(Adapted from official Game Introduction by KOEI, last updated 7 April 2014)
Daikoukai Jidai V (大航海時代Ⅴ) is the fifth numbered installment of the Uncharted Waters series. It is a free-to-play browser game which comes after a fifteen year hiatus to the series –excluding the active nine year run of its online adaptations and expansions. So far, it can only be played under my GAMECITY, Facebook and NicoNico Douga platforms. This title's theme is to allow players to create "an ever-changing world".
The producer is Tomokazu Takeda. According to his commentary, development for this game started when a large portion of Online's player base wanted an open-ended single player setup to play online. Daikoukai Jidai V was made into a browser game to cater to these fans' needs and to provide easy accessibility to other players interested in Uncharted Waters. He clarifies that this is a return to the classic experience seen in other numbered titles and will not share too many similarities with Online.
While he admits that there is paid content available, Takeda stresses that it is only for players who wish to see certain aspects sooner. Paid content is never needed to play any segment of the vanilla game. He coins this model "free-to-win", as choosing to use paid content or not will never take away from whatever pace the player wishes for their playthrough.
The browser game began on March 18, but many users experienced problems downloading it. Developers tried four times to fix it, shutting down the game four times in a span of six hours and even shutting down the GAMECITY servers briefly during maintenance. Service began past midnight before developers decided to pull the plug to try to fix sluggish download speeds. The same problems occurred on the 19th so developers have decided to host an open beta between March 20~25th. A message from Takeda apologizing for the difficulties and thanking players for their patience was then posted onto my GAMECITY. Several items are promised for players who play during March as another apology for the wait.
A start up campaign for the first 33,333 players is being held from March 20~April 30, and three bonuses can be earned after completing the tutorial. They can receive the game currency equivalent to 300 yen, Alvero Sarmiento from Online fame –who appears as a rare sailor in the browser game and the ability to completely play Uncharted Waters free from the my GAMECITY Classic Games menu (a 500 yen price tag outside of campaign). Players who preregistered can receive Catalina Erantzo, one of the protagonists of the second Uncharted Waters, as a navigator for their crew.
The player is the protagonist and names their character. The protagonist's father is a respected cartographer named Ramon. He was lost at sea when the protagonist was a child, leaving behind a mysterious lapis lazuli as a memento. One day, the protagonist receives an invite from their childhood friend and sailor, Jupitor Fernandez, to become admiral. The protagonist joins their childhood friend, Nina, on the journey to search for Ramon and the pieces of the Philosopher's Stone. "Something good" is fabled to happen once the pieces of the artifact are assembled.
The game's controls are simple. Players simply use the left-mouse button to confirm their commands in the game's interface. Players can choose to mute the game's music by pressing the volume icon in their menu interface. Real-time timers are applied to select options in the game. The protagonist's energy is expended for most actions. Energy can be restored naturally by waiting for the real-time timer. Lost energy can be instantly restored through items. Gems (rare find/form of digital currency) can be used to instantly repair broken ships, summon stronger members and so on.
Daikoukai Jidai V discards much of the freedom seen in previous titles to present a role-playing and social game experience. Main story quests must be completed in order to unlock advanced content for the protagonist. Traveling uses the protagonist's energy, and traveling times for these missions will increase at higher levels.
Lisbon is the starting point. The player can sail around Portugal at their discretion, but they cannot see unlock more of the world map until they complete the main story. The world map is collected piece by piece, and each map piece alters the shape of their respective continent. For instance, the player can discover Dublin on Northern Continent-2 piece, but they won't be able to see other capitals around the same vicinity until they change it to Northern Continent-1. A lapis lazuli, a quest item often found in story related locations, is the cost for changing sections of the world map. Europe, Asia Minor and Africa are the places which can be discovered so far.
Quests, such as deliveries or pirate subjugations, can be taken outside of the main story. One quest can be taken at a time, and they often come with a real-time limit for successful completion. An explanation point will hover over the Quest icon in the town menu if the player is needed to report a completed quest. Random daily quests can also be accepted at the same time. Quests reward gold, economical goods and/or Navigation Points (NP). Continental allegiances are present within this title. If the player accepts inquiries to shoot down ships from a rival country, their relations will suffer. When they reach abysmal levels, the protagonist will need to haggle their way onto the docks of an unfriendly country by selecting a list. Either option uses 10 energy to perform. Unfriendly names will be marked pink on the world map.
