Sea of Thieves Review

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Set sail on the open seas with up to four friends in the latest game from the iconic game studio, Rare. Find out what we thought about this new pirate adventure in our Sea of Thieves Review!

Release Date March 20, 2018
Genre Action/Adventure
Platforms XBO/PC
Developer Rare
Price $59.99 US
ESRB Rating Teen
Players 1-4 Players

 

I’ve been a big fan of Rare as long as I can remember. This development studio has given me some of my favourite gaming memories going back to games like Donkey Kong Country on the SNES to Perfect Dark and 007 GoldenEye on the N64 just to name a few. Then, Microsoft swooped in and gobbled up the studio and they were never quite the same. Sure, we got a sequel to Perfect Dark and another sequel to Banjo Kazooie, we even got new IPs like Kameo: Elements of Power, but it just didn’t feel like the same company. Rare went on to make Kinect games for the Xbox 360 and all hope seemed lost until the announcement of Sea of Thieves. This game looked like it would recapture some of that Rare magic, and after playing it, I think it has done just that.

Sea of Thieves Review
The open sea.

My first impression of Sea of Thieves was one of sheer wonder. The art style is a cool cartoon style similar to that of Team Fortress 2. I think it fits the game’s personality quite well and I don’t think this game would have had nearly as much character. The amazing part wasn’t so much the characters as it was looking out into the sea and seeing the beautiful waves crashing against the boat as you set sail. The world feels endless and the islands that are scattered throughout the open sea are full of mystery. 

Sea of Thieves stands out amongst most games of this generation. There is no story mode to speak of. There is no grind to level up or skill trees and upgrades to unlock. There aren’t even any loot boxes. You are simply dropped into a vast world on the high seas. You don’t get any tutorial, you just start playing. Now, I know what you’re thinking, what is there to keep me interested in this game if it’s “missing” so many things? The answer to that question is that it’s simply fun. Somewhere along the line, we forgot that complexity doesn’t equal quality and nowhere is that more apparent than Sea of Thieves.

Sea of Thieves Review
You can light lanterns on your ship to traverse through the night or turn them out for a stealthy approach.

Up to four players can embark on an adventure together online, though you can go at it alone if you want to. Working cooperatively is much more fun and that’s definitely how the game was meant to be played. You and your crew set sail on one of two available ships and each person has their own tasks to do such as navigation, lookout, cannons, and sails. It’s quite a task to get all these moving parts working together. It’s impossible to steer or man the sails and be in the map room at the same time so your team needs to be in constant communication. Of course, there are always those players who end up going off on their own and screwing up the whole crew’s plans so it’s definitely better played with friends than strangers.

It’s weird for a game to not have a story, but Sea of Thieves manages to pull it off quite well. This is a game that prefers that you live out your own pirate fantasies rather than shoving a story arc down your throat. There are three different characters representing different clans that offer you quests like hunting undead pirates, gathering items, or finding buried treasure. Completing these quests does level up your status with each clan, but that only leads to tougher quests. The main goal is to obtain as much gold as possible to spend on customizing your character and ship. 

Your character is equipped with a small number of items that will help them on their journey. You can choose from a few different weapons to take care of those undead enemies, but the utility items are much more interesting. There are standard things like the compass and a lantern for light (which is useful considering the game can get quite dark), but there are also things like wooden planks that you can use to plug a hole in the ship to prevent it from sinking. I figured that out a little too late as I watched my boat sink as I was standing on an island after hitting a rock. There’s even a bucket that you can fill with water…or puke in when you drink too much. You can then toss it on an enemy to disorient them. These are the little details that make me certain that I haven’t come close to seeing all that Sea of Thieves has to offer.

Sea of Thieves Review
This is what happens when you don’t plug up those holes.

The main issue that some people could have with the game is that it can get repetitive since there are really no over-arching objectives. You’re trying to find treasure, that’s it. I haven’t gotten bored with the game, but I can see how some people would. The other issue is that there are no safe areas from PVP. You can spend a few hours collecting treasure on your ship only to be taken out as you pull into port to sell it off. The PVP aspect is pretty fun, but there are only so many ways to board a ship or take out another ship since everyone has the exact same equipment available to them. Still, having to constantly be on guard gives the game more of a sense of purpose and keeps things from getting too mundane.

Sea of Thieves is a great new IP with a lot of potential. I think what we’re seeing in the game is just the tip of the iceberg right now. Rare has built a solid foundation for a game that is likely to be around for years rather than fade away after a few months. I loved my time with this game and I really feel like it’s one of the best games you can play with friends. The strategy and cooperation involved in Sea of Thieves is second to none. I’d recommend this game to everyone. It’s a fun experience that you shouldn’t pass up.

*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Xbox for review puposes*