Uncharted Waters Online


You know what? This game is eating up all the game time I had right now because it was that good. And this is all about boats… and adventures… and history… and exploring places that I shouldn’t go to. It’s like the game is calling me!

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the game I am currently playing on that eats up the rest of my time. This is Week 6 of MMO Shenanigans and this game has a pretty unique theme… for an online game, of course. This of this game as a mix of history and “Sid Meier’s Pirates!”, minus the negatively historically harsh aspects finally dipped in Koei’s historically inaccurate, yet famous, Awesome Sauce. This is Uncharted Waters Online. Arrrgh, mateys!

Uncharted Waters Online

Country of Origin: Japan/South Korea

Genre: Nautical Simulator MMORPG

Company of Origin: Koei, Netmarble

Playable Servers: Gpotato (Global)

Gameplay Status: Playing

Uncharted Waters (known in Japan as “Age of Discovery”) is one of Koei’s remaining and surviving titles that started it roots during its NES days, alongside “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” of the turn-based strategy genre and Nobunaga’s Ambition, its RTS equivalent. Uncharted Waters is a simulator that  takes you back in the 16th Century where you play as Leon, a Portuguese captain who ventures to territories with his trusty ship, discovering new territories, trading cargo, and fighting evil pirates that come for your shipment.

Of course, the sequel, Uncharted Waters: New Horizons had new characters that gives the players more variety as they level up the chosen characters’ careers in order to progress through story modes. Though due to poor sales in the West (one of the reasons involves the rising popularity of Sid Meier’s Pirates), Uncharted Waters’ sequels and ports were only released in Japan and around East Asia and gained a strong cult following from it.

Cut to about a decade or so later where we Westerners rediscovered and revived the Uncharted Waters franchise in our English-speaking countries in the form of the spin-off MMORPG by Netmarble, a Free MMO distributor from South Korea, and servers by GPotato (The MMO server company behind Aika, Global FlyFF, and Global Luna)

In Uncharted Waters Online, you are a character residing in one of the six starting empires: Portugal, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, England, and France. Throughout the early parts of the game you get to enroll in an academy that teaches you one of the three paths that can be your career throughout the entire game (Though I do advice to you players to play through all three courses and just favor one of the three that suits your playstyle):

  •  Adventurer: A curious class where you venture through unknown territory and find treasures and discoveries in the process. This class is pretty fun if you like… well… adventure! My character is recently in the Adventurer’s class, since let’s face it, I love me a Flapjack/Adventure Time reference sewn into it.
  • Merchant: A class that involves trading items to other parts of the world. Really good class if you are into getting money easily. This path features the supply and demand ideal of economics where trades from farther cities sell more than selling in cities nearby. The golden rule of trading in this game? If the target town already has the thing your carrying, don’t sell it.
  • Maritime: The Navy/Marine-type class where you specialize in battling enemy ships in hostile waters. If you guys are into combats and the PvP aspects of the MMO, this is a good class to specialize in.
Each path has its own perks and advantages in order to gain rank, experience, and fame in their game. Adventurers take this the form of Maps and Discoveries where you can make money by finding and reporting good finds to the many NPCs scattered across the world. Merchants have Crafting and Investments where they can be given specialized goods by the means of a strong contribution to the city, and Maritime by the means of fighting for and/or against ships, choosing his fate as either an ally or a pirate.
So throughout my… (how many weeks have I been in this game?) many weeks of nothing but playing this game, (I should have reviewed Zelda as well! And there are some good new MMORPG’s and I think I wanna start checking out on Pottermore), here are my
ups and downs about playing this game.
Yes, I sacrificed myself from going to the Watered-down Water Temple to fight a buncha guys in the water.

 

THE BAD STUFF:

1. This game is a lot more complicated that it leads on. (Even if it makes the game challenging in a good way.)

Oh yeah, and this game is 32 flavors of complicated.

