The interface has seen improvements in several areas. And the latest patch notes just announced some more improvements in this area. New ships have been added and existing ones have been rebalanced time over time with small changes. Ship outfittings had a much needed complete rebalancing, because some items were just too overpowered. Many more things have changed, but I'm going to pick out a few of those.
The Pirates always had just one class, where the other nations had access to three. This means less complementing buffs and limited capabilities. Especially when having to play a role in the server-wide PvP. That was changed a few patches ago with the introduction of the Buccaneer. At a first glance it seems like an evil brother to the Freetrader. It also has some economy based skills and access to trader ships. The biggest difference from the existing Pirate class, now called the Cutthroat, is that Buccaneers can't capture defeated ships themselves. But they can sail such ships when captured by the Cutthroat. But the skillset is quite different from any other class. In just one word you can call it situational; many skills depend on distance or yourself being damaged. And instead of having high damage attack skills like other classes do, many attacks are instead based on debuffing the opponent, which can work very well together when you're group with a Cutthroat.
The players playing Pirates didn't have much end-game content. Sure, they can PvP on the OS as the other nations and take part in server-wide NvN (nation versus nation). But they stood no chance in actually winning a server round (because a large part of the points come from actually controlling more ports, where Pirates only temporarily raid ports). And on the other hand they usually ended up second also because they could not lose ports permanently. With the introduced underdog tools (where the ports of the winner of the last round are easier to be attacked. And being placed last gives XP and loot bonus). The Pirates now have a small boost in this area by gaining more points per port capture. Some special content has been added at some specific ports when they are being raided by the Pirates after a successful attack. The whole atmosphere in those ports changes and the Pirates get access to special missions. For all nations it's still so that the end game content is formed by PvP battles and NvN strife.
An arm and a leg
With PvP mostly just happening at level 50 and people play to win, high level ships and outfittings are often very popular. But since you lose outfittings and a durability point of your ship (all ships start with about 4 durability points; like a limited amount of lives), you have to replace that when you sink. This made PvP very costly. Like many other games, the only input of money into the game is from missions or killing NPCs. In one of the recent patches a free insurance for outfittings and ships was added. This returns about 85% of the minimum construction price of the items, though the actual cost of production is often far above that. This does seem to have caused the wished effect of more people spending time PvPing.
Also new are a number of 'money grinding' missions. Some nations had access to missions that would spawn a lot of high level ships, giving easy money. To straighten this out, FLS created these new missions that are equal for every nation. I guess the next step is to reduce the number of times one can do the existing missions. That is, if FLS dares to call the wrath of the British players over themselves.
There's never enough content
Almost all missions were made before the game was published. But over the past two special repeatable epic missions were added. Bey's Retreat is made for a group of level 25 players. With the main fleet gone, the defences of the stronghold of the Corsairs of the Main is weakened, giving you a chance to sneak in. This instance requires ship and avatar combat to reach the final goal.
Fortaleza de Luz is made for a group of level 50 players. The game has a long mission sequence that ends in supernatural storyline. With that in mind they created the first real 'raid' instance, that only takes place in avatar combat. Fortaleza is a long forgotten abandoned stronghold of the Knights of Christ where other powers have taken over. You'll encounter enemies stronger than ever. The area is spooky and the fights indeed harder than any avatar mission before. It is a bit of a shame that the game mechanics make the instance even harder than it already is, but it was fun nevertheless.
The annual Talk Like a Pirate Day is getting closer and closer. And with PotBS being the official TLAPD game, this event has of course to be celebrated. So, from September 17th till the 26th you'll find Cap'n Slappy and Ol' Chumbucket in the game, with some special tasks for you!
There are still plans to add more end-game content. Currently that's just NvN and PvP. But the developers have been talking about player governed ports and more socializing opportunities since the game was launched. They're also still working on the Skirmish system, which would let players set specific constraints for a ship battle. This should also make (enforced) port battles for smaller ships possible. Since currently players only try to bring the best ships they can, this excludes lower level players from one of the best things the game has to offer.
Lately FLS has been taking steps to change PvP to try and cope with nation imbalance. Some players think these changes are for the worse though. Fact is, that the number of players has been decreasing. And with NvN requiring balanced nation sizes this isn't really working on some servers anymore. FLS has always been listening to the players. But listening and changing things takes time. I'm confident that the game will eventually end up for the better, especially when more end-game content makes it's way into the game.
I wanna be a pirate too!
The best thing kept as last. You can meet Cap'n Slappy and Ol' Chumbucke yourself now. For more information about the 14 day trial, go to the website. I still keep finding missions with nicely written storylines.