Rob Fahey of Eurogamer writes:
Pirates of the Burning Sea is the latest slice of popular culture to take inspiration from the corsairs who roamed the Caribbean Sea during the late 1600s and early 1700s - or, at least, from their swashbuckling, cinematic descendants. It's also the latest massively multiplayer game to squeeze into this increasingly crowded market, which means that it'll take more than a few references to Pieces of Eight and walking the plank to convince wary landlubbers to hop on board.
The game is presently in "pre-launch", which means that it's technically finished with its beta phase and gradually filling up with paying customers who have pre-ordered the game. Everyone else gets to start walking the decks tomorrow, 22nd January. Despite the end of the beta, however, we're still seeing some major changes being put in place in the game - just recently, there was a fairly large re-jig of the progression system for low-level players - so it's clear that not everything is final, as such.
We have no illusions about Pirates of the Burning Sea challenging World of Warcraft's throne, but we doubt that its developers are aiming for that lofty goal anyway. The game is too rough and ready for the mass market; its user interface is painful at times, cluttered with meaningless icons right from the outset, and ill-suited to the complexity of some of its underlying systems. However, for a niche audience to whom the idea of a bustling player economy and superbly fluid factional PvP system appeals, the lure of the pirating life will be hard to resist.
This, we sincerely hope, will be an audience big enough to keep the servers ticking over and the game in a healthy financial state. From what we've seen, it certainly deserves it, and it's the kind of game that should attract a loyal cult following.