) or newer
Disk Space: 5 GB of free disk space
RAM Space: 512 MB of RAM
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