Pubs are a sub-tab under the Quest option in town. Visit the barkeep to learn tips about trade or global relations between countries. Capitals will have a waitress who can be befriended by the protagonist. Relations can be built by telling her about discoveries and chatting with her. If she likes the protagonist enough, she will give helpful tips. Each option costs 100 gold to complete. Avoiding her will lower their relation ratings with her, which can be checked with the barkeep.
Royalty can still be visited only by visiting the capital of each country (Lisbon, Paris, Toledo, London, Amsterdam). Players can report discoveries from exhibitions for fame and money. Each country has their preferences for their rewards; the higher the grade, the greater the payout. If the player is highly trusted by the country's royalty, the player can change their political affiliations and make recommendations to the country's policies. Occasional side quests can be accepted by regularly visiting a friendly country.
Fame can be earned by completing quests, trading or discovering new locations. It is treated like experience points in typical JRPGs to level up the protagonist. When the protagonist levels up, their energy and other depleted stats are restored to max with a small boost to their energy gauge capacity. The maximum level is 60.
Sailors can be obtained by either drawing them from NP, tickets or gems. Clicking on the card flips the portrait to reveal a brief biography about them. Rule of thumb is the same as most social games: the rarer the card, the better their stats. There are currently three rarity rankings: Normal, Rare and Super Rare. Historical figures and original characters from Eurasia and America can be presently obtained. The player can hold a maximum of fifty cards. The player can draw one card for free everyday.
Scouted characters are needed to command the player's fleet. Each character has stats which specialize in one of three attributes: Adventure (navigation), Battle, Commerce, and each ship assigns three slots for each trait. It's advised for players to use these slots for specialists only, although the player can still choose whoever they please. Select characters will have personal skills to further assist exploration, combat or trade.
Recruits do not impact the main plot and act as theatrical system messages. If the player desires to do so, they can unlock initiation conditions for a crew member's side quests. Initiation conditions and rewards vary on the individual; they are listed within the characters dictionary listing. Once the player activates them, the player can finish them at their own pace. Quitting the quest line means the player will need to restart them from scratch. Side quests offer character interactions and rewards independent of the main story. Completing them adds a special skill for the star character.
Characters can be strengthened by increasing their level. Experience is gained through fusing, or sacrificing unwanted cards to fuel the target. Cards can also be awakened once they reach maximum level and if the player possesses an exact duplicate. Awakening boosts the optimum parameters and extends the card's level count. Each card can be awakened two times, and the indicator for this trait is visually located on the portrait side of each card at the bottom right hand corner and by adding a plus mark after the card's rarity (i.e SR+). A card which has reached its maximum awakening boost gains the High (H) indicator in front of its rarity ranking (i.e HSR).
Ships can be repaired and modified at a town's shipyard. The player can repair damaged ships with gold, but they cannot be completely restored without gems. Morale is often affected by a ship's condition, so it's advised to keep the fleet in top shape for sailing.
Attributes for a ship are placed into simplified categories by sailing type, or whether they are best fitted for adventuring, combat or trade, and size. The larger the ship, the more storage and crew it can handle. Draw tickets from the ship roulette to obtain new parts and designs. Ship roulette is nearly the same as scouting except the NP option is removed. Tickets can be earned through giveaways and by completing quests; gems can be used for instant results. Each ship can alter three slots; one possible figurehead and two possible protective items/cannons can be equipped. Armaments cost 10 gold each to add or remove per ship.
When the protagonist is level 10 and completes the main story quests for that level, they gain another ship slot. This trend continues at ten level increments until level 60. If the player has befriended another player, they can rent their friend's main ship to assist their own fleet. Rentals can be used once per day, and they cannot be changed until twenty-four hours pass from their last decision.
The player can roughly chart their destination on the world map through a point and click path. The game will automatically calculate the necessary resources for reaching the location. Resources needed for traveling include:
- Energy - protagonist's meter. Includes an option within the departure menu to instantly refill with gems.