Your lifeline is your ship. Without it, you won’t go through places and do your business. Most of the game will involve you sailing your boat and checking the wind currents and waves so that your ship can move faster. To move your boat, you hire sailors and buy food, water, lumber, and cannon ammunition for the long voyage ahead. The voyage can be really rough so you buy things from the item shops in order to prevent real disasters from happening. It’s also mandatory to obtain skills so that your trips won’t cost a lot of money and items, and that you need to use your vigor (stamina) in order to use such skills. Restoring Stamina can be used by the help of buying food from the tavern, or eating at one.

In order to get skills, you have to pay money and find the right guild or person who will gladly teach you some skills. If you want to get money you either get some as rewards from quests, sell items that you don’t need, or get them from enemy ships.

Going to country to country is one thing if you reside in Europe. Going outside Europe sea territory however involves hostile waters, in other words, enemy ships roam free (or near the coastline) and will destroy you in the middle of a specialized trade/adventure/mission to other countries. There will be times where certain parts of the sea will turn to safe waters, but it’s pretty limited and lasts about a week in real time. Also, watch out for unexpected storms, sharks, and krakens while you spend time doing something important.

Oh, did you get all of this? Because this only above covers about 5-10% of the contents of the game. The rest would take me forever to type!

2. Voyages are really long.

Doesn’t it suck that you spent an hour voyaging from Europe to Asia (in the fastest boat possible) just to get spices and returning back to Europe at the same time (if you can survive starvation, mutiny, invasions and random chaotic shenanigans that can only be saved by an active eye… or dolphins?)

Yeah.

Artist’s Rendition of 3 Hours worth of voyaging just to go on a Spice Trade to and from Asia… and realizing that her ship was on fire after a dinner break.

In this world: One in-game day is one minute. And voyages from place to place takes about (in shortest) 2-3 minutes. So if you want to go all around the world and back in one piece, learn how to be patient and when things happen, let’s hope people will help you along the way. Best way to go to long voyages at sea is by fleets and by a company with players who have different skills.

3. An Incredibly Long Tutorial Mode.

The tutorials are in the form of schools where you learn about the magical world of sea exploration and yes, there is a lot to learn about Adventuring, Trading, and Fighting. And in order to actually succeed in the game, you must have to go through all 3 courses because that will ensure easy fame and easy money before going through the really hard parts of the game.

Though the school levels you’ll be going through in the game? Three. One for basic, one for intermediate, and one for advanced and each of the schools you’ll be going to will include a graduation test in order to progress to the next level, and you know it takes grinding and continuous voyages around Europe so that you can level up your preferred skills and whatnot.

And after all that, I just graduated one course. ONE. So having two more courses and three levels can take a long time. A REALLY long time. Also, even if you are incredibly experienced with this game, you will still go through another long voyage of tutorial mode when you make a new character.

Advice from me: stick to one character.

4. The incredibly cheap ambushes are the most annoying problems you will ever face in this game.

Okay, so you are sailing along the sea with your teeny tiny boat, with a ship full of goodies and chocked full of hopes of getting to your destination before your supplies ran out. Then a pirate fleet with ships bigger and stronger than your own little boat just pulverizes you, leaving you with almost half of your rations, your money and cargo and the boots on your feet stolen, and if the ship actually pulls off a critical damage to your little baby ship and you don’t have the life preservers nor the Rescue Skill…

… Congratulations, you are derped. HARD.

A Cautionary Tale to all the new players… get an awesomer ship.

5. Other Bad Stuff such as:

  • Some translations are pretty inaccurate to the point of misleading.
  • No Gender differencess in Country-unique Storylines. In other words, female players of this game will automatically be preferred as male. You also tend to flirt with female barmaids as female…. Wait.
  • Only one in-game universal currency: Ducats. And Ducats haven’t been recognized until the 19th Century.

THE GOOD STUFF:

1. It’s challenging and unique.

I think I had this reason why I was so in love with this game: It’s this unusually different from all the other MMORPGS that I ended up enjoying it more than I should. It’s that feeling of going to new places and exploring through new territories that can thrill someone so.  Maybe it’s the fact that it looks like it’s one of…

No…

DANGIT!

