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Sandstorm: Pirate Wars - A fun apocalyptic pirate adventure slightly spoiled by F2P

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Sandstorm: Pirate Wars - A fun apocalyptic pirate adventure slightly spoiled by F2P

What's this? A Ubisoft pirate game?

I know what you're thinking, but this isn't Assassin's Creed Pirates - though the two games do share some similarities. For a start, the main heft of the game here, as in Pirates, is strategic ship battling.

The game is set in a dark post-apocalyptic future, and sees you building a flying pirate ship from scavenged parts.

You then travel the world taking on a variety of different main quest and tavern missions to earn bolts - the virtual currency - which you can spend on ship upgrades.

Wait, so there's a whole world to explore?

Kind of - though not with the same scope as Pirates. Instead of an open world, here you choose a location to travel to and then try and make it there safely.

On your way you'll encounter events. There are ruins to explore, civilians asking for help, and ships threatening to take you down, and it's up to you how you respond.

Certain responses will reward you with bolts while others will see you thrown into battle.

And how exactly does battling work?

So, your ship is equipped with a few different weapons. When in battle you simply select which cannon or laser blaster to attack with, and then pick the part of the enemy ship that you'd like to shoot.

You need energy to attack though and your ship only has a limited quantity. This recharges over time though, so once you've used a weapon or recharged a support item you only have to wait a few moments until you can do so again.

Typically you win the battle if you destroy all of the ship's weapons and support items but you can also win by depleting its HP.

What about the upgrade system?

As you win battle, you'll earn rewards like bolts, weapons, and support items.

The idea is to equip a ship with a variety of weapons for different situations. For example, certain weapons can shoot through shields while others do more damage.

It's the same for support systems as well. There are shields to block attacks and flares to send rockets safely away from your ship.

You can also repair your ship in cities and, if you have enough bolts, completely upgrade your ship. This lets you equip new weapons and support systems, as well as pushing up the health and energy of your ship.

So what's the verdict - is it worth checking out?

Absolutely - though your mileage with it will vary depending on how much you plan to spend. It's not the most forgiving free to play game in the world.

You could play the entire game without spending but the best weapons and support items come from the loot boxes which cost power cells.

Aside from that, the combat is suitably fun, strategic, and tense, and the world is a genuine joy to explore. There's a Fallout mixed with Pirates aesthetic here, and it really draws you in.

Also, the upgrade cycle is incredibly satisfying - you always feel like you're working hard to earn more bolts to upgrade your ship.

It's just a shame that the experience is all brought down by iffy monetisation methods.

Sandstorm: Pirate Wars - A fun apocalyptic pirate adventure slightly spoiled by F2P

Sandstorm: Pirate Wars features an excellent combat system, an intriguing world to explore, and a compulsive upgrade cycle. It's just a shame that the experience is brought down by poor F2P implementation.
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