Pirates and privateers, merchants and naval officers, free play and storylines... this latest update truly has it all!
Build 14 Beta 4.0 was released very recently and is easily the biggest update we have posted in many years.
The following trailer shows a small selection of the cool new content added since our last major update from 2013:
Yet there is so much more! In fact, doing it all justice in a single article is near-impossible, but let us try anyway...
First Things First
There has been some very promising progress on our non-commercial indie game Hearts of Oak: Conquest of the Seas (HoO) over the past year. Most importantly, we have periodically released playable "Proof Of Concept" demos, some of which are available for download from our IndieDB page.
So why are we still working on this old game when we also have a new one in the works? Is that not a waste of time and efforts? Well, as far we're concerned, it's not! After all, HoO is still in early development stages and it isn't ready yet to try out advanced game concepts. Therefore, we are "testing those waters" with PotC instead.
Many of the new features in this update are specifically meant to gain feedback that will be put to good use in HoO. In other words, you can help HoO development by playing PotC and letting us know what you think of our approach to these new gameplay elements!
A truly staggering amount of work has been done on the various storylines in the game, with more polish and finished content than ever before.
For starters, the Jack Sparrow storyline (Hoist the Colours) has been improved, now with more piratey business, especially when dealing with the Pirate Lords. There are improved dialogs and more of the film characters have gotten appropriate character models. In addition, the "Tales of a Sea Hawk", "Assassin" and "Bartolomeu o Portugues" storylines now also make use of an improved Letter of Marque system.
For fans of the Napoleonic era, the Hornblower storyline has been polished and extended to provide a more complete and engaging experience. Combined with improvements to both French and British paint schemes and the naval career path, Hornblower is now a more well-rounded and fun storyline to play.
Lastly, we have added two completely new storylines: "The Gold-Bug", a unique experience by Jack Rackham based on the short story by Edgar Allen Poe, and "Ardent", a new original story written by Grey Roger and set in the Golden Age of Piracy. We'll provide more details on these new additions in a separate article soon, so stay tuned.
When comparing the latest update with the previous one, at first impression it may seem that several storylines have been removed. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
These storylines, featuring characters such as Horatio Nelson, Jack Aubrey and Jean Lafitte with only an opening sequence have now been joined into a single Free Play storyline. As a result, with all sidequests now available in all storylines, there is far more free play to be had! Part of the La Croix opening has even been repurposed as a new sidequest available for all players.
There are now 27 pre-defined characters available to choose from; some famous historical ones, and others well-know from fiction. Each one of them offers something special, be it a ship, a flag or a reward somewhere later during the game.
You can even start the game as cursed Davy Jones, unable to set foot ashore, or as Barbossa working hard to lift his curse. All the various naval officers, including James Norrington, John Paul Jones and Michiel de Ruyter, will receive their appropriate commands upon promotion. Alternatively, you can always freely customize your starting choices and are not bound by the pre-defined suggestions.
Different background professions offer different starting scenarios, some easier than others. If you truly welcome a challenge, try starting as a "Castaway"! For more details, refer to our dedicated Wiki page that tells you even more.
All-New Styles of play
Career choices just became far more immersive! We've been working hard to give you a more definitive choice of careers in the game, and the new Player Types system does just that! There's also a new "Background Profession" option when starting the game; select your chosen past profession for all the experience that comes with it! (Note that only Naval Officer, Corsair and Merchant affect career options from this menu).
What will you do? How will you do it? You decide!
You have four career choices selectable either before or once in the game: Naval Officer, Pirate, Merchant and Privateer.
Selecting the Naval Officer career ensures you a reasonably paid, potentially lucrative job in your regent's very own navy! This is a highly polished corner of gameplay, in which you can not only be promoted, gain powerful ships and hire free crew as you progress, but also be given land and titles! Be careful though; breaking the navy's rules can have strong consequences. You also have no choice of ship command until Rank 7, so this career is advisable for players who prefer to just get out there and fight with minimal micromanagement!
