Now we get to the game’s other dirty little secret: piracy has a very small role in the overall scope of Burning Sea. The top end of play is a game of faction warfare between the British, French, and Spanish rather than a Jolly old player-versus-player Rogering. Each faction is trying to win ‘Victory Points’, by attacking and securing dozens of towns, looting enemy ships, and beating up passing merchants. Eventually, one side will ‘win’ the game; they’ll have a party, and grab treasure. Then the Caribbean will reset with some handicaps and head-starts to even up the playing field.
There’s a pirate nation too, but by joining it you’re unlikely to ever be in a position to win; you’re just there to cause problems for everyone else. Why are we fighting? For property and conquest rights. Owning towns means you can harvest their resources, needed to build top-of-the-line ships and their upgrades. The faction that owns the means of production will a) get rich and b) win.
This is fundamentally fun, but there are basic flaws. Now that the game is up and running, and not in beta, we can see how the developers’ vision is playing out. The game relies on players picking a nation to play as from the start, and once picked you’re forever allied to it. There’s no way of creating alternate characters of a different race without deleting existing characters or changing server.
The mechanics for scrapping are oddly restrictive. You can’t just waltz up to an enemy and fire broadsides: fighting is only allowed in narrowly defined zones.