I really want to somehow express why I enjoy this game, but I can’t. I can’t because of the way this sort of game is. It takes you, gives you simple tasks to do, and provides rewards for achieving them. It also rewards you just for playing the game – any sailing will give you XP. If you make money by trading, you get XP. If you battle, you get XP. Let’s not talk about battling yet though.
In Uncharted Waters, you sail around in a ship. You buy goods and sell them at different ports. With the right skills, you can buy MORE goods and sell them at different ports. With other skills, you can process these goods into other things which you then sell at the SAME port, or perhaps a different port if you’re feeling adventurous.
Now, while you’re doing that, you also have a storyline you’re following that is specific to your country, and also you can take quests from the guild master. These give you the proverbial “something to do” and provide fame, which is really important.
There are three categories of quests, and those categories encompass all sorts of things. Right now I’m working on Adventure quests, which have everything from getting some fish, gathering rocks, berries, etc., to discovering artifacts, to setting up new trade routes (sailing to a place and back within a time limit), delivering letters, etc. Merchant quests were more along the lines of delivering certain trade goods to certain people, or finding out the specialties of certain locations. Maritime quests are about battling things, I assume.
The quests are not difficult – if you’re stuck you can go to a tavern and get a hint. If you’re a merchant, you might just talk to the market keeper.
There are land quests, as well, where you have to wander out into an area with enemies that you could battle. I don’t like the battles, but there’s nothing wrong with them except me getting my butt kicked repeatedly. The penalties for losing are not that bad, and escape is usually pretty easy if that’s the way you want to go.
As with every MMO, what really keeps you coming back is the people you meet. Beginners have ‘School Chat’ which allows them to talk to other students, receive helpful hints from those who have gone before, and make friends. Of course, the major draw for people will always be guilds, and Uncharted Waters has them, but named Companies.
I am in a Company. Companies have a couple things to them. One, they have their own chat channel. Secondly, they have the ability to start a ‘store’ where you can sell goods to anyone in the game, or to your own guild mates, and then collect the money for it without having to set up a stand (which you can do too). Thirdly, Companies can found colonies. Colonies grow and create a new market for trade goods, while also providing a place to buy goods as well. It can serve as a sort of home base for the Company, although sailing to and from it can be very difficult for newer players who have never been to the new world. So far, I haven’t gone yet, but I hear it’s really cool.
The point is, the game has everything you’d look for from an MMO, but with an extra twist of the adventuring and the trading side. You gain experience for those things, not just from battling. In fact, battling does not give you any adventure or trade experience. They are separated, so that people can specialize. I believe this focus on economy instead of killing is what really separates Uncharted Waters from other MMOs that I’ve played.
In short, I plan to continue ‘working’ at this game. It really is a sort of relaxing work, with positive reinforcement constantly coming in. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. I’m sure I’ll get tired of it eventually, but being part of the group, working on skills, working on the story line, there is always something to do, and you get the choose which thing you’ll be doing.