Uncharted Waters review
Publishers: CJ Internet
Costs: Free to Play
On 27 Feb, 2011
Pros: Deep, detailed, original, and open
Cons: Clunky graphics, steep learning curve
Our Rating: (4/5)
There’s nothing else quite like Uncharted Waters Online in the free-to-play game universe. Is it a maritime battle game or an economic simulator? Is it a history lesson about maritime trade in the sixteenth century? Is it another MMORPG or is it better classed as MMORTS? There are no simple answers because it’s a little bit of all these things.
Diving into Uncharted Waters Online
After a lengthy download, you’re presented with a nice array of choices at character creation. Be a slip of a girl or a giant; it’s up to you. That freedom of choice extends throughout UWO; you’ll rarely feel constrained by this big open-ended game. Choose your character wisely; you’re going to be seeing a lot of him or her over the next few hours.
Your next step is deciding on your class. You can choose exploration, trade, or battle as your primary focus, but you aren’t stuck with those options alone. As the game progresses, you’ll get to decide if you want to be fairly decent at a number of things or really good at just a few, and your initial class is only a guideline, not a fence.
You’ll then decide if you want to go through the tutorial. Yes, you do. You really do. If you don’t, you’ll miss out on valuable experience, items, and money. Even more important, though, is the education you’ll miss. Uncharted Waters Online is an astonishingly complex game; without the tutorial, you’ll wind up treading water instead of sailing the high seas. Stick with the lengthy tutorial. It’s well worth your time if you intend to find your way around this vast game.
How Big Is Uncharted Waters Online?
“Vast” describes both the amount of information you’ll need to assimilate and the size of the world in which your character moves. The game’s world map is the real world map with sixteenth-century borders, and it’s huge. Although this makes exploration exciting, it also slows the pace of the game. If you like non-stop action, UWO might not be for you.
As for the initially overwhelming tide of information UWO sends at you in the tutorial, it’s only the beginning. The intricacies of the game’s trading, skill trees, and classes are fractal in their complexity; the more closely you look, the more detail you’ll see. This isn’t a negative, though, for anyone who wants a thought-provoking game that will take months to master.
Pirates of the Caribbeans (and Everywhere Else)
Eventually, you’ll get to experience PVP. As with other aspects of Uncharted Waters Online, PVP is open-ended. You can captain a merchant fleet, hunt NPC or PC pirates, or just explore; it’s up to you. Just about any permutation of alliance and enmity is possible. You’ll start off paddling around in the kiddie pool of protected waters, so don’t worry that you’ll be forced to walk the plank too soon. Combat isn’t UWO’s strong suit, but with so many other possibilities within the game, that probably won’t be a sticking point for the game’s intended audience.
If you’re looking for a truly novel game experience and have a lot of time and brainpower to invest, Uncharted Waters Online might be the sunken treasure you’ve been seeking for a while. Only its slow pace and old-fashioned graphics kept it from getting full marks; 4 out of 5 isn’t at all bad, though.