Friday 30 March 2007
Bounty Bay is big. Or at least it is in China where, we're reliably told, 15 million players are already sailing the huge open seas that dominate most of this nautically orientated MMO's world map. So, what's the appeal and - beyond China - could this maritime massively multiplayer offering be a real challenger to World of Warcraft?
Realistically, we doubt it, but Bounty Bay - which is set between the 14th and 16th Centuries - promises to appeal to PC gamers that want to submerge themselves into a seriously deep MMO. And, of course, those that fancy the idea of playing in a huge world where wizards don't get a look in will also be interested.
The lure of becoming a cutthroat pirate and reeking havoc in sea battles, searching for treasure and lying low in secret hideouts is definitely the most tempting for us, although more noble adventurers and land lubbers will be equally well catered for with a diverse range of skills which can be developed according to preference as you progress.
Cruising the open waves in a convoy of ships (vessels can be hoisted up to level 10) also sends a shiver down our timbers, although we imagine that there will be plenty of warships hunting in packs eager to broadside any lone boats, so working with a roundly equipped guild will be essential when out on the briny.
And Guilds keen to conquer won't be limited to sea battles - they will also be able to fight it out for control of some of the 60+ historical cities and ports. Of course, the victor's spoils will bring obvious benefits in terms of power and resources, although they will then have to defend their stronghold from jealous aggressors.
To ensure Bounty Bay stays on an even keel, there should also be plenty for solo adventurers to enjoy. With specific guild quests and tasks to complete within cities, discoveries to make (from plants and animals through to notable wonders like the Egyptian Pyramids) and more laid back vocations - such as farmer, fisherman or miner - to specialise in.
But, really, if it's a choice between chopping wood and firing cannons? Just show us the fuse, m'hearty...