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Thoughts: Sea of Thieves

At the beginning of last month, I featured Sea of Thieves in the first ever Spotlight piece on the site. I was initially left underwhelmed by what I had seen of Sea of Thieves but was caught up in the hype during one of its public test sessions which were streamed on Twitch and Mixer. I thought the game looked great, especially with a full party of players.

After spending some time with the game, I’ve gotta be honest; I find myself feeling disappointed in what’s available. While there are a lot of interesting ideas presented here, they aren’t fleshed out to the level that they should be, and it’s a significant factor in just how little I’ve cared about my time playing it so far.

Rare are excellent developers, so there are many aspects of the game that I like. From a visual standpoint, Sea of Thieves is amazing. Rare have done an outstanding job in creating a world that feels unlike any other, yet also familiar in a way. It’s hard to explain, but when I look around in Sea of Thieves, I’m left thinking that this is something that looks and feels exactly like a Rare game. Islands and outposts look great and are fun to explore, and the ocean is arguably the best-looking body of water I’ve ever seen.

This charm has also carried over into the characters that are present in the game. I’ve found that some of the voice work is a bit bland, but walking past characters and hearing them hum a shanty to themselves contributes so much in building the world within Sea of Thieves. It’s a small detail, but it’s something that Rare have always excelled in.

Exploring the world is fun, but after playing the game for a while now, I feel that Sea of Thieves isn’t a worthwhile experience unless you have others to play with. However, thanks to some significant networking issues that have plagued the game since launch, that became almost impossible. I understand that many games experience these problems, but these problems haven’t subsided (I’m writing this one week after launch). Microsoft and Rare should have prepared better for this, especially with it launching on Game Pass.

I mentioned before that Rare have implemented some great ideas into Sea of Thieves, but they’re not as fleshed out as they could be, which makes the game feel half-baked. While ship combat is the main focus of the game (and it’s great), hand-to-hand combat doesn’t quite feel as fun. It’s simple, and there isn’t much variety in terms of weaponry. This could easily be expanded as time goes on, but as it stands, it doesn’t feel exciting to engage in.

I hold the same feelings about the quests that are available in the game as well. When it comes down to it, they’re just fetch quests and they get old quickly. Sea of Thieves needs more variety in what’s available in order to truly be an entertaining experience. Sure, there are skull forts for players to raid and overcome, but it’s just not enough to keep players around.

There’s a great game somewhere here, but Sea of Thieves doesn’t quite have the amount of content to truly bring that great game to life. Rare are a capable developer, and they have committed to expanding the game with new content being added to the game on a regular basis, so I’m sure things will improve. However, as it stands it’s hard to recommend Sea of Thieves to anyone that isn’t already subscribed to Game Pass. If you are, it’s worth checking out, but you’re bound to find more enjoyment out of the game if you have a group of friends to play with.

NOTE: Since writing this blog post, Rare have fixed their server issues, which were preventing players from matching with each other. 

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