Pirate101 has all sails set on taking families for a wild ride this fall

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It seems as if when Wizard101 maker KingsIsle Entertainment set out to craft an MMO all about pirates, it didn't let one detail slip through the cracks. After some time in the upcoming family MMO's closed beta, it's easy to imagine its creators sitting in a theater room, watching the best pirate movies ever and taking copious notes. But what's even more important is what likely came after.

While KingsIsle Entertainment clearly took notes from the greats--Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean series or Peter Pan--it also took great pains to make Pirate101 feel very much like its own contained world, but a part of the greater Wizard101 universe. The game is filled with nods to remind the player that, "Hey, this is still a fantasy world, you know." Pirate ships don't sail across oceans. They sail through the air in magical wind lines. Muskets don't fire bullets. They fire bursts of electric energy.
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Pirate101 has all sails set on taking families for a wild ride this fall
Almost everything about Pirate101 seems intent on making players feel not only as cool (and smart) as possible, but making them feel like they're part of a world that's both familiar and fantastical. But getting back to those feelings of "cool" and "smart": The combat system in Pirate101 is one of the most inventive seen in MMOs in a long time. In short, it's a turn-based affair set on grids that take shape around wherever players run into their enemies. (That last part happens in real time.)

When players run into, say, a group of swashbuckling sharks, everyone takes their places on the grid. This gives players time to set up their strategies, but it also gives surrounding players a chance to help out. At any point during a battle, your fellow pirates can join in on the fun and take their own turns. Players are given 30 seconds to make moves for all of their characters (more on that later). Then, each move is executed on the grid.
Pirate101 screens
But whenever a unit attacks another, the grid fades away and the camera zooms to get, at times, a seriously bad ass shot of the action. For instance, whenever a unit lands a critical hit, you'll know by the glitzy flourish added to their attack much like the choreographed scenes behind any good pirate flick. Of course, players receive special attacks based on their class of choice, and companions do as well as they level up beside your character.

That's right: During your adventures as a pirate escaping the clutches of the mysterious, evil "Deacon", you'll meet non-player characters that will join you on your journey. These characters are two-fold: Not only do they give you a fighting chance in the various battles of Pirate101 (which are largely comprised of multiple enemies), they help provide at least a small sense of camaraderie even when your friends aren't around to join in on your magical piracy.
Pirate101 screen shots
One could talk about all of the features Pirate101 has to offer across thousands of words, Simply put, it already seems as if KingsIsle has gotten a lot right when it comes to its second MMO. Comforting security features like predetermined player names and clever chat workarounds aside, this simply feels like a world that kids (and likely even quite a few adults) could get lost in between the sailing, the fighting, the chuckle-worthy dialog with full voice work and more. Pirate101 is set to launch for Windows in a free-to-play format this year.

What's most interesting about this new MMO to you? Do you have any tips for your fellow pirates? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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