Pirate Outlaws PS4 Review – All Hands On Deck

Take on rival pirates, with no navigating required. Just make sure you play your cards right in the excellent Pirate Outlaws. Out now on PS5.

Phew, March really is a tough month, but the tail-end has been good thanks to a handful of new games, notably Pirate Outlaws (from Fabled Game and BlitWorks), which, if I was keeping tabs over ‘game of the month’ and whatnot, it’d be in the top three. 

So, what is this bravado? It’s gotta be good if I’m saying that at the beginning of the review. Yes, plus a lot of you don’t like to read and are likely to skip to the bottom for a subjective score, so I’m letting you know now that this rogue-like deck-builder is sweeeeet.

Brainiacs will surmise that Pirate Outlaws is about pirates. Correct! Take a cookie. Shaped like a pirate. Indeed, you will sail the seas pinching booty and saying stereotypical slurs and all, but this ain’t Sid Meier’s Pirates! – you need to focus on your turn-based skills for battle.

Pirate Outlaws
Source: PR

Pirate Outlaws PS4 Review

As (I think) I mentioned in other rogue-like Ship of Fools, repetition is essential – you must want to play repeatedly. There has to be incremental gains; some hope that you are, perhaps, getting better or at least have a goal in sight. Fortunately, that all exists here, but the runs are reasonably paced and naturally, unlike the one that preceded it.

There are three main modes in Pirate Outlaws: Tavern Brawl – defeat a wave of enemies then take on the Tavern Keeper, Arena – a survival-based game where you have to fight wave after wave, and Navigate – our meat and potatoes. Let’s go with the latter, as that’s the one you are most likely to be playing first, as you have to unlock the others.

At the start of each run, you will select from a generous roster of characters (one to begin with – the others are unlocked through progression, i.e. your reputation levels), and then you decide from the world map which path you will take. Each map is procedurally generated; then, you use action points to reach the boss for that level.

Pirate Outlaws PS4 Review - World is your oyster
The world is your oyster. Source: PR

Your Turn, Me Hearty

Use all your action points, and you’ll eventually sink, but they can be replenished at taverns, and you can buy new cards and upgrades from the markets. If you brainiacs are still reading, you might also surmise that planning a path might be important – it is – as depending on your character, you might need to stock up on health or buy some relics to help with your fights.

Pirate Outlaws uses the familiar turn-based formula where you are dealt a hand and then use offensive, defensive and support strategies to reach the next round. Players are typically strong in melee or ranged attacks, while others rely upon luck or perhaps even buffs, a.k.a. the relics. More in a moment, as I’ve mentioned them twice.

You essentially will play your attacks and defend incoming attacks using the cards at your disposal, but you have to ensure you have enough ammo to use some of these. Ammo can be renewed automatically with your character choice, with the gear you’re using, or through some of the cards. If you run out, it’s not the end, as melee damage doesn’t use any ammo points.

Pirate Outlaws PS4 Review - Swordmaster
Swordmaster. Source: PR

Gentlemen’s Relics

Before I forget: relics. Relics are passive buffs you can earn or buy at the market and will give you extra health at the start of the round, improved attack power, new cards when you defeat an enemy and so on. For my first hour or so, I seldom used them, but as you gradually unlock new characters and their respective abilities, it becomes clear that relics are game changers.

Pirate Outlaws’ premise is to beat each area’s boss but expect to repeat the same chapter repeatedly. That might spell frustration, but I love playing this on repeat, getting slightly better and unlocking new gear or permanent discounts at the market. You will eventually beat the first map, but by then, you can unlock new, more challenging maps, plus the Tavern Brawl and Arena modes.

Verdict

Let’s sum this up, then. If you like plundering an area repeatedly, albeit with a fresh approach, Pirate Outlaws is for you. Consider the number of features, cards, relics and characters, and I guarantee you that this will keep you on the straight and narrow for some time to come. It’s very addictive, and I love it.