Sea of Thieves is not going to be for everyone. In fact, it might even upset exclusive hungry Xbox One fans that realize that this particular game isn’t going to have the same mass appeal like say, Horizon Zero Dawn. From what I’m getting from the closed beta at least, Sea of Thieves is going to have more in common with a game like Minecraft, where you make your own fun, than any other Microsoft controlled IP.
When