Sea of Thieves Review
Sea of Thieves is a game that is LOADED with potential, but little of which is realized at this time. It’s also a game I will keep coming back to from time-to-time to see what has been changed and updated. What is here is great, but when you are asking 59.99 USD for the experience, it quickly becomes apparent that what’s here isn’t worth the retail purchase price. On the flip side, for those looking at it via Xbox Game Pass, there is plenty of value here for your $10 a month entrance price.
There is no denying that Sea of Thieves looks fantastic, and perhaps has the best water physics in any video game, ever. That is saying a lot, as many games have had great water physics, but none hold a candle to this. From the water to the islands, to the ships, everything in Sea of Thieves has been polished to look as good as possible, using a very unique cartoony art style hat fits the game very well.
As Sea of Thieves never takes itself too seriously, utilizing this art style is a great choice; graphically realistic pirates drinking grog, getting drunk, and playing tunes on their instruments just wouldn’t have the same feel. Design wise, the team at Rare – who are tops in the industry and have been since the days of the Nintendo 64 – has done a phenomenal job.
At the time of this review, the gameplay in Sea of Thieves is pretty basic. You can accept quests from three different individuals: one provides merchant quests, asking you to obtain specific animals and return them for money; another will ask you to dig up treasure chests using treasure maps, and returning those chests for money; and yet another will ask you to collect mystic skulls by killing famed pirates across the games numerous islands. Returning these skulls – depending on the difficulty – will net you a bit payday!
Once you’ve received yoru quests and loaded the necessary items on your ship – cannonballs, boards to fix the ship, bananas to heal, and more – it’s anchors up and sails down. Sea of Thieves can be tackled alone, with a single partner, or in a group of 4. While playing alone is definitely the least fun – and frankly we wouldn’t recommend it – playing with one other person or in a group of 4 is a viable play style for Sea of Thieves. Larger crews will have the larger galleons, while smaller crews of 1 or 2 will man a schooner. The schooners are better at turning, while the galleons pack more power in each punch. When attempting to weight the pros and cons of each should they meat in a ship-to-ship battle, it ultimately comes down to who the better pirates are, rather than what ship they are using.
The PvP interactions are ultimately what will keep people coming back to Sea of Thieves. The three quests types will quickly become mundane and repetitive, and you’ll soon learn that looting other ships and stealing their chest, animals, and skulls is much more enjoyable than finding them yourself. This is where Sea of Thieves gets incredibly fun – for the winner – and excruciatingly frustrating – for the losers. As there are no levels in Sea of Thieves – but rather notoriety with each quest giver (who give harder and more valuable quests the higher level you are with them), there doesn’t seem to be anyway to create good, equal matchmaking opportunities.
Great pirates with numerous hours of experience might find themselves on the seas with those hoping into the game for the first time. This works against both parties, but mostly against the new players, as jerks will always exist and find joy in sinking a crew time after time, regardless of any potential plunder.
The Crippling Factor
As much fun as Sea of Thieves is when played with friends – because if I’m honest, playing alone or with random people is no fun at all, especially those who don’t use mics – there is a definite lack of content that won’t go unnoticed by many. It is why as a 60 dollar title, I cannot easily recommend, but can do recommend for those playing via Xbox Game Pass. There is fun to be had with this game, and when playing with a few of my brothers around launch day, we had a blast! But we did quickly become tired of the grind. Sure, as many will point out, we never got far enough to take on the legendary quests – although we did tackle the Kraken which was fun! – we also weren’t committed enough to grind our way to that level.
Sea of Thieves is chalked full of potential, perhaps more so than any game currently available, and I fully expect Rare to release outstanding content in the months and years to come. If handled well, Sea of Thieves will have content for years to come, and over time, Rare will make the retail price worth it.