Uncharted Waters Online
Posted 2 years ago By - David Slauenwhite
Primer your canons, check your cargo, and gear up to explore because it’s time to set sail with Uncharted Waters Online. The online free-to-play iteration of the Uncharted Waters IP by Tecmo Koei has finally been brought over to the west by Netmarble. Fans have been enjoying its 14th century goodness since the Open Beta launched. Stocked with many of the elements reminiscent of the previous titles we loved and enjoyed on SNES, UWO brings lifelike exploration and a sense of realistic sea travel to the MMO stage. I’ve been anticipating this title since it was released in Asia a few years ago, hoping someone would pick it up and bring it to us.
Uncharted Waters Online has a nice sandbox feel to it with the various intertwining systems that allow players to build the kind of character they want. The core classes, which advance into various sub classes, there’s a near limitless amount of builds possible based on the skills players choose; allowing for a myriad of individual play styles. You can focus all your energy on exploration, trade, combat or a great many combinations of the three. This gives you both a nice mixture of various game play elements as well as avenues to generate money to upgrade to newer and more formidable ships.
Character creation, as one would expect, is much the same as can be found in most MMOs, beginning with selecting your character’s nationality. There are several countries to choose from and each nation vies to control ports through the player’s investment and eventually battles to control those ports. Once nationality is selected, the next step is deciding on the character’s basic look which has several body archetypes, hair, face, and accessory options. The beginner class is either in Adventure, Trade, or Battle; which gives some low-end skills and language packages. Languages are required when visiting different countries and ports as you travel through out the game world, which is immense to say the least.
Skills have their own levelling system based on usage, and upgrading one skill can unlock another on the tech tree, regardless of class. So long as the time and money are invested, your Junior Naval Officer can make a nice supplement as an arms merchant and have a penchant for archaeology. The only real restriction on skills is the character’s overall level, which is the combined total the Adventure, Trade, and Battle levels. The progression of these unlock more skill slots for the character, allowing for new skills to be added - regardless if they are complimentary to the existing or dabbling in something new. Skills and Languages can be purchased from many of the “guilds” for the different class types or from nobles found in the various cities and ports. Classes themselves have a selection of favored skills which can be purchase without the requirement of any of the skills before it on the tech trees. All in all, this makes diverse character builds not only very welcome, but adds flavor to the experience and allows for much more varied parties or “fleets” as they are referred to in the game.
Beginning UWO players are taken to the school which offers tutorial quests starting at the Beginner level, through to Intermediate and Advanced. Adventure, Trade, and Maritime schools will get the players acquainted with the various aspects of each type. Tutorials and practical tests in the various aspects of gameplay and activities the players will encounter throughout the game can also be found there. Additionally, it gives a wealth of experience points, money and fame. It’s a great introduction into the world of UWO and allows players to accelerate their experience as they journey outward into the big wide world. After the teachings are done, there are a ton of quests to be found from the three guilds, offering different difficulty levels and rewards; and each home port has a storyline quest. There is always something to do, between sailing the world’s oceans, fending off random encounters with pirates, and exploring the various open areas where the players can engage in land battle or treasure/discovery hunting.
Levelling of the three components is additionally important when it comes to purchasing or building a new ship. Ships all have certain level requirements, higher for the main attribute (be it Adventuring, Trade, or Maritime) but also there are secondary or tertiary requirements of have a certain amount of levels in the other two categories. It makes for well rounded game play and motivates the players to experience and dabble in the other two components of game play. Further ship options beyond the general ones come from investing in ports and, to an extent, gaining fame and completion of quests.
A healthy crafting system is also available for players to create their own gear; ranging from ship building to cannons, land weapons, food, and consumable items. This is integral to the trade system as players will buy craft materials from the markets within towns and ports, which in turn they can gain XP and money from as they sell their wares to other players. Selling your creations, drops, and other materials can be done through the normal personal player shop or a bazaar system - or if a player joins a company (the term for player guilds in UWO) - through the company shop in their company’s home port.
Another important aspect of the game play is the sailing. Unlike many MMOs, there isn’t a teleport system to traverse great distances with a single click. Players must sail between ports, landfalls, and other areas which make for a slower pace of play. During the travel time, a player can work on their crafting (if they have the materials in their cargo) or engage pirates that inhabit the seas. I should mention the liner system players can board to travel to select ports. However, the cost is expensive and it does not allow the transport of cargo for the trip. Sailing has its own rewards as the more you sail, the more Adventure XP you gain, which is always nice.
UWO’s art style and graphics, while a couple years old, is still nice and doesn’t offend the eyes. It also well represents the time period in which the game is set. The ships and architecture of the ports are well made with few to no errors. Although there are times I’ve encountered some unseen obstacle in the ocean - such as submerged reefs - that my poor ship has crashed into. Overall however, it is well made for a game of its time and most animations for ships, characters, battles and the like are all animated smoothly. Likewise, the music and sound suit the settings and sound effects match up with the aspects they represent. Much of the score, while often relaxing, can get a bit tiresome after a certain length of time, but that is common in most MMOs and overall does not detract from the play.
Overall, I’m very much enjoying playing UWO and it’s a nice break from the usual MMOs to be found. Certainly there are some similar games out there, but of them all I’d have to say UWO is a diamond among the rest of the common jewels. It isn’t as fast paced as many, but it’s a nice relaxed game that I can sink many hours into just exploring, trading and sailing around the world; as well as building up my fame to unlock new port permits and eventually discovery the world and the many treasures found within.
+ Free to play
+ Great community
+ Deep game play and learning curve
- Graphics while nice are dated
- So many skill options can be overwhelming
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Release Date : 2010/10/07
System : PC
Publisher : Koei
Developer : NetMarble
Category : MMO
ESRB : RP
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