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  • Jason Yeung, Game Designer and Programmer, Disney's Virtual Reality Studio
  • May 2, 2007

While there are plenty of islands and on-land environments to explore throughout Pirates of the Caribbean Online, a large part of the game's action and adventure will take place on the high seas. To give some additional insight into this vast portion of the game, we'd like to share details related to ship-based battle, sea weapons, and skills.

At sea, players will spend a lot of their time seeking treasure and attempting to sink enemy ships. The owner of a ship, the Captain, steers the course while members of the crew fire at enemy ships. Captains get a bigger cut of whatever loot is gained at battle but there is also more risk - if their ship is damaged, they have to bear the cost of repairing it. That said, players may prefer to join a friend's crew, saving themselves the risks associated with captaining a ship while getting the chance to build up their cannoneering skills on deck and taking home a part of the booty. Regardless, this team-based cooperative battle design is one aspect of Pirates of the Caribbean Online that makes it stand out from battles in other sea-based games.

At sea, Captains and their crew will encounter many different types of enemy ships - those of the Navy, Eastern India Trading Company, and skeleton crews. To enter battle, players simply sail within cannon range of the enemy and fire away! In addition, players will cross paths with Flag Ships which are usually escorted by a fleet of enemy ships. In order to defeat Flag Ships, players must first sink all the escort ships, shoot the hull, and use grappling hooks to pull it closer. Once it is within range, crew members jump on a plank and climb aboard for some hand-to-hand combat. Flag ships are a challenge to defeat, but the loot is well worth the effort!

So, how do players defend their ships? With cannons, of course! Below deck cannons are controlled by the Captain and a large ship can hold up to 16! On deck, players can have between 2 and 10 cannons, which crew members manually control. In addition to cannons, there are different types of skills that contribute to a player's success in sea-based battles - sailing skills, cannoneering skills, and passive skills.

As a Captain sinks enemy ships, their reputation is increased and they earn sailing skills. "Full Sail" gives ships a burst of speed and "Come About" lets a Captain make quick U-turns. The "Ramming" skill allows them to steer their ship into other enemy ships, causing a HUGE amount of damage. Captains must be particularly careful while sailing though and avoid running into rocks or even an island because this would cause significant damage to their own ship.

Crew members, on the other hand, level up in cannoneering skills (as opposed to sailing skills) as they improve at using cannons in battle. With experience, crew members unlock different types of cannon ammunition that they can choose to purchase. At first, players begin with Round Shot, a basic cannonball that has pretty good range and inflicts a decent amount of damage to enemy ships. Grape Shots are a step up and are particularly effective against enemy crew members. Then there are Chain Shots which are great to use against enemy masts and sails. In addition to these, players can also unlock explosive cannon ammunition, flaming cannonballs and magical thunder bolts...enemies better watch their back (or should I say stern)!

In addition to cannoneering and sailing skills, players can also learn passive skills for sea-based battle. For example, a Captain can level up in their ability to maneuver the ship or they can increase the rate at which they load their broadsides (which usually takes longer than loading on-deck cannons).

In Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Captains use these sea weapons and skills as they travel through the Caribbean in search of a plentiful bounty of treasure. Players can't be too greedy, though, because they will run into monstrous sea creatures and skeletons, the Navy, and the East India Trading Company along the way - enemies that can easily sink a player's ship and steal their treasure. With the right teamwork, strategy, and skills, however, players are likely to succeed and may even have a chance at becoming one of the most legendary Pirates on the high seas!

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