Alright! I should have played those other games in order to make this an official MMO Shenanigans segment, but let’s face it, I am a sucker for Koei and I believed they started the entire nautical MMO idea first. But you get my drift.

The controls are easy to get, but really difficult to master. First time I tried to go on a voyage, I spent to much time finding a way to actually learn the directions of the ship, only to realize that I need to doucle click on where to go and let the waves take me to auto-sailing mode. Still, it’s a step up from manual level-ups and 02Jam.

2. So Many Paths to Choose… so Many Things to Do!

Each country has a unique storyline that alters whenever you are in a different country of origin. I think the France Event quests involve a handsome (Zhou Yu-esque) art dealer/revolutionary fighting against a tyannic countess. Or something in that ranks. But it does raise your fame points. I personally am now in the Ship Battles part of the event, but my boat is too inadequate to defeat a fleet.

Aside from choosing your preferred course in one game, each course has their own set of professions which favor different skills which can be leveled up a lot easier, which can be a big advantage to strengthening some of the more useful skills in the game. Take being a fisherman as your profession, where the chosen skills by that profession will be automatically unlocked in every Adventurer’s guild, while an expert skill (fishing) will be the one where your skills can be leveled up the most in your quests.

The much harder professions will take the form of quests from faraway guilds, where completing that quest will give you a slip and a change to change to more interesting professions. Personally, I want to be a Folklorist. Or an Artist.

Speaking of which, you go on quests. It’s more likely the quests that fits your choice of skill levels and your overall character level. Though I personally hate getting Quest Meditation Permits as rewards, when I can just go to another country to get new quests. XD But they are pretty useful.

 

3. This game has incredibly beautiful music.

The in-game music was inspired from the music from the first and second Uncharted Waters games, which both the old games’ music were composed by the famous Yoko Kanno. It does have a lot of cultural flavor in each of the tracks, from the accordions in Marseilles, the Guitars from Lisbon, and the regal feel from London among many others. Though I want a more epic Pirates of the Carribean-like music for the voyage music instead of a waltz.

But it did have a really solid music soundtrack. Especially when you start battles with other ships.

4. Countries are pretty accurate… for a Koei game.

Although this is from Koei, a company famous for them over-exaggerating history in order to make the game interesting, this game at least got their country interpretations almost right. You do have to enter into different countries with a language skill (body or spoken) and a level of disguise in order to enter the country and do whatever you feel is necessary.

Also, you might find some of the important landmarks when you enter a cetain location. Yes, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is in Pisa, and there is a sight of some Greek ruins in Athens, you get the deal. Glad Koei really does make the in-game graphics more lovely for recommended graphics that can be accessed to most computers (including some old laptops) Some Historical figures take the form of NPCs where you can report discoveries to.

And what Koei game can’t be complete without a Sengoku reference. Sadly, I have yet to see an Oda Nobunaga NPC.

Though I will remove some points from adding Sirens, Krakens (I don’t care if it’s just a rumor!), and Ghost Ships.

5. Other Good stuff includes:

  • This game has a pretty nice way of helping newcomers of the game by the means of a School Chat system. Also, it’s never too late to join a company and receive help from experienced players of the game! I got my own epic boat with the help of a really good friend there~
  • Tarot Cards as Buffers/Debuffers. Why not, right?
  • I think I just saw Amalia from Kessen 3 as a Cameo somewhere…
  • Dolphins!
Yaaaay, now this voyage is getting sweet~

FINAL VERDICT:
This game is a treat for those who love those challenging and daring MMORPGs out there. It’s long and winding, yes, but it teaches us how to be great sailors and have lots of patience and a good eye, because right now it’s giving me a headache looking at my ship all the time! But when you go to your destination, it’s like going to another world.
And this game is like going to another, fully-featured, time wastingly epic world. Only with boats.
Sadly, I am hoping myself that Nobunaga’s Ambition Online will be Localized in the west. I mean, COME ON! Squaresoft’s Active Time Battle Engine ala Final Fantasy!

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