Sea of Thieves is Rare’s take on the shared world multiplayer game, where you take up the adventurous role of a pirate. The action adventure game initially launched amidst a ripple of online connectivity issues, though things have gradually stabilized as a large population of players have set sail on their respective voyage.
The greatest strength of Rare’s brand new IP is that it isn’t comparable to other online coop games. It’s a light-hearted adventure that dwells on the act of teamwork and cooperation. The first few hours of the game can be both hectic and exhilarating, depending on the sort of synergy you have with your crew members. Naturally, it is ideal to play with friends, though pairing up with random players can also result in an engaging experience.
The game is played from the first-person perspective. You can choose to start off solo or pair up into a group of four. You’re then given a ship to embark upon. Actions such as clearing the anchor and hoisting the sails needs to be done manually before your group can head out into the sea. Each of the four players takes on a task on board. There are no right or wrong roles for characters, therefore it isn’t necessary to manage who does what. Anyone can take helm or get behind the ship’s cannons. Since the wind is constantly changing direction, another important task is to readjust the sails, which in itself is a full-time duty.
In order to choose a destination, a navigator must head inside the ship’s deck and pin-point it on a map table. Communication between players is key to success in Sea of Thieves. Much like in Destiny’s raids, it’ll be extremely difficult for teamwork to flourish. For example, you may end up giving the helmsman difficult directional instructions during the ship’s navigation. The helmsman’s view is often obstructed, therefore one player needs to keep a lookout for nearby enemy ships or rocks and keep the rest of the crew informed.
Ideally, there would have been five crew members handling each of the activities. However, there are four, and this is where effective management plays a vital role. Moreover, resources also need to be diverted to patching up holes in the hull when the ship takes damage. This constant tension ensures that you’re always communicating and cooperating with your crew.
Enemies range from AI skeletons and snakes to teams comprising of other players. PvP can be encountered anywhere on the map, and isn’t limited to specific regions. This can often be annoying, as another team of players may ambush you while you’re in the middle of a quest. The battles themselves are fun, however, starting off as ship-to-ship duels between two teams. You’ll also have the opportunity to board the other team’s ship and clash swords or use gun fire.
In addition to facing regular AI enemies, you’ll also have a special boss encounter with the Kraken, a gigantic creature with large tentacles, also awaits in the depths of the seas. Much like the PvP duels, this battle will test your cooperation and communication skills more than ever.
Your objectives are handed out to you through factions. There are a total of three factions available at the pirate ports, each of which issues different orders. Goldhoarder sends you on a treasure hunt, where you use a treasure map to find and bring back treasure chests containing precious loot. The Order of Souls hands out contracts. It requires you to hunt down mighty skeleton warriors and take them out. There are pieces of information in the minds of these high value targets that the faction can decipher and turn into treasure maps for the Goldhoarder faction. The third faction i.e. Traders, is the least interesting.It sends you off on fetch quests or asks you to transport goods from point A to B.
The ultimate goal for pirates is to ascend within the world of Sea of Thieves. As such, the omission of a progression system is odd and ultimately hurts the game’s longevity. It’s not possible to improve your weapons or skills with points. Investing more time in the game does yield a wider range of cosmetic items as well as a few weapons, however.
This leads to the game’s biggest issue i.e. lack of content. The game’s world looks fascinating, but there’s little to no story context or world building. A proper story mode would’ve helped to alleviate this issue. The islands are largely empty and don’t provide much incentive for exploration outside of the faction objectives. The faction objectives themselves boil down to generic fetch quests that ultimately get mundane.
All in all, Sea of Thieves doesn’t offer much of a voyage past the first few hours, as it feels incomplete and lacking in terms of content for a full priced game. In spite of this, there is some fun to be had when the game works well as a social sandbox. There’s plenty of unrealized potential here, as it’s evident that the foundation is there for a great game. Things could look a lot more interesting a couple of months from now, should Rare build upon this foundation with a regular stream of features and content.
Sea of Thieves Review (PC/Xbox One)
Game Reviewed on: PC/Xbox One
Game description: Sea of Thieves is an action-adventure game developed by Rare and published by Microsoft Studios for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One.
Sea of Thieves offers a lackluster voyage past the first few hours, and feels incomplete. However, there is some fun to be had when the game works well as a social sandbox. There’s plenty of unrealized potential here, as it’s evident that the foundation is there for Rare to build upon in the months to come.