Have your very own battle fleet, at no personal cost!
Fed up with those governors and all their taxes? Or maybe you dream of nothing but bloated cargo vessels, ripe for the taking? Well now you can actively seek such a living! With our improved pirate gameplay, you can explicitly choose the life of a Pirate and benefit greatly from corsair ship designs, brilliant blacksmiths and high resell prices on all captured vessels! You can now also gain ranks from within the pirating community. All you need to do visit their leader who lives on Nevis, and the pirates will welcome you among their bretheren!
Do ye have what it takes to fly the 'Roger? Or arr thee a 'lubber?
Perhaps, though, you have slightly different dreams; dreams of bloated cargo vessels, en-route to financial freedom? Pick up a merchant license (by selecting the 'Merchant' career at game start or visiting an India Company office in-game) and start watching the gold flood in! Say goodbye to hardship!
Perhaps a life of weighing the books...and gold...is for you?
Ok... maybe it's not quite that easy. After all, you still have the expense of a license to begin with and the constant threat of losing it to piracy; not to mention the very real risk of losing your license should you be caught involved in any illicit activities...
Let's assume, though, that you're not interested in following orders, pirating or trading. What then? Welcome to the life of a privateer!
Your very own flag! Who hasn't dreamed of that?
As a non-commissioned servant of your chosen nation(s), you'll still benefit from promotions and ranks within that nation's forces, whilst at the same time being free to pursue your own desires. So long as they don't include piracy, the horizon really is yours! Simply visit any non-hostile governor to discuss getting one, or start the game with a Corsair background!
A good tip is to complete ship hunting quests for them beforehand; this way, your LoM will be far cheaper to get in-game! So what are you waiting for? Be the captain of your own destiny!
It is not advisable being this close to a hostile fort. A friendly one behind you attacking a mutual enemy on the other hand, can yield dividends in booty!
Always a flagship feature of the Build Mod, we have further enhanced the relations mechanic! You'll notice a much more robust punitive/reward system than seen in previous releases, as well as a deeper integration with the Letter of Marque. Just make sure you select your chosen nation before starting the game, else you may have some reparations to do!
"Yes, sir, I'm through with the pirates. That relationship just wasn't worth it anymore..."
However, even for the best of us it can be confusing at times to quite know who's on your side and who isn't. That's why we've implemented a Relations tutorial into every game start, intended to get you familiar with how to make or break relations in the game. There's also a new book you'll get given; The Art Of War, by the end of which you should be ready to dabble in international affairs!
Green means you're ready for a promotion with that nation.
A very brief overview can be found below. However, if you wish to find out more about this, once again the Build Info text included in the game directory is a good place to be!
- Actively betraying your served nation will give you a serious relation hit with them and their allies.
- Disrespectful acts, such as attacking without a legal reason (for example, a Merchant never has a legal reason to attack any ships bearing non-pirate flags) or committing acts under a false flag friendly to the victim will immediately lower your relations.
Attacking a Spanish fort under Spanish colours isn't recommended if you want to keep your nose clean!
- While you can have multiple Letters of Marque, this will have the effect of spreading your reputation points. So for example, killing a pirate ship will yield less points per nation than if you were to have a single allegiance; thus reducing overall progression.
- You can ONLY gain points with a LoM. Otherwise, you'll be at zero or lower with friendly nations.
- Pirates use a slightly different set of rules to other 'factions', and this is reflected in how their relations system works. Just do the opposite of what you're meant to do when serving a nation, and you'll soon enough find your allegiance has automatically changed...
- Your character can be recognised as being a pirate by citizens; making shore parties mandatory in those cases!
Tip: If you become a 'Pirate Captain' and don't quite know why, visit the Questbook under the F2 menu and find the yellow 'Pirate' entry. This will tell you how you went from honest sea captain to bloodthirsty corsair!
