Title: Sea of Thieves
Genre: Action Adventure
Available On: PC and Xbox One
Version Tested: PC (Crossplay)
Official Site: https://www.seaofthieves.com/
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Where to Buy it: Steam, Xbox One, Local Retailer
Even back when it was announced in 2014, I was a bit skeptical of Sea of Thieves based on what I had seen. While the pirate genre seemed to be making a comeback, mostly in part to Assassin Creed IV: Black Flag, it didn’t seem enticing outside of pretty visuals. Fast forward to 2018 and that still seems to be the case.
Seas of Thieves starts out giving the player a few choices to customize their character. While options are limited, each one has a goofy and unique look, similar to a pirate from Saturday morning cartoons, rather than the murdering and pillaging type. The landscape was as pretty as it was when it was first showed off, with the water standing out. Alongside a cinematic, the tone of the game was set well as a result. I knew to expect a fun romp of a game instead of a serious one.
After choosing either a galleon (built for four players) or a sloop (built for one or two), the game drops you onto a hub island, giving the player free will to wonder as they please. After talking to a few people, quests are given. Once you hop onto your ship and head out onto the open seas, it becomes apparent that not only is Sea of Thieves a beautiful game, it has the potential to be a great one too.
Navigating storms, combating skeletal hordes, and finding buried treasure isn’t something that has readily been explored in the action genre of games as of yet. While the aforementioned Black Flag had satisfying ship fights, it still played like Assassin’s Creed. It lacked the ambiance of a pirate movie, one where the pirates would solve the riddles of a map to unearth shiny booty. At the start, Sea of Thieves does this really well. It doesn’t take long before repetition sets in though.
Be it level one or level 60, enemies and quest have little to no variation. Fighting the same skeletons – albeit scaled ones at later levels – and retrieving the same chests, delivering chickens, or nabbing glowing skeleton heads gets old after the first few hours. It is considerably grindy, and not in the good way.
On the surface, it would seem like Sea of Thieves is trying to provide the same type of long lasting experience found in Bungie’s Destiny. A considerably short game, once players beat Destiny or any of its expansions, the missions would be replayable. Even if a new mission did come out, it tended to be set in the same vein of previous ones when it comes to its objectives. What sets the two apart then? Rewards.
Unlike Rare’s pirate game, Destiny provided an onslaught of new and unique weapons. Alongside that, there were plenty of different types of armor that provided combat benefits for both PvP and PvE. Rewards in Sea of Thieves, on the other hand, is purely cosmetic. Gold earned throughout each quest can be used to purchase a unique eye patch or pistol skin, but that’s about it. Nothing that affects combat or gives any distinct advantage.
Even Sea of Thieves’ best feature, its co-op, can be hit or miss. I ran into issues on both sides of the spectrum, be it going in as a group or trying to join a random one. Issues inviting players or getting players into a lobby before a random person joined resulted in leaving the game or being asked to leave a game. Like most games where there is no communication, PvP is considerably difficult without talking to teammates as well. This wouldn’t be an issue if there was a designated zone for PvP, similar to the Darkzone in The Division. Instead, nowhere is safe from enemy players.
That isn’t to say that co-op isn’t fun. Roleplaying with your friends, assigning who is captain, first mate, and so on, is fun for a bit. Like the rest of the game though, the lack of variety doesn’t give gamers any reason to stay at the moment.
Sea of Thieves does have a lot of potential, but as of now is not worth the price of admission, even with Game Pass.
Verdict: Much like the deck of a boat rocking in a vicious storm, Sea of Thieves has a lot of high and low. Unfortunately, its repetitive gameplay, cosmetic only rewards, and lack of content make it feel like an early access game, as opposed to a full release. Here’s hoping that they can pull a Destiny and update the game before it is too late, as the genre has untapped potential.
- Stunning visuals and atmosphere
- Gameplay and content variety
- Grind that isn't fun
- Cosmetic rewards
- PvP is everwhere