- Food - feeds the crew during journey (drinking water is omitted in this game). If they don't have food, there's a chance that morale will suffer and riots will occur. Refills can be purchased with gold within the departure menu if leaving from a town dock. Sailors stuck at sea can fish for food at the cost of 10 energy.
- Crew - nameless sailors needed to man the boat(s). Higher number increases overall ship efficiency and combat capabilities. Replacements can be purchased with gold within the departure menu if leaving from a town dock.
Manual sailing no longer exists since travel is automatic and shown through a montage. Player interaction occurs for irregularities such as colliding with debris or dealing with disease. The player is given a nine second time limit to choose their decision from a list of actions. Choosing correctly lessens the damage to their fleet. Skilled navigators can also spot shipwrecks and retrieve treasure. The manual version pops a sail icon at the bottom-right hand corner. Navigators will find more treasure if the player uses the rotation icons next to it to tip the mast and open the sails. If a city or excavation site is spotted during their predetermined route, the player can choose to dock or keep sailing along their path.
Excavation sites are a test for the adventurers. The player must first search for a digging site in the menu. When a site is found, the player must keep examining its surroundings to confirm the digging site. Progress meters and percentages determines when the adventurers can explore it. Every action to this point takes five energy per confirmation push, and the results for finding a site are randomized.
Digging is a mini-game which plays like Minesweeper. The screen shifts to a field of unturned stones. Click on a stone to try to find hidden treasure. Rocks may reveal pirates or nothing, but the rocks will start to glow green to hint the next treasure box. Any type of digging uses adventurer points which can be restored by gaining a level, waiting for its daily rejuvenation or by items. This is one of the best methods for obtaining lapis lazuli and gifts for waitresses.
Battle primarily takes place at sea. Like sailing, the fleets' movements are automatic. The player can manually choose the fleet's attack method or leave it to the AI and see the results. Victory is determined by sinking the greatest number of ships each fleet. Ships will sink if they completely lose their durability or crew.
There are two phases to each battle. The first is an automatic firing stage to gauge each side's capabilities; results cannot be altered and can only be adjusted by the quality of the ship and its crew. If both fleets survive the first phase, the player activates the second combat phase, a one-on-one fight with the main ships of each fleet. Each ship has one of the three properties:
- Long-ranged ⇒ less damage to ships, more damage to occupants ⇒ strong against mid, weak against close
- Mid-ranged ⇒ damage ships and occupants equally ⇒ strong against close, weak against long
- Close-ranged ⇒ more damage to ships, less damage to occupants ⇒ strong against long, weak against mid
During the second combat phase, the player is given nine seconds to change their attack attribute for their next attack, which is done by selecting the correct icon. The effectiveness of their attack is reliant on their fleet's attributes. Character skills can be used to bypass negative effects.
If the player is victorious their crew can salvage raw materials. Materials can be recycled to earn more ship designs or armaments. Occasionally, the player can earn enemy ship parts for their fleet. Losing will strand their fleet at sea. They can fish for food or sail back to the nearest port to recover lost crew or supplies.
Trading is similar to previous Uncharted Waters titles except items are automatically purchased and sold in bulk. Storage capacity for each ship and necessary calculations for each exchange are automatically specified for player convenience. Each country has their preferred goods for buying/selling, which can be checked with the barkeep in the town's tavern.
Once the protagonist reaches level 20, they unlock the option to invest in a city's trading facilities at the cost of 5 energy and 5,000 gold. To complete an investment, the player must select one of three numbered cards dealt to them to represent their interest (buying, selling, storage) for the trading port. Like the common rules of Blackjack, the goal is to be within 0~9 range with their investment with 9 being the optimum number. If the player wishes to increase their investment, they will need to gamble for another card. The player can choose to keep gambling or stop at any time. If the value of their cards surpasses 9, their investment busts.
Investing levels up a city's commerce level and unlocks new goods for purchase. Deals and other items appear more frequently with friendly markets. If the player continues to have the city in their favor, it may lead to an automatic political alliance with their faction.