A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the game has bloody swordfights, gunfights at sea, some mild cursing, and a fair amount of alcohol references. However, the biggest concern is the same as with any other online game of this genre -- it's easy to get "hooked" since the game is, in essence, designed to never be truly beaten. This in turn, keeps players paying the monthly subscription fee to play. In addition, as an online game, it is difficult for the developers to completely control the environment, so it is possible to run into more adult language or topics on the in-game message boards. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for kids under age 12.
What's it about?
PIRATES OF THE BURNING SEA moves away from the traditional online role-playing fare of elves and goblins, instead letting players fight on the high seas and port towns of the Caribbean for riches and power. Players choose to be either a rascally pirate fighting for their own acclaim or as a British, Spanish, or French captain fighting for the glory of their country. As one of the nationalists, players can also choose whether to center their strategy on skillful trade as a merchant or focus on military strength as a naval captain or privateer.
Is it any good?
Overall, the game sparkles like a freshly opened treasure chest. With a huge map of the Caribbean before them, the game offers a nearly endless supply of well-designed quests. Missions are diverse, ranging from crossing swords with local pirate gangs, to running rum into a blockaded city. An overarching goal has players working together as a nation to conquer other nation's ports for control of important resources. The game really shines when players take to the sea. The game goes far beyond simply having the biggest ship/most guns to win. In fact, through the skillful use of sailing techniques and strategy, lower-level players can play and compete with higher-level players -- a unique opportunity in a game of this genre.
The game isn't all diamonds and rubies though -- a few flaws tarnish an otherwise well-done game. The sword fights are far inferior to the action at sea. Fewer options for strategy, and a lot of similarity between one battle to the next makes the land sequences far less interesting. Boarding an opponent's ship is particularly frustrating, since targeting a particular enemy such as the captain is a real challenge. Another major fault of the game is the lack of instruction for the more challenging aspects of the game. In particular, players are left to figure out the fairly complex economic system of manufacturing and trading goods after only a very brief tutorial. Players short on patience may grow tired of trying to figure out the game before they start to uncover some of its true treasures.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about where they get their main enjoymentfrom when playing video games. Is it beating the game? Is it in growing and developing their characters? Is it finding new stories and being part of the story as it plays out? In a game as large as this one, do any of those motivations change?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.