Pirates of Black Cove Updated Impressions - Land and Sea
We take another look at how developer Nitro Games is putting a friendly face on a high-seas menace.
We'll begin emailing you updates about %gameName%.
Back in the day, pirates were bad news. They raped, pillaged, and generally destroyed everything they came across with little to no remorse. With Pirates of Black Cove, a real-time strategy game from Paradox Interactive and Nitro Games, the developers are taking a more lighthearted approach to these high-seas malcontents. We got to take a closer look during a recent hands-off demonstration.
Your journey begins as one of three guns for hire, such as the aptly named Walker de Planc, whom we met in our previous coverage. Each of these heroes is defined by three statistics: speed, damage, and toughness. After selecting your hero, your first order of business is to start working for one of the three major seafaring factions so that you can win their favor. Depending on how you want to play the game, there is a faction to suit your style. The Buccaneers excel at ranged combat, Corsairs are more adept at melee fighting, and the ever-resourceful Pirates (the good ones) can do a little bit of both. After allying yourself with one of the three factions, it becomes your duty to unite the other two under your banner and take the fight to the pirates of Black Cove (the bad ones) using the powers of teamwork, friendship, and cannonballs.
Your battle against the pirates of Black Cove takes place on both land and sea. On land, each faction has a stronghold that acts as a hub town where you can buy new items for your hero, recruit troops, and collect quests. Once you have accepted a quest--such as rescuing a kidnapped person or stopping (destroying) a messenger ship--you'll need to recruit some help for the battle ahead. You can recruit squads of basic units or more-powerful individual units to join you on your quest. Combat is handled with some basic real-time strategy controls from a top-down perspective. In the few skirmishes we saw, our ragtag group of scallywags were quickly routed by some well-armed Colonial riflemen. If you find yourself low on health, a cask of grog can restore some of your health. However, drinking too much will impair your combat performance as your character's blood alcohol level rises.
On the sea, you command a single ship rather than a squad of men. The ship's controls are pretty basic, with the W and S keys controlling your sails (as well as your speed) and the A and D keys turning the ship. When you need to take the fight to another vessel, the main tactic for naval combat is encircling the enemy and spraying them with cannonballs. The Q and E keys manage your weapons, which deal more damage based on how long you wait in between volleys. A red meter indicates when your cannons are primed to fire, or you could spam shots for less damage. While your starter ship is pretty puny, you will be able to tweak your vessel's speed, maneuverability, cannon damage, and other statistics with the Pimp the Ship customization options (sadly, you won't be able to install flat-screen televisions everywhere). However, all of those upgrades pale in comparison to the game's special weapons. From the human catapult that can capture ships, to clusters of technologically advanced homing missiles, these outlandish weapons forgo plausibility in favor of sheer awesomeness.
While Pirates of Black Cove might not be the most complex or technically impressive strategy game you'll play this year, the game's great sense of humor could make it a simple pleasure. However, the game won't include a multiplayer component, so you'll have to make do with the 8- to 10-hour campaign. You can set sail for Pirates of Black Cove later this year on the PC.