Sea of Thieves, a game that’s meant to be played with a bunch of teammates, looks like it could be an amazing experience, as long as Rare will manage to fill up the world with crazy pirate activities and interesting environments instead of just a game based on infinite treasure hunting. If not, the game will end up like a sunken treasure, slowly fading in the deep ocean never to be spoken of, ever again.
The closed beta of Sea of Thieves has got the right idea of making this game interesting but it lacks variety and polish to become one of the greatest. From the moment you boot up the beta, it quickly becomes clear that the game offers you a lot of freedom. So much freedom, that you really feel like a fish out of water. This freedom can become exhilarating in a way of “I can do anything I want” but it can quickly become scary as well because you don’t really know if “you’re going in the right direction”. Sea of Thieves was a very unpredictable journey, from the moment you inhabit your pirate, you can quickly set sail to forgotten islands, play some pirate tunes, find some treasure, become surrounded by agitated skeletons and shoot yourself out of the cannon to end your journey with a blast. It’s this sense of adventure, that a lot of games are missing and while Sea of Thieves lacks some “motivating” features like variety, technical finesse and an expanding world, it’s going in the right direction.
“My party member and I were eager to begin as we dreamt about this pirate life, all along.”
The beta offered you a choice on how to start your journey: like a lone wolf, a lone wolf with a buddy or the leader of a wolf pack. Whatever choice you make, they all start in the same way but with a twist. The first minutes, I explored the ship and my options, once you get the hang out of it, I realize this game could become very amusing. My party member and I were eager to begin as we dreamt about this pirate life, all along. With not a single fear or woman that could hold us back, we sailed into the unknown. We planned on sailing to the nearest island to find our beloved treasure but what first started as a treasure hunt, quickly turned around and became a life-threatening situation where our boat crashed into the island and began to sink. Not knowing what to do, it still was a lot of fun to find out what was happening and how to solve it.
From this moment on, we knew this pirate life wouldn’t be easy and once you start to investigate the sailing system, there are so many things you should take into account. We had a big boat, so for us to get it moving, we needed to lower down every single sail we had to get some speed, of course, but the same speed isn’t always needed, especially when you’re getting close to an island or become confronted with another pirate ship. You really need to consider; how many sails are lowered down and the position in which your ship is headed. After a few sailing routes, you really get the hang of it and all of these boat features make it easy to handle the ship.
Going on a ship freely and exploring the sea, isn’t going to cut it when it comes to “keeping a gamer’s interest”. There are several quests to accept, these quests are called “voyages”. These voyages will lead you to an island where you will solve puzzles and get a treasure as a reward. These voyages will contain different obstacles to overcome: the wild sea with bloodthirsty sharks and pissed-off skeletons. It was nothing we couldn’t handle but we do hope the developers will make it a lot more challenging when the game will fully release. They already released some information about the “full release”, so hopefully, these extra voyages will be interesting enough to keep exploring the game. I can’t wait until we get confronted with the Kraken.
“We had a lot of fun just by playing and that’s where the game really shines.”
These voyages can be completed with your own crew. It’s interesting to see how players take on a different role in the crew they’re in. We were joined by two other party members, and after some debate, each player filled in an open spot and we made our own story come alive by taking on the form of these different pirates who are searching for some coin and adventure. Even though the questing seemed a bit repetitive, we had a lot of fun just by playing and that’s where the game really shines: being creative and just play out the pirate life you’ve always dreamed of. The game also doesn’t punish you when a quest is going wrong because due to a lot of options you have, you make the best out of each moment. It’s just all fun and games.
But these games and funny moments, do come with another side. If you can’t find the friends to play with; or your online session is being disturbed by some “singleplayer”- minded gamers, the game will easily become frustrating since cooperation is crucial in Sea of Thieves. Handling a ship on your own can become difficult in some situations, even the combat situations can become difficult if you don’t have anyone that has your back. Group up with people, put on voice chat, use pirate slang and you’ll have a blast, otherwise, this multiplayer game will become boring.
“It’s not a game for solo players”
Also, each pirate is equipped with a couple of things (others are more interesting than some), like a bucket, a sword, a rifle, a gun, binoculars, an accordion … and they all have a function. The instruments are used for some pleasant pirate tunes while sailing on the sea and the weaponry will help you defeat those scoundrels. Now the combat in Sea of Thieves is okay but it doesn’t feel very challenging. The skeletons can easily be defeated with hand-to-hand combat, so there’s no need to switch out weapons fast. I think it’s just a matter of weapon preference that’ll make you switch out weapons. There isn’t any type of “special weapons” that could make the combat a lot more interesting. However, the challenge to survive another pirate attack was far more thrilling then battling against skeletons. The combat was in other words, a bit disappointing but this might change with the fill release.
Sea of Thieves is also a sight to admire, especially the environment and the sea around it. They made some excellent decisions when it comes to the graphical aspect of the game. The sea looks gorgeous with the light on it and the islands themselves aren’t bad either. The character design may need some work but then again, they fit the scene perfectly. You can customize your characters with clothes that can be bought with an in-game currency but the clothes design wasn’t very interesting, hopefully, the full release will change that.
The closed beta offered a glimpse of what to come and from what I’ve seen, it does look like a lot of fun. I do hope they’re holding their biggest stuff back. The beta showed us some combat examples, the idea of having a crew and some interesting voyages but I did miss the fact that they didn’t show us how the progression system worked. Yes, voyages and other activities reward you with experience points that’ll help you build up your rank, but I do wonder how this will play out further into the game. The game was fun, at least with the right crew, and it does offer some interesting features. Even though I knew this game was still in beta, I couldn’t help myself wondering on how this game will turn out on the current market, as the game especially focuses itself a lot on the “multiplayer” aspect. We’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds for Sea of Thieves.