Revisiting Uncharted Waters Online: ARRGH MATEYS The Full Review!
By Vincent Haoson, OnRPG Journalist
With Uncharted Waters Online finally being officially released, I return to Koei's seven seas F2P MMORPG hoping to see the changes made upon the game's release. Unsurprisingly nothing really has changed with an addition of a few add-ons to the game to which I will elaborate later on.
However, before I get ahead of myself (plus I don't want to assume everyone has read my preview) I'll go through the explanation of what the game is about for the benefit of those who stumbled into this review.
Uncharted Waters Online is a sea-faring F2P MMORPG from Koei, yes, the company who brought us the Dynasty Warriors series is now venturing into the online market as well (they also brought said franchise to the online market too). The game puts you in the shoes of a either a seafaring merchant, maritime or adventurer in about 16-18th century Europe. Uncharted Waters Online is actually an online spin-off of an old NES and SNES game of the same title.
Going through the Seven Seas
Uncharted Water Online gives you three paths to adventure in-game. You either be the free-spirited travel and discovery centric adventurers, or be the money-centric merchants or the swashbuckler of the seas, maritime.
The job classes are easy and self-explanatory enough for anyone who has played any MMORPG. As for those who would be experiencing their first ever MMO in UWO need not fret because the game provides you with a "training course" to help you understand the game's controls and gameplay.
Long Winded "Tutorial"
The training course in UWO is pretty long-winded and tedious. In fact you can't even skip it so expect the game to treat you like a 10-year-old. The training course is disguised as an "academy course" where you are trained to be an effective sea farer. While other MMOs give you the option to skip it, in UWO it's a prerequisite.
Actually, if you're the impatient type (like me) your patience will be tested right then and there. Of course the training awards you with easy fame and experience points, both of which are pretty important in the game.
Fame IS important
When you mention fame in MMOs you'd expect the usual cosmetic add-ons you'd get in the form of titles or what not. However, in UWO fame is as important as your level. In fact, if you want to get to places in UWO you'd have to be "famous" or you won't be able to dock or even explore other areas.
The way you look is ALSO important
There's also another feature in UWO that you'd normally expect as something "cosmetic" or rather something inconsequential for gameplay. And that's the emphasis on your character's looks and disguise.
In terms of your character's "looks" this is translated into Formality Points. The idea behind the formality point system is that better looking characters have a higher sway in the social aspects of the game. To be honest, it's a nice game concept really, but you won't really get to feel the full effects of it till you start fiddling with the investing system. Of course its common sense that investors would want to talk to a spiffy seafarer rather than a dirty pirate, and the NPCs in this game are no different.
On the other hand you need to also "disguise" yourself if you plan to visit ports and countries controlled by the moors. Being a "Christian" in the game would mean you are only limited to visit "Christianized" areas and you'd need to "disguise" yourself if you ever want to visit other areas.
UWO's gameplay is pretty simple, you dock on ports, explore cities, trade, handle pirates, players or even sea creatures and that's that. The game uses a skill system where every level up would allow you to use more skills in whatever tree you choose. You can start out as an adventurer but have skills from the maritime or merchant tree or vice versa.
Also, the game really feels like you are a seafarer with all the emphasis on ports, travelling on ships and even cargo carrying for trade. The game really tries hard to make the game feel authentic and they don't disappoint there.
From ship maintenance to hiring your crew and even more in travelling on the sea, you will get your wits tested from allocating resources, stocking up on supplies and having to think tactically on how your ships are fitted.
If you want an online game that'd deliver the sea faring experience of the age of discovery, then this is your game.
In the spirit of making things authentic, the battles in UWO are tailored similar to actual naval battles of old. There are no instant WIN buttons here but instead you have to angle your ship to be able to fire (if you have only side cannons). You can also "ram" enemy ships if you have the proper equipment or board the other ship if you have enough crewmates to take over.
With the release of the game the inclusion of an item store is expected, and the good thing about the premium store of UWO is that the things players can purchase aren't game breaking. In fact most of the bonuses you can purchase in the game are mostly related to ship travel, exp gain or even cosmetic add-ons and that's that.
Overall, UWO in its released form still retains a lot of the things that I enjoyed from my first impression preview. The game is still a skill grindfest and the long winded tutorial still got on my nerves. My fear of any balance breaking addition to the game was unfounded with the premium store only providing convenience rather than boosting player's capabilities to get an upper hand.
I also like how the game tries hard to be as authentic as it can be. With everything down to the ship maintenance, add-ons and little nuances that really create an ambiance matching the great age of discovery.
Of course the only problem is that your characters look more Asian than European, but really that's just nitpicking.
Graphics - 3/5
Controls - 4/5
Features - 4/5
Customization - 2.5/ 5
Community - 3/5