Ever since it was first announced back in 2015, there have been some pretty lofty expectations surrounding Sea of Thieves. It’s a big exclusive for a console in desperate need of one and a new game from a once great studio that hasn’t had a big hit in a long time. That’s a lot of pressure for any one game to be under, and now that it’s finally been released, players will be able to judge for themselves if all of the waiting has been worth it. After my first few days with the game I’m sure there will be many aspects of it that will be picked apart and criticized, but for me the game is exactly what I was hoping for.
Games like The Division and Destiny have been able to build devoted, passionate fan bases by creating interesting worlds for players to experience with their friends and constant updates have helped to ensure that people keep coming back for more. Unfortunately I’ve had a difficult time connecting with those types of games due to the time investment required to truly get the most out of them. Sea of Thieves thankfully has given me a persistent world to hang out with my friends in, without the need to spend dozens of hours playing just to keep up with the rest of the community. I’m still early on in the game (so things could change), but so far I’m loving my life as a pirate.
The first thing that I love about the design of this game is the simplicity of the quests. In many of these types of games you can spend countless hours leveling up your character, assigning skills and perks, and equipping hundreds of different items before heading out on a quest that can take up an entire evening to complete. In Sea of Thieves it’s thankfully much simpler. You just choose which type of Voyage you want to go on (you can search for treasure, hunt skeleton captains, and trade goods), hop on your ship with a few friends and go. So far most the missions seem to last no more than about 30 minutes (depending on the shenanigans that you get into along the way) which I appreciate as it allows someone like myself with limited hours to play online to better find time to get together with friends.
The second thing is the simplicity of the progression system. Forget trying to figure out if you have the right light level or can deal enough dps. You don’t level up your character itself and it seems so far that most (if not all) of the upgrades to weapons and gear are cosmetic only. If I were playing a game like Destiny I would feel left behind if I didn’t play for a week or two and all of my friends who have more free time would leave me in their high level dust. Now I know that whenever I happen to have the time to jump in, we’ll all be on a level playing field.
Finally, the thing that I think makes this game so special is that even though there are plenty of quests to keep you busy, it’s the non scripted adventures that you’ll experience along the way that will be the most memorable. After less than 72 hours with the game I already have several fun, wild, and unpredictable tales of run ins with other pirate crews. This game is primarily about hanging out with your friends. Whether you’re hunting for gold to become a pirate legend or just relaxing on the deck of your ship under the stars, playing some music, and maybe drinking a bit too much grog with your pals. The greatness in the game will largely depend on what you bring to the table.
As I said earlier, I’ve spent only a few days with the game and there’s a lot that I don’t yet know (including what’s behind that mysterious door in the pub), but I think this is a game that I’ll be coming back to for a long time. It’s not for everybody and I know some people will be disappointed without all of those deeper systems in place, but it fits both the style of play that I enjoy and my schedule just right. I can’t wait to see how this game grows and evolves in the months to come. For part-time pirates like myself, it’s exactly what I was hoping it would be.