Game Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War

Dan Goad Dan Goad
Expert Contributor
June 3rd, 2017

Dan is a contributor to ComiConverse. His interests mainly lie in video games, but he has previously written articles on film, television and other aspects of popular culture. He can be found on Twitter @dangoad

Price:
Limited

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On June 3, 2017
Last modified:June 3, 2017

Summary:

Pirates of Caribbean: Tides of War will give you a few days of basic gameplay, but will swiftly become boring unless you're willing to spend money. For fans of the film series it's worth checking out, for everyone else there are other games that are better at everything this one does.

Price:
Limited

Reviewed by:
Rating:

3
On June 3, 2017
Last modified:June 3, 2017

Summary:

Pirates of Caribbean: Tides of War will give you a few days of basic gameplay, but will swiftly become boring unless you're willing to spend money. For fans of the film series it's worth checking out, for everyone else there are other games that are better at everything this one does.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War attempts to cash-in on both the new film and the free-to-play market. Have Disney and developer JoyCity done enough to stand out in a crowded market? ComiConverse contributor Dan Goad takes to the high seas with this review.

Game Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War

Movie tie-ins have always had a mixed history, even more so now that developers have mainly decided to forgo AAA console games and offer free-to-play mobile titles instead. The mouthful that is Pirates of Caribbean: Tides of War is not the worst licensed game ever, but it’s by no means the best either. If you’re familiar with Joy-City’s work you’ll be familiar with this, which is essentially a re-skinned version of Oceans & Empires. Players take control of a pirate island, building and upgrading structures and ships. These ships can be used to raid other players’ islands for valuable resources.

pirate island

Your pirate island
Credit: Disney/JoyCity

A long-winded tutorial phase will guide you through all the mechanics of the game, but nothing was hugely well explained and I’d forgotten most of it by the time I was given the freedom to do as you please. The tutorial will tell you to build a particular structure, but will never tell you why you should build it or what it does. The end result is that once you can choose your own actions, you have no idea what you should or shouldn’t be prioritising. There are an awful lot of buttons here. After a few hours I had an inventory filled with items, and in many cases no idea what they did.

Even after the tutorial ends, there is still given a set of objectives to follow, generally consisting of building/upgrading a certain structure, hunting a certain sea creature or completing a story mission. It’s nice to have the option of either following these objectives or not, but it usually only takes a few minutes of tapping around at random before you reach an impasse and have to go back to the objectives.

The story missions are a fairly dull retread of the significant events of the PotC films, and virtually every mission consists of picking which of your ships you’ll send to defeat some other ships. In fact, that is pretty much all combat ever consists of. You pick an opponent, pick some ships, and wait. You usually don’t even watch the battle properly, just an overhead view of some ships firing guns (often in the wrong direction). Where the battle does consist of more than this, such as a closer view of the action, there is no indication as to whether you can have any input into what is happening.

The city building element of the game can be enjoyable, but similar things have been paired with much better batting systems in mobile games such as Medieval: Total War. And if you just want to build things then there are more rewarding building games available. As is common in these game you can join an alliance with other players, but there didn’t seem to be any events like a “pirate war” for the alliance to take part in, it was more of a resource sharing group.

Story continues below

We’re in free-to-play territory, so expect a generous helping of premium currency and items early on, then later on long waits and some of the most expensive in-app purchases I’ve ever seen. The most expensive comes in at an eye-watering $399.99, so don’t let your kids have free rein on this one.

On the plus side, graphically the game looks great and a lot of effort seems to have been put in to this side of it. The portraits of PotC characters look good and a number of the player avatars seem to have been inspired by characters in the Starz pirate series Black Sails. The pirate islands also have plenty of detail and have more life than a lot of mobile city builders.

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean, then you might get something out of this. There must be plenty of you out there, since the last (and, by most accounts, worst) film made over a billion dollars. But I’m not sure enough people really care. The fact the studio recently refused to pay money to hackers who were threatening to release the new film early indicates that not even they care. For anyone who is only mildly interested, you’ll get a few days of play out of it, but you’ll swiftly hit a point where it isn’t worth going back to if you don’t invest some money.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War

  • 3

Limited

Pirates of Caribbean: Tides of War will give you a few days of basic gameplay, but will swiftly become boring unless you're willing to spend money. For fans of the film series it's worth checking out, for everyone else there are other games that are better at everything this one does.

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