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People who enjoyed playing the main game should definitely consider picking up this add on, as they will no doubt enjoy the extra content and the shift in tactics. However, Privateer doesn’t bring enough to the table to encourage new players to take up the challenge.
Aside from the streamlining of the trade mechanic and the removal of the pretty but useless animated city graphics, East India Company: Privateer does nothing to make the excellent East India Company better, and is in some ways a step backward. This is a full-scale game that would’ve been better off as DLC.
Even for only $10, East India Company: Privateer doesn’t offer near the amount of content we’ve come to expect from an expansion pack. There is only one new feature, the privateer missions, and they simply attach a cash reward to things you should be doing anyway. In fact, there is no reason to play a privateer, as it’s way better to just align with a company and be able to use their home port to buy ships. Being a privateer offers no advantages (you make the same amount of money, save for the mission bonuses) with plenty of disadvantages: you trade and fight like usual, but you only have access to a small number of neutral ports and can't build ships until you improve relations. So what's the point? You start out so small and so slowly that it takes you half of the campaign time to build up a reasonable fleet. I would much rather just start aligned so I can have more than three ships.