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I renewed PotBS about three weeks ago, and played the hell out of it up until two days ago. Previously, I had played the game from release up until around mid March.
I can honestly say that I wish I hadn't wasted my 15 bucks renewing.
Similar to EVE Online (although not a perfect mirror, unfortunately), ships in PotBS are automatically given insurance once a deed has been handed in. Now, when ships are sunk and their final durability is lost, a player will be refunded a set percentage of a predetermined value (I.E.: not what you paid, what the devs think it's worth), plus fittings.
2) Fewer servers
In April, the FLS devs finally caught on to the disaster brewing right under their noses, and cut the game's server numbers in half. Characters were forced to transfer to four remaining servers. As bad as this sounds, it had the positive affect of consolidating a shrinking player base, and making the game more playable for those people who remained.
3) More readily available line ships
Societies have quickly discovered that, if even 9 or 10 people work hard at it, a first rate can be produced in just a few months. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to see a guild with all first and second rates pulling into a PB and just dominating. I would count this as a positive, if only because as recently as 4 months ago, the heavies were considered near-unattainable.
1) PvP Fears
Despite the addition of insurance, people are still loathe to risk their ships in combat. As previously mentioned, insurance in PotBS can hardly compare to that in EVE. When you lose a first rate worth, say, 15,000,000 dubloons, you can expect to regain barely 5 mil on the pay out. Therefore, big ships are rarely used except in PBs, and a healthy majority of the playerbase still skirts redzones, same as they did at launch. Had insurance been present when the game debuted, people might not have been quite so risk averse... but the pattern - now well-imbeded - has been tough to break, and PvP (particularly of a breed one might consider 'fair') is still rare.
As pointed out before, ship loss is still a bad sting, and this has led to a good deal of hostility in PBs. On Antigua (the server that my former server was basically rolled into), the PBs for the British are, strangely enough, mostly governed by a couple of fairly high end German societies. A few days before quitting, I attended one of their PBs. Despite the fact that we were absolutely flattening our opponents, the battle leader screamed at many of those in attendance for (what I would consider) really, really minor slip-ups. This continued well past the point when our victory was ever in doubt. If there was the slightest chance that this guy's second rate was going to get scratched or dented in even the most incidental way, and you turned two seconds too early, or didn't target switch fast enough, or whatever, this guy was going to rip you apart over vent, calling you out by name.
I've seen this garbage before in other MMOs, but only in situations where the two individuals were in the same guild. My take on that is if you sign up for a guild like that, and let someone talk to you in such a manner, than it's your own fault. But here, where PBs are such a cobbled-together collection of players, to scream at some random stranger for making a minor flub is outrageous. And don't pass this off as some minor complaint about an isolated issue - PotBS has behavior like this in spades.
3) Runaway games
Nothing has been done to give a losing faction some even minor hope of retaking the map. As one faction innevitably comes to dominate the Caribbean, they can gradually shut off the ability of other factions to produce products (most notably, large ships). This means that, as one side conquers, they gain power in an increasingly dominant arc.
4) Lineships for pirates
Outside of the bucaneers, nobody thinks this is a good idea. FLS has decided to grant pirates heavy ships that essentially equate to the power of second rates. The factions were balanced around the idea that pirates, as rogues who couldn't have the big boats, would be gifted fairly strong powers (ridiculously fast ships, the ability to steal vessels and pay nothing, overpowered ship combat and av. combat abilities, etc). With lineships, these previously balanced abilities will soon become disgustingly OP. So, this is wonderful news for you peg-legged, eyepatch-wearing types, but just a disaster for the rest of the player base. Expect FLS to take months to fix it, if they ever do.
5) Loss of server identity and continuity
I can only speak for the Brits on Antigua, but many of us that came from Bonny can remember a well-coordinated faction that dominated all discussions as to who ruled the server. On Antigua, we're working with players from 4 or 5 closed servers, and the result has been chaos.
So, yeah, I am really, really sorry that I resubbed. This was a bad game before, and it really has not improved. There is still virtually no endgame outside of PBs, and these are always basically the same challenge, repeated over and over again. It's like you're playing World of Warcraft, but the single piece of endgame content is Alterac Valley, and you can really only average 3 battles every 2 or so days.
Take my advice and find something else to play.