Skills and Abilities
With a completely rewritten code for skills and abilities, it's now possible for you to hire officers with specific traits and bonuses; who will then get rank and HP (health) bonuses based upon where you post them on your crew. This brings a whole new level of immersion to fleet management!
This fella is clearly a gunner. How do I know? The stats in green tell me his specialized traits...and the title gives it away, of course!
We have included a new explanation in-game to aid you when hiring your first officer. A tutorial on this aspect of gameplay may also be planned for future releases. Levelling has also seen some tweaks; notably, battle performance has been enhanced by stacking XP for the end of battle.
Four new abilities have also been added; Improved Potions, Poison Resistance, Master of Disguise and Cooking. The first three are intended to improve your survivability in the game....if you live long enough to attain them, that is...whilst cooking saves you gold by reducing the amount of food you need to buy the crew!
Periods and New Ships!
Aesthetics across the board have seen changes. Among many other fixes, French naval ships now feature greater model accuracy, with new colour schemes and tricolour flags in the late period which means you can now sail a convincing Napoleonic French navy!
This is significant, whether you're playing as the French (you get proper ships) or British (you get proper targets)!
Beyond this, there are several brand new ship models for you to sail the seven seas in other periods with, as seen in the trailer! From heavy Pinnaces to a light Brigantine, and the addition of a Satanist Fleut and several others to the early periods; meaning you can now field a more diverse range of ships than ever before to launch against your foes! At sea isn't the only facet of the game to receive new period additions, however. For instance, soldiers will all now carry period-accurate muskets! Perfect for when you want that added bit of accuracy to your town brawls!
Just don't get on the wrong end of one!
Aside from numerous fixes to make quests fit periods better and vice versa, in-period nation relations have been made to reflect great conflicts of the period; for example, the historical Nine Year's War can be experienced between 1688 and 1697 ('Golden Age of Piracy'), most notably with a mutual hatred for France! This is significant as it has the effect of giving certain characters a changing or unique situation; such as Jean-Baptiste du Casse's French lineage giving him a target-rich environment from the get-go!
Just don't forget to check your period at the beginning of a game; as this can have a *major* effect on how your campaign/scourge goes!
Improved Smuggling and Escort Quests
Enjoy smuggling illegal goods right under the nose of an island's authorities? Well, now the stakes are higher than ever before! With more effective coastguard patrols, increasingly distrustful smugglers, wagers to get schedules and officers who will do the scouting for you, every step you take or decision you make increases the risk! A new tutorial on smuggling and improved dialogue also makes the whole process more straightforward for the amateur smuggler!
Don't forget; as with visiting a store, you need to go through with a deal before seeing prices.
Let's assume, though, that the life of illegal goods isn't for you; that you'd prefer waging war in the open sea, in defence of trade? Escort quests have also seen huge improvements since the last build, meaning it's now possible to get paid more for defeating threats...but also that more threats come to you! You'll also need to pay closer attention to which nation owns the destination, as raising a false flag around your escort without prior notice will not go down well...
You must inform the merchant if you intend on raising a false flag!
So, there it is: a by no means unabridged list of what's new and improved in Build 14 Beta 4! If you're interested in more info on a particular section or subject, feel free to consult with the Build Info.txt document in your game directory, or visit the PiratesAhoy! forums for a friendly chat with the team.
Now... go get that horizon!
Just don't let this happen to you! Unless you're an iron man and want this to be your first ship, of course...
After our exciting descriptions here, of course you will want to try out this modpack update as well!
But what if you don't have access to the original 2003 Pirates of the Caribbean game by Akella?
Well, the original 2000 Sea Dogs game by Akella and one of its sequels, renamed Sea Dogs: Caribbean Tales, are now available from GOG.com and so is the remake of Sid Meier's Pirates!
We consider this quite promising news and have high hopes that PotC will join their ranks very soon.
To help make that happen, be sure to vote for it on the GOG.com wishlist! The more votes it gets, the higher the chance this will happen.