After only a few hours spent in the closed beta, I’ve finally sunk some quality time into Sea of Thieves post-release. My impressions are positive overall, but I can’t shake the feeling that that I won’t be playing for much longer.
I’m so happy to see Rare, developers of games such as Banjo Kazooie and Perfect Dark, back at it. Sea of Thieves is a multiplayer pirate simulator – gather your (ship)mates and sail the seas. The game is so ridiculously charming and wonderfully playful that it makes me wonder why so many other developers strive for realism in their games. The cartoon-ish pirates are very much caricatures of every peg-legged and hook-handed sailor you’ve experienced in popular culture and, apart from the breathtaking water physics, the rest of Sea of Thieves‘ design follows through with this comical style. The sound design is special too, with creaking decks and thunderous storms accompanying the soothing sound of splashing waves. It’s magical.
The first few hours are truly a treat. Simply sailing a four-manned galleon is enough to have you smiling ear to ear. It takes real co-ordination to get moving – someone to man the helm, someone to handle the sales, someone to keep lookout and someone to man the canons (should they be needed). This kind of teamwork is almost never really seen in co-op games.
But I’m worried…
There is no real narrative to the game. The quests or ‘voyages’ are no more than fetch quests – go here, pick up/kill/find something, and return. As you progress, the fetching simply becomes more elaborate. I must admit it’s still early days for me, but the genuine lack of things to do is concerning.
The true joy of Sea of Thieves comes from the naval combat. Finding another player-manned ship is thrilling and the combat mechanics are solid, if a little limited. Most of my defining memories have come from extended battles with well-matched foes. But Sea of Thieves falters here too, as there is no real incentive to defeating opponents. You might get lucky and steal a treasure chest or two, but if this was your objective then you’re better off completing numerous voyages.
I really do appreciate that Sea of Thieves is a ‘make your own adventure‘ type game, but I think Rare will be walking the ol’ plank if substantial new content isn’t introduced soon. And I say all this with love. I’m rooting for Sea of Thieves. It’s truly a different experience that furthers multiplayer gameplay to new heights. However, what I’d really like, is depth.
I’ll keep plundering, and report back in soon.
Best wishes y’all.
P.S. I fought a Kraken and it was a real good time.