Community Review: Sea of Thieves

Image: Ricardo Robles / Rare

After the initial launch day woes, the Sea of Thieves servers settled down for people to plunder the high seas. Problem was, there wasn't much value to be plundered.

It makes sense to tackle Sea of Thieves for this week's Community Review, if only because Rare's pirate adventure has been awaited for so, so long. Rare's making proper video games again, instead of Kinect titles here and there. That's exciting!

But so far, Sea of Thieves is not. That's been the prevailing sentiment amongst my friends and social feeds over the last week. What Rare is trying to do is obvious - create a platform for people to amuse themselves, wrapped up in the mechanics of looting and shooting on the high seas.

Thing is, the raw gameplay loop doesn't seem to be fun enough. Adam phrased it nicely last week:

There's not much progress in Sea of Thieves. You can do quests for factions to earn rewards and higher tier quests. In turn, these higher tier quests unlock greater rewards and even more quests. The stakes are low unless you attach sentiment to what's happening.

Setting forth on voyages is clunky. Fighting skeletons feels sluggish and unresponsive. There have been constant server problems since the game launched. I've even experienced bugs where my weapons simply did not load into the game, making me unable to fight unless I restarted.

That aside, maybe there's a different way to think about this. Perhaps Sea of Thieves is better viewed as an interactive chat room, almost a pirate-themed Second Life in a way, rather than a traditional sandbox multiplayer adventure.

That's maybe a little too conciliatory, although Rare has been very open about what their plans are for the game. For myself, I always lean towards where stories are made through the split-second decisions players are forced to make - and the moments of randomness and incredible skill that occur in those scenarios.

That doesn't mean I'm not interested in a more relaxed co-op experience, but maybe this one isn't for me.

What do you think, dear readers? How have you found Sea of Thieves, and what hopes do you have for its future? And as a bonus question: has anyone playing got the game through the Xbox Game Pass?


    It goes on the huge list of games I would have loved to death if it had existed when I was 14 and lots of friends with nothing better to do.
    It seems fun but I’m not going to play it much on my own.

    It also does a TERRIBLE job of telling you what to do. I think that’s partially intentional, but it’s difficult to cooperate with a crew of randoms when the game expects you to learn through trial-and-error.

    I felt like I had seen pretty much all the game had to offer after watching at a mates house for an hour. Graphically the game is superb even on console, but there is nowhere near enough content to justify the price.

    My experience is that it is fun with friends but it is very skewed towards full teams, so much it is unfair. Sloops have 2 advantages over galleons. High manoeuvrability and can be piloted by one person.
    @sernobulus and I were harassed by a Galleon who was faster, had quadruple the guns and double the people. They annoyed us for at least half an hour before giving up. All we wanted to do was finish our quest that we had almost finished after spending an hour on it.
    We ended up giving up and wasted an hour and a half. It was frustrating and demoralising.
    Oh and I could hear the other ship, laughing and mocking us.
    Personally, I think there needs to be PvE servers and PvP servers. I feel like the game has the potential with all those islands. I would like them to have stories attached to them. I feel that they are already halfway there with the various items laying about.
    Shipwrecks are cool, but I would love to see npc controlled ships, ghost ships floating aimlessly and maybe even ships of the dead that have skeletons on them.
    Might give them a reason for that stupid Ferry of the dead.

      The griefing of Ultima Online over 20 years ago taught me the lesson of not playing a game with PvP unless I could accept that ganking attitude of others.

      It got real bad real quick, down to camping outside of starter towns and killing anyone that dared step outside the gates. The solution of providing a mirror universe you could port into eventually solved the problem, but it was too late for me by then. It left a filthy taste that's never gone away.

      I have no problem with PvP, but griefing is something I have no time for. Sea of Thieves seems to fall on the wrong side of that PvP/grief balance so far.

        CORP POR!

        Last edited 26/03/18 12:54 pm

          CORP POR and KAL ORT POR are the only two I still remember :)

        To make matters worse, Rare has no intention of putting in PVE servers or safe zones. People are complaining that it's not the true spirit of the game.

        I am going to make my own game. It'll have Fornite's base building, Sea of Thieves sailing, quests like Zelda Wind waker and ghost ships.
        And blackjack and hookers.

          Thats exactly the sort of game im prepping to make. Maybe we should work together?

