Pirates of the Black Cove

At GDC, the team at Nitro Games showed us Pirates of the Black Cove. A real-time strategy game with a pirate twist, Pirates of the Black Cove is a tongue-in-cheek representation of the best of pirating. There’s no scurvy here.

It’s the 16th century, and pirates rule the seas. Three major factions control the regions of the world, and it’s the player’s job, as an upstart pirate, to man up and unite these different factions so they can take on a larger threat: the pirates of the Black Cove.

Gameplay breaks up into two different areas. First, players directly control their pirate as they complete missions on islands and in towns. The game plays like any traditional RTS, with the player directing their pirate to attack enemy units. What separates Pirates of the Black Cove from other limited-unit RTS games is that the player can only have 4 leading units, the one player character and one representative from each pirate faction. Underneath each pirate leader is three other units, which are often specific to that faction, meaning only twelve units can ever be controlled at one time, and that’s only after the player has convinced those pirate factions to join them.

There are also ship missions. Players can upgrade and modify their pirate ships for better speed, defense, damage, and special attacks. Out on the open seas, players have to take out rival ships, and while the early ships are very pitiful against the opposition, players will be zipping around with no problem by game’s end, using interesting abilities as homing cannons or a human catapult to capture other ships and make them yours.

This is, of course, a single-player game. Clocking in at 8-10 hours, it’s not the longest game around, but with some character customization, a strong pirate feel (including krakens and mermaids to keep the experience fun), and an easily understood gameplay focus, Pirates of the Black Cove could be a nice way to cure that summer boredom.