Uncharted Waters 2: New Horizons is the sequel to the original Uncharted Waters game. The game involves sailing and trading around the world in the in 16th-century as the captain of a ship or fleet of ships. Although mostly popular in Asia, the game was released on the SNES, PC, Playstation and Genesis systems.
There are six playable characters in New Horizons:
Son of the Portugese nobleman Leon, who seeks to follow the family tradition of exploration. The task given to him by his father is to find the lost city of Atlantis.
Spanish naval officer who turns to a life of piracy. She seeks to uncover the truth about who is responsible for the deaths of her brother and her fiancé.
Fights for the glory of England as a commissioned privateer. Aims to hamper the efforts of Spain in Europe and defeat the Spanish fleet.
Ernst von Bohr
Dutch cartographer, who receives a mission from his friend, the cartographer Mercator, to create a map of the entire world.
Italian adventurer who inherited his father’s debt. Travels the globe to find treasure and somehow repay the debts.
Merchant from Turkey. Coming from meager beginnings, he seeks fortune though trade as he searches for his lost sister, Sapha.
Although open ended, New Horizons does have specific story lines based on the character the player choses to play as. The different characters start out in locations based on their nationality, with different skills and equipment, as well as different crew. For example, if the player decides to play as Joao Franco, they begin collecting crew and buying trade goods. They also get a first mate, a friend of Joao’s father, as well as a ship bookkeeper who wants Joao to find a distant land in the east in return for his services. These extra characters are unique to Joao Franco’s game story, and each of the other characters will have similar encounters with unique characters.
The people the player meets along the way become great assets as they add valuable skills to the expedition. Continuing with the previous example, a skilled bookkeeper will be able to help the player character determine if the prices of goods are too high, as well as where to find bargain prices for certain goods. This leads to a large part of the game, at least for some of the characters in the game: trade.
As the player character travels though the plethora of ports that can be found in the game, they will discover trading posts that sells local goods. The player can buy and sell as much as they want as long as they have enough room in the cargo holds of their ships, and enough gold. The cargo hold is also used to store food and water for the crew of the fleet, so this is a major balancing act that must be carefully contemplated. Every port has a specialty item that can be purchased at a reduced price. Some ports are controlled by a particular regime, e.g. the Ottoman Empire or Kingdom of England. This will lead to taxation of every transaction, unless the player has a tax exemption document from the leader of that particular faction.
Sailing is a major part of this game and the player will spend much of their time on the world’s perilous oceans. Once the player has built up a capable fleet, they can begin travelling across these oceans, discovering new lands, creatures, and exotic landmarks. These discoveries will impact the game depending on the character and the nature of the discovery. Some discoveries will harm the crew and some will bring them great fortune. As mentioned earlier, the major concern when travelling is the amount of food and fresh water the player has with them. Given enough food the player’s fleet can travel for weeks, although they may not always get as far as they would like due to storms and pirates. Depending on the season, certain oceans are dangerous to fare though, and can even be deadly if the player’s ships are too far from shore and unable to make an emergency landing.
Piracy is another aspect to the game where the player can either be the aggressor or the victim. Certain ship types can be loaded with cannons, and can take down enemy ships. Duel the captain of another fleet and the player may take over some of their ships or goods. Swords and armor becomes important factors during duels, and can be acquired at the different ports for a price. Missions can be aquired from guild quarters in some of the larger ports. These missions can either consist of finding a port, finding an exotic animal, or defeat a notorious pirate. When playing as a non-pirate being attacked by pirates can be very dangerous, depending on the crew delegation the player has decided on. The player can decide what percentage of their crew is tasked with navigation, lookout and combat. Set Navigation to 0%, and get nowhere, set Lookout to 0% and see only things directly next to the fleet. This is another element that must be balanced depending on the type of game the player seeks to play.
There are other gameplay components such as port investments, where the player donates part of their gold to the economy of a port. Investment over time will allow the given port to prosper and become a source of the best ships or the best source of a certain trade good. What ports to invest in is up to the player to discover. The player can also borrow money from banks which will eventually send loan sharks after the player if their debts remain unpaid for too long.