Sea of Thieves is an interesting game.
When it’s played with players that chat amongst themselves so you can co-ordinate who does what in a quest (“Hey, WIbblewobble42*, set the sail angle”, “Consolegrindr4434*, man the cannons: I see a ship on the horizon!”, “Oi, F3nd3r B3nD3r3323*, repair the ship!!), it can be super fun and incredibly rewarding, but when players don’t chat amongst themselves and there’s no communication – or you’re taking to the high seas on your own – it can be a frustrating, often, lonely experience.
Sea of Theives, as it was designed by Rare, is a game that is best played with friends – and friends you know, I’ve decided. If you don’t like MP games and don’t have a good crew with you, it’s a frustrating experience. It looks good, though: I’m playing on my PC via cross-play ( I don’t currently have an active Xbox Live Gold membership which is needed to play Sea of Thieves) and I have to say I’m loving the cartoon-ish art style. The sea, too, is perhaps on of the best looking seas I’ve seen in a video game in a long time, with rolling waves that bounce your ship around.While I’m running an old nVidia GTX660Ti (3Gb of memory) I’m managing a fairly solid 30 frames a second at legendary settings and 1080p. Of course, I could increase the FPS if I drop the resolution.
A couple of times I’ve joined crews and despite me having voice chat – one player confirmed that he could hear me – there was no chat, even though I was talking. I guess not everyone wants to chat in Sea of Thieves but it made for an awkward quest. There was no coordination in what was happening, apart from one guy – the same one who kept on running up to people at the start and saying (in a rather annoying voice) “Do you have a voice box? Do you have a voice box?” – and the in-game chat, which lets you message with generic commands like “Ahoy”, “Man the cannons”, “I’m low on health”, that sort of thing.
Sea of Thieves is best played with a crew because if you’re on your own, when you set sail you have to control everything yourself: You have to check the map, you have to set the sail length and angle, you have to raise the anchor, you have to steer the ship and you have to climb the crow’s nest to get a better view on things. It also means if you’re ship gets damaging or is taking on water, you’ll have to go below decks, grab some planks and plug up the holes before you sink. If you have several people, it means they can (hopefully) each man one of those stations and co-ordinate a voyage. Sea of Thieves is definitely more fun played with other people.
If you die, you’ll be transported to the Ferry of the Damned, a ghost ship where you’ll stay in limbo (for a few minutes) before you can travel back to your ship. Incidentally, if you get left behind by crew mates or can’t find your ship, a mermaid (seemed to be a merman, actually) will be floating in the sea with a flare: click on him and you’ll be transported back to your ship.
Sea of Thieves has lots of promise and I’ve read online some people compare it to PlayStation’s No Man’s Sky. I think that’s unfair, to be honest. Despite early day hiccups through unexpected demand, Sea of Thieves is doing what it says on the tin: Offering sea-faring adventures to online pirates, even if a lot of the quests seem similar. I’m sure Sea of Thieves will evolve over the coming months, as Rare looks at things and sees how players interact with each other.
Microsoft will be pinning its hopes that Sea of Thieves does well to help bolster its – in my humble opinion – rather light exclusive gaming line-up.
*I had a good play session tonight, with a few online companions. With a good crew, that work together, Sea of Thiives is great fun. I also found that there are more chat options: One guy was giving rather long sentences so I’m guessing you can type using a keyboard if you’re on PC?
*I made all these names up. I didn’t actually come across anyone with those online names. Any similarities to actual online names is purely coincidental and if they actually exist, wouldn’t that be incredibly amazing on my abilities? Cripes, what if they were actually playing Sea of Thieves as well?