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?