Pirates of Black Cove Review for PC

Pirates of Black Cove Review for PC

Don’t Be a Landlubber

Pirates seem like such an obvious fit for video games. They sail the seas in search of treasure and adventure, get into epic swordfights, battle mythological creatures, and rank in popularity somewhere between robots and ninjas. It’s strange then, that, with the possible exception of LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, there simply haven’t been any good pirate games released lately. Nitro Games hopes to change this with their most recent title, Pirates of Black Cove.

Pirates of Black Cove can be separated into two sections: land and sea. Each section operates fairly differently than the other. While on land you will hire and command a band of pirates. You can select your troops and move them by right clicking, as is pretty standard in RTS games. Some villages you visit are friendly, allowing you to upgrade your troops and ship, craft items, and pick up quests. Other villages, on the other hand, don’t care much for pirates and will shoot (or swing a sword) on sight. If your troops are running low on health, you can fix them up with a quick shot of pirate booze called grog. However, if you use too much grog in too short a time, your pirates will get drunk and stagger about. Sometimes they’ll even pass out, which can be an enormous inconvenience in the heat of battle.

Pirates of Black Cove Screenshot

While at sea, you pilot a single ship. You can right click to move if you’d like, but it’s far more effective to use the A and D keys to steer while speeding up with W and slowing down with S. You can fire your cannons by either clicking the direction you want to shoot or pushing Q or E, depending on which side you want to fire from. Spacebar fires your special weapon, which you will get to select and upgrade as the game goes on.

And this is where the game gets interesting. Sea battles are an absolute perfect fit for the RTS-style gameplay, since this type of combat requires a lot of strategy. Since all of your firepower is on the sides of your ship, your enemy must be beside you in order for you to do any damage. This becomes quite problematic when you have two ships trying to fire upon one another. You’ll want to try to pull up alongside your opponent without your opponent pulling up alongside you. You’ll need to anticipate your opponent’s moves carefully or you’ll end up being bombarded by cannonballs.

Pirates of Black Cove Screenshot

Sea battles are perhaps the most enjoyable part of the game, and there is certainly no shortage of these. Some missions will require you to chase down your enemies’ ships and send them to Davy Jones’ Locker. And since you’re a pirate, you have no regard for the law. If you want to chase down a trade ship and steal its cargo, you can do that. In fact, if you see a ship in the game, you can attack it. Just prepare for retaliation. Not all the ships you find will be alone and helpless.

If you get tired of sinking enemy vessels and trade ships, there are several hidden items scattered across the Caribbean for you to scavenge. You’ll find sunken ships, which contain blueprints. If you collect enough blueprints, you can upgrade your ship or even purchase better ships. Also, you’ll find items like Duckweed and octopus eyeballs (I’m not making this up) that you can use to craft potions. There are even messages in bottles scattered about that contain incredibly bad pirate jokes. (For example: Where can you find a pirate who has lost both his peg legs? Right where you left him.) There are 1,000 joke bottles to find in the game, so completionists will be able to spend hours upon hours scouring the less-traveled portions of the map.

You will spend a gigantic portion of the game at sea, meaning you’ll be looking at a lot of water. Thankfully, the water effects in the game are outstanding. The visuals on land aren’t quite as impressive, but they still work. The game has sort of a cartoony vibe to it. The loading screens have a gorgeously hand-painted style, displaying humorous images of pirates doing piratical things, like firing upon enemy ships or staggering out of a pub.

Pirates of Black Cove Screenshot

However, this is something that is a little confusing. I’m not sure who the target demographic is for this game. It has a cartoony visual style and really bad elementary school pirate jokes, yet it definitely has earned its T rating. The game doesn’t bat an eye when transitioning from juvenile humor to dirty jokes and drug references.

The voice acting is also confusing. It’s hard to tell if it’s intentionally campy or if it’s just bad. If it’s intentionally campy, the actors did brilliant work here making their characters sound like pirate stereotypes who are a bit self conscious about being pirate stereotypes so they dial it down a notch to the point where it’s laughable. Other characters are so over-the-top you’ll have trouble keeping a straight face. However, if these actors are giving their best shots at star-making performances, perhaps they should look for another line of work. But that’s the thing; you can’t tell if it’s intentionally corny or not. You don’t know whether you’re supposed to laugh out loud or cringe.

Pirates of Black Cove has a few technical difficulties. For example, the A.I. pathing could have used some more refinement. I had one instance where I was supposed to track one of the fastest ships in the area. Once I found it, it promptly got itself hung up on a rock where I was able to mercilessly pound it with a nonstop rain of cannonballs. This type of scenario is rare while at sea, since the area you’ll be traveling is so open, but it gets to be more of a problem on land where you’ll have to escort a group of pirates around densely packed landscapes. In fact, I once had several troops get hung up on a signpost just yards away from our ship. Thankfully, I was able to have my hero get onboard the ship to reset my troops’ locations. This problem can get even worse when your pirates have had too much grog and are staggering about.

Pirates of Black Cove Screenshot

But you won’t have a lot of time to worry about it before you get back out on the open water with the itch to open fire on some more trade ships. I’m astounded at how much time I spent chasing down and sinking ships just to steal a few pieces of eight here and some good old-fashioned grog there.

Pirates of Black Cove makes a few missteps, but it excels in the most important area: the sea battles. Sure, there’s a story, and sure, there are several collectibles to hunt down. But at the end of the day, this game is all about battling it out on the open sea. Pirates of Black Cove provides some of the most satisfying tactical nautical combat I’ve experienced in any game, and that more than makes up for anything it doesn’t get one hundred percent correct.

The bottom line: If you love pirates and are craving a taste of RTS-type sea battles, Pirates of Black Cove may very well be your best option, if not your only option. And since there’s a free gameplay demo available, there’s really no reason to not hop onboard for at least a test drive.

The land portions have a cartoony look, but the water effects are gorgeous. And the beautiful loading screens bring the whole ensemble together. 3.5 Control
Pretty standard RTS controls that aren’t as responsive on land as they could be. A.I. pathing needs work too. 2.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voice acting is either really bad or hilariously campy. You decide. 4.5 Play Value
An enormous world filled with missions to tackle, secrets to uncover, and ships to sink. Add that to the fact that sea battles are incredibly addictive and you have quite a package. 3.9 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Roam the open world with your pirate crew and seek out and complete missions.
  • Select your character from several different Pirate Captains, each with their unique skills and features!
  • Battle it out with Pirates of Black Cove and European colonists on both Land and Sea.
  • Discover the non-spoken myths of the Caribbean.
  • Gain experience and Fame and Become the King of All Pirates!

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