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Kartuga Impressions: InnoGames’ Free-To-Play Pirate Action MMO (We have beta codes to give away!)

InnoGames showed up at the Game Developers Conference with a purpose, to discuss their future plans for the free-to-play gaming model, and the importance of maintaining a quality in their games that most free-to-play games tend to lack. They were also there to show off the closed-beta of Ticking Bomb Games’ Kartuga, an action MMO browser game that allows players to battle with pirate ships over some dangerous waters.

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I was lucky enough to attend a private hands-on session with Kartuga just outside of GDC in San Francisco where I was introduced to the game’s two PvP modes, Domination (straight up team deathmatch) and Destruction (two teams, one bomb). Aside from versus play, I also joined the closed beta on my own time and tried out the quest mode that is designed to help you learn the ropes of the game, follow the storyline, and gain levels to build upon your ship, weapons, and crew.

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Kartuga is a massive multiplayer online game that takes you to the sea for some player versus player pirate ship action. Playing from an overhead view, players set sail in one of over 20 different ships (with plans to have 40 in the future), battling other ships to gain experience, level up, collect treasures and upgrade weapons, skills, and more.

Powered by Unity 3D, the game is ready to go in seconds right from your web browser, offering high quality 3D graphics that you would normally expect from a downloadable or retail game. Seriously, the visuals are beautiful and very scenic. Control is simple and the menu navigation is right at home for MMO players, notably World of Warcraft veterans.

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You get to choose from one of three classes: destroyer, protector, and engineer. Each has its own skills that set it apart from the others. The destroyer is the strong attacker, the protector is the defender ship, and the engineer can buff and heal teammates. Each class type has its own skill tree to assign skill points, allowing players to have unique fighter in their own right, in a game the heavily emphasizes the use of strategy, and it does it well.

The quest mode is quite engaging, believe it or not, allowing you to take in the scenery as you sail out to collect treasure, fight enemies, and join up with other real-life players roaming the world. With over 9 large maps available to sail in, separated into three different ares: Mayan, Mediterranean, and Orient themes; Kartuga promises a unique and lasting experience like no other.

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What makes Kartuga so exciting is that anybody can hop on and play right now for free and have one heck of a time, provided they have a code allowing access into the beta. Stay tuned, we have codes to give out, so read on. There are, of course, micro-transactions, as pretty much all free-to-play games have, but they don’t limit what you can do in the game, rather they enhance your experience or allow you to accept some perks, such as being able to instantly transport yourself from one side of the world to the other without having to spend minutes of your life sailing the sea and risking death.

I had a blast in my first play-through, and I am still having fun at home with the beta. The PvP modes are great, and at this time there are only two, but I hope we can see more added into the game later. It’s fun working together with a team in a 4-vs-4 match, just killing people in straight-up Domination, but I had a lot more fun in Destruction, where both teams fight to plant a bomb in their enemy’s base. The control is very simple, using the “WASD” keys to sail and the mouse to aim at ships that are in your range from the sides. You can also shoot from the bow of the ship with a harpoon gun, allowing you to temporarily slow down your enemy. The amount of ammo types and special skills you can use against enemies is very deep. This is definitely an MMO. The menu systems are detailed and there is plenty you can do to customize your ship and crew.

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Kartuga is showing a lot of promise, and rather than go on about how great it is now and what I hope the future will bring for it, I’m going to go play and I hope you all will be interested in joining me. InnoGames is going at it with a steady focus on bringing gamers the best game of its kind with Kartuga, so they’re taking an “it’ll be ready when it’s ready” approach, and I fully support that attitude. In speaking with InnoGames, I could tell that they are very proud of this game, and they should be. It may be a simple idea and it may be something you might have seen before, but they are doing a wonderful job with the concept. If it wasn’t free-to-play, I would most likely buy it.

I’m excited to see the product when it’s finished and we will have a full review ready when that time comes. Summer 2013 is a good estimated guess on its release date, however, nothing has been set in stone yet. Check out Kartuga.com for more details, and be sure to check out the Addict of Fiction Facebook page for codes to the closed-beta.

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