            I am great at ideas for games. Not so great at following through =P

      Assuming you see any other players. We played for 5 hours on the weekend and only saw one other player, in town. He shot me in the back, stole the chest I was carrying, then got salty when the rest of my crew shot him, took it back, and chased his sorry arse out of Dodge.

      maybe even ships of the dead that have skeletons on them.

      While I feel the game desperately needs more PvE content, the last thing it needs is more skeletons.

        I only said that as it wouldn't require any additional modelling. It's already there. Maybe ghosts that you can actually attack?

          People! Pirates. Merchants. Navy. Soldiers.

          Orcs, elves, dragons.... er... forget that bit.

          Anything that isn't frikkin' skeletons!

            I prefer skeletons over snakes.

    Its dead boring as 1 player. Ton of fun with crew of 4. 1 guy couldn't get bananas out of the chests to get health. Several dropped out. Game crashed. After a weekend of playing it, it's just a loop doing the same old same old now. Even that takes hours.Fun but wont maintain players I feel.

      PC servers seemed totally solid over the weekend. Our XBox players were suffering though.

    da da daaaaaaaaa,
    da da re di da da daaaaaaaaa,
    da da re di da,
    da da re di da,
    da da re di da da daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    This is all I hear inside my head on a loop.

      It gets better if you're a wrestling fan because every time I hear Flight of the Valkyries, I think of this guy.

        Do you think it's a coincidence that Sea Of Thieves released when it did last week?

          I can totally imagine it.

          Vince McMahon sitting at his desk with a Xbox controller in one hand and a steak wrap in the other. He's sailing the seas, longing for the days where Paul Burchill was on the roster doing incestuous pirate things.

          He sails past another ship. They fight and in the mayhem the other crew board his ship and start running around with herdy-gerdies out. Flight of the Valkryies blasts through the TV.

          "Screw it, I'll let the little guy back in the ring."

          He finishes his steak wrap as his ship sinks.

            Cheer up. Only 2 weeks until you're medicated for another year...

              I didn't detect any ire in his post to be fair! And, while I doubt DB will be going at it every week, I'd say every 3 months he'll be doing a BIG 4 PPV (Mania/Summerslam/Rumble/Mania) at the very least - so hopefully his medication only needs to last 3 months!

              Though seeing him throw around those two footed dropkicks and landing on his neck (more or less) - had me worrried this return won't last as long as it should. But it was magnificent!

              To paraphrase Big Kev - I'm excited.

                I thought he was twisting a little more than usual with those dropkicks last week, meaning less landing on his neck. But it will be interesting to see how they use him going forward though.

                Do they keep him in bubble wrap, and just roll him out for the Big 4, do they put him intoa storyline with someone like Miz or Styles, or do they keep him on the shelf and let him wrestle indies? All are an option.

                For the fans, definitely something to get excited about though.

                  Well they do have a Miz/DB storyline to follow up from 12 months or so ago.

                  But yeah - I'd doubt we'll see him having matches on TV every week , and doing all the house shows (maybe an MSG/big venue one every now and then) - either way, DB four times a year is a better world to live in than no DB at all!

      I took a video of my dog reacting to the terrible drunk music on twitter

    Im having a good time with it, thats after about 50 or so hours across the alphas and betas. I don't play solo at all really. The game isnt built for it, you can, but its not as fun.
    I used to want pvp and pve servers, but now realise its easy enough to swing by an outpost and let your ship keep going while you jump off and turn in some loot, then catch a ride with a merfolk back to you ship, rinse and repeat if you're being harrased.

    All in all, there are some unfinished bits here and there and it def needs more content. There is also a tonne that I haven't done yet, due to having no time.

    Last edited 26/03/18 4:21 pm

      Best thing to do if you're being harassed is to fire yourself out of a cannon onto their ship, drop their anchor, jump overboard, and mermaid back to your own ship which is now far away.

      Stuff like that is hilarious when you manage to pull it off, but the game needs a lot more interlocking systems for that kind of emergent stuff to carry it.

    I have been hyped for this game since it was announced. I usually spend 2-3 hours on it every night now with mates. The voyages are repetitive but once you level them up they become harder. I find the best part is just mucking around on the ship and doing whatever you want. It's giving the same vibes as those early Minecraft beta days. I'm excited for more content though.

    I have a permanent group of friends who play with us (PC, not xbox), and so far we've been loving it. The thrill of the chase, the crazy battles, and the mad dashes to hand in loot under fire. It's definitely not a single player experience, but otherwise we've been having fun with it.

    Last edited 26/03/18 6:38 pm

      If you attack me while I am just trying to finish a stupid quest, I will cut you.

        Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.

          Just let me take my damn pigs to the damn trader! I've been trying to do it for an hour and a half! (true story)

    I've had a heap of fun with it. It's the anti-UBI style game. NO checkpoints, no 15 layers of subquest - just sail, sail away.

    I understand some people's disappointment as they expected more of a story/mission based affair - but I have enough of those to keep me busy.

    This is sublime.

      I enjoy sailing and exploring islands.

      Do not enjoy being completely outclassed and harassed.

    Good fun but needs a lot more work and content.

    3 Easy Ways to Improve Sea of Thieves

    - AI controlled ships. There's hardly enough galleons as it Is, with most players opting for solo sloops. It's a bit lame that in my first week of Sea of Thieves my friends and I haven't been able to have an actual galleon battle even once. I honestly can't believe they released the game without AI controlled ships. It's unthinkable to me.

    - Multi ship raids. The game needs more mid-end game content. Actually, it needs more content in general, but right now I want to be able to form an alliance with other crews to take on giant enemies. I thought that was what the Kraken was for, evidently not though. But you can take the idea Rare, it's all yours.

    - Let me choose what fucking song my character plays so I can pick the right song for the given situation without standing on the deck of my ship awkwardly starting and stopping till I get the right one. I don't want to play a cheerful song as my captain plunges us into a hurricane, and I don't want to play a somber song while we're drinking in the tavern. It can't be that hard to let me choose. Also you have a max of four crewmates but only two instruments, what were you thinking Rare.

      We need a flag or something that states you are willing to team up with another ship. Totally agree about the song. We had a cursed chest on bored and wanted happy music to drown out its moaning.

    I think too many people are fighting over how good PC players are compared to Xbox. I think Rare did a great job of cutting the afvantages PC players have. they can only turn so quick and thats limited and also when aiming down sights the speed is limited. Ive played on both Xbox and PC and suprisingly its much for much the same. I think give the game 2 weeks for peoples Game pass to end and you will see the better community come out for this game. So many times ive met so many chill peoples. Appears alot of people are currently shoot on sight. Once people work out its fast to work together you will have a better time, cause you know in the back of ya mind they could just turn around and shoot me so its gets your alertness raised and adrenaline going. All in all i think once the GAME PASS perios is over alot of the shoot on sight pirates will be gone. Plus the start of the game is ment to be simple i reckon as once you get to that level 50 i think were in for a great game as they might add lore and Athenas treasure. Quests might be more lore based once your 50. Also when people que randoms and they have a Pirate legend in their group they can experience end game quests when brings down the barriers for new players.

      For me
      Pros - Dont have to be 100% attentive. i can deal with my 3 year old for 2 minutes yet im still able to play an online game and have a close interaction with another player(s)
      Pro - Can play by myself, sometimes i just wanna mess around and just sail for no reason and no-one can stop me from just running around and looking at stuff. Dont always need an objective
      Pro - PC and Xbox anywhere title - i bought the game and can play on my PC while the missus logs into the xbox with shared games as its my home console and she plays on her account. Im happy for the 99$ price tag for essentially 2 games.Sometimes i just wanna lay on the couch and just sail and i can do that as it saves my game across both versions.

      Cons - As far as we know (and we dont know much) there isnt much else to do.
      Con - Game does not explain itself, like at all. ( for me this is a pro) but most need some kind of tutorial like, hey your boats over there, raise ya anchor and pull down the sheets and steer.
      I cant wait to see what other things are in the game that arent explained ( if someone dances while someone plays music will that unlock a secret cave?)

      No-one has hit level 50 to see what is planned yet. I hope its me cause im really enjoying the game so much, but i think past the 2 week game pass period the community will be better as only the people who want to play, will be playing still.

      I honestly think this is a great parents game cause you can chill on the couch and chat and if you need to get up and walk away for 5 minutes the game doesnt punish you like WOW or Fortnight( only picked them as their the biggest games out now)


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