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Uncharted Waters Online

Uncharted Waters Online review

 Genre: Free to play MMORPG

 Publisher: NetMarble

 Developer: KOEI Delfin


Uncharted Waters Online
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If you’ve been on the internet for any length of time – and if you’re reading this instead of visiting Facebook or something, there’s a good chance you’ve been on the internet long enough to realize there’s more to the whole thing than social media – you’ll probably have heard of Uncharted Waters Online.

Released in 2005 for much of the east, it only arrived in the west within the last few years. Despite that little fact, there have been advertisements for the game swimming (get it?) about for quite a while. The source on which the MMO is based, also called Uncharted Waters, is one of those great KOEI strategy games that, in the US especially, have in recent years been tossed aside in favour of Dynasty Warriors and its numerous spin-offs. That’s a real shame, as anybody who has ever played Romance of the Three Kingdoms can attest, Koei has made some fantastic strategy games. Uncharted Waters Online takes everything people loved about the single player and takes it online. Did they do it justice? Read on and find out in my Uncharted Waters Online review.

Uncharted Waters Online review Uncharted Waters Online

A Pirate’s Life for Me

If you want to score yourself a life on the high seas, things aren’t going to be too easy. That is to say if you like protection against viruses and the latest Windows operating system. After installing and downloading Uncharted Waters, took about an hour, and downloading the patch (all of about 3MBs, my sort of patch), I started the game up. As a note to people with bigger monitors and higher settings, you must upgrade graphical quality and resolution before you enter the game, using the settings menu in the pop-up. I logged in, watched the opening movie and accepted the user agreement. Then I was met with “please wait,” and had I paid any attention, I would still be waiting. Uncharted Waters Online doesn’t like Windows 7, nor does it like any of a number of anti-virus solutions. As a result, you need to run the game in XP compatibility mode and without your anti-virus if you want to play it without any problems, the biggest of all being blocked access to even starting the adventure.

Uncharted Waters Online review Uncharted Waters Online

Picking your Sailor

Creating a character is nice and easy. While there isn’t a huge amount of general editing to do, the vast difference between the base characters is fantastic. Firstly you choose your nationality; I went, rather originally, with English. There are a few others to choose from, although I can’t imagine the different to the long-term game would be great. From there you pick a body type. I’m not joking when I say you have the option to play as the absolute biggest male human character I’ve ever seen in an MMO, and the shortest human female I’ve ever seen. You can be tall and muscular, tall and fat, tall and thin, short and chubby; if there’s a combination of height and weight you feel represents you, you can probably pick to play that sort of character in Uncharted Water. From there, you can choose from a few faces and a few haircuts, nothing spectacular, but at least you find that not every character looks the same.

Seeing the Sea

And if you thought your gaming problems were over when you threw off the shackles of your anti-virus, you were dreadfully wrong. Within moments of playing the game, the floor and walls became animated. Sometimes (although not in this situation, I have to say) I would put this down to my graphics card overheating or other problem that’s not necessarily the fault of the developer. In this case, however, the animated walls looked conspicuously like the waves on a choppy ocean. Other than that, the graphics are rather good, looking something like some of the PS2 era RPGs, I’m not sure if Koei based the engine for this off the engine for a PS2 version of the game, but they’ve certainly managed to give that impression and, for long-time fans of the series, that’s a great idea.

Learning the Ropes

The opening scenes of Uncharted Waters Online are a little longwinded, but that’s because the gameplay itself is a little bit out of the ordinary. There’s the option to join an academy from which you can learn how to play, an option I selected to take up. They tend to go into great detail about every single little thing but, to be fair, there’s no other way they could have explained the unusual features that perhaps the average MMO player won’t have come across before. It’s a necessary evil, although still very much an evil. It’s here that you’ll get to grips with the world, what’s going on and who’s who in the world of Uncharted Waters Online. For the first time in an MMO, you’ll find that skipping what is being said to you will result in actual consequences and learning the ropes is far more complicated here than in the majority of other MMOs, in which controls and quests are specifically set up in a way that means people can play without concentrating too much.

Setting sail

You have the option of going along with the tutorial or just jumping straight into the water and sailing off (albeit without too much of a goal). I filled up on provisions – fresh water, timber – and hired myself a couple of experience sailors (that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write in an MMO review) and took to the high seas. Sailing is easy enough to get a grasp of, but is a little more complicated than, say, Star Trek Online’s star ship system. You’ll find yourself constantly checking you have enough food to last the rest of your journey, watching for feedback from your crew and keeping your eyes peeled for pirates. Soon your little starter boat will be sailing almost by itself and it looks pretty fantastic. There are obviously quests that you can take part in if you wish, but I enjoyed just generally sailing about for a while, listening to the music and enjoying seeing so many other people playing at the same time.

Uncharted Waters Online - UWO review


Perhaps this is the first time I’ve come across an unusual MMO with so many people in it. The main square in London was full to the brim of people chatting and enjoying one another’s company and adventuring out onto the ocean is similarly populated. I can only presume that other ports are as full as London, but it seems everywhere I look there are people having a good time. More than that though, there were people helping other players and more than a couple of times I’ve seen large groups of boats made up of multiple users sailing together.

Uncharted Waters Online review
The Conclusion

Uncharted Waters OnlineIn recent weeks I’ve found myself getting tired of the usual humdrum of the MMO genre. Taking quests, killing monsters and repeating until my eyes start to breath. That’s why I think I can say Uncharted Waters Online is one of my favourite MMOs ever, there is quite literally nothing else I’ve ever seen that is exactly like it. It’s a breath of fresh air and, this is the really funny thing, it’s five years old and it STILL feels fresher than many of the games I’ve played lately. If you want something different and can stand the overly involved tutorial (And more than occasional graphical glitch), I really can’t suggest Uncharted Waters Online enough.

Mat Growcott


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