Pirates of Black Cove Preview (PC)

It's common practice in videogames development that you have to take on projects out of nessecity, but not quite what you wan to do, to help build up funds for what you really want to create. TimeGate, for example, did a lot of contract work so they could build up the funds to do Section 8, hell, even Creative Assembly started off doing ports of EA sport titles.

Whilst you mainly view the land elements from a 'top-down' view, this is an in-game render of what the environments will be like
That's not to say that Nitro's previous games - East India Company and Commanders: Conquest of the Americas - were means to an end, but their newest title, Pirates of Black Cove, definitely has one of those 'passion project' feel to it. Gone is the historical setting, the complex naval battle engine, the trading and the strategy, and in goes an open world map, pirates, more pirates, and some over-the-top fun.

There's no set genre that you can fit this game into - it's got adventure elements, it's very action based as well, but there's also RPG and even a dabble of RTS as well. You, as one of several unique captains that you can choose from, roam the high seas in your ship. Your goal is to unite the three main pirate factions against the dreaded Pirates of Black Cove faction, and to do this you essentially need to go to them and do stuff for them until they like you.

The factions are well thought out and really stand out from each other, and each are based on particular themes - you have the Pirates, which are your typical pirate stereotype with hooks, blades and... a massive cannoneer. You have the Buccaneers, who revolve around fire arms, from pistols, to rifles to... rockets? And then you have the corsairs, who are more melee based, so knives, clubs... severed heads. You get the idea.
Fortresses like these will be your home for a lot of the game.
This is a remarkably fully featured game. Along with exploration on the main campaign map, there's light management options in the form of building up your various fortresses with key buildings, finding blue-prints to deck out your ship, and then of course the basic questing elements. A first for Nitro, this game actually has land combat, which has a very old school RTS feel. Quests that involve you going on land are usually too difficult for you to do by yourself, so you need to hire crew and soldiers to help you. Depending on which faction you get them from will define their abilities and attributes, and you simple select and click to move and attack. Some units, and your avatar, will have abilities that can help them as well.

Nitro's experience with naval combat really does show though. Whilst it's a completely different experience in this game - there's no separate battle map or anything, it’s still one of the better portions of the game. There’s a real arcade feel to it, it’s well made, it can be challenging if there’s more than one enemy... as interesting as the land combat is, it seems a little clunky compared to the naval combat at the moment.

The quirkiness of the game really shines through here as well. Not only do your ships have the standard cannons, but later on in the game you can find and build special 'black market' weapons... like homing rockets. They had homing rockets back then, right? This tongue-in-cheek approach is apparent all throughout the game, from the game design, the quests... even the dialogue, which is full of double entendres. At the time of writing, there was a serious discussion about how to shoehorn the word 'blowjob' into the game, as a metaphor for getting extra wind in your sales. Yeah, the ESRB is going to love that one...

Nitro have put a lot of work into this - the engine is brand new (and decent, from what we can see), there's a ton of content here... even the game world, reportedly it takes around half an hour to sail from one 'end' to another, and with three general 'zones' (one for each faction, we imagine) plus an extra zone for the end game Black Cove content. On top of that, we're told there's some randomisation as well between playthroughs in terms of the side-quests and locations of collectables.
AI "wingmen" in naval combat is gone, so it's just you vs the world. You'll need every trick in the book to survive...

Whilst we liked Nitro's previous games, we can't begrudged them wanting to do something different. Pirates of Black Cove is shaping up to be a really great game, with all of the humour and tongue and cheek of Magicka (although, not all the launch-day bugs, we hope), and yet with all of the polish and content of any AAA title. The way the game is designed as well suggests that is incredibly open to DLC as well, so this one could definitely be a keeper. Pirates of Black Cove is due out for PC in May, 2011.

Most anticipated feature: Seeing what weird and wonderful weapons you can put on your ship.


By chiefone (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 14, 2011
I love these pirate games! I will be interesting to see how it works with a "monkey island" style humor!
By Illusive_Serb (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 15, 2011
Last good pirate game I liked was Sid Miers Pirates. I wander if I'll like this one. Sounds promiseing thou...
By unsilviu (SI Core) on Apr 16, 2011
Looks great, looking forward to the review
By Kres (SI Elite) on Apr 17, 2011
Hmmm interesting. Didn't knew much about this game. I frankly didn't really liked Sid Meier's Pirates too much. I like the theme so I do hope they make it right. Yep, looking forward to reviews.
By Zvezdalina (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 18, 2011
Yeah, the graphics is nice. I am definitely interested in this one. ;-)
By Illusive_Serb (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 18, 2011
Speaking of graphics. The first two pictures look kind of "cartoon"-ish like, while the third looks "hardcore", I mean what's up with that?
By Kres (SI Elite) on Apr 18, 2011
Different parts of the game Illusive, diff engine perhaps.
By Illusive_Serb (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 19, 2011
I guess they focused more on the battle. Which is for the better. It's just, wierd to use diferent engines in a single game... (perhaps, that is :D)
By Zvezdalina (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 19, 2011
Maybe they wanted to try some different stuff... :-)
By Kres (SI Elite) on Apr 20, 2011
Dunno, Total War does it at least x) I may be wrong here though. Maybe just some static spot when you visit some town/port ot whatever.
By Illusive_Serb (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 20, 2011
I guess we'll just have to wait and see :)
(Also, how is TW useing 2 engines? I'm a TW fan, but I must say, engines and stuff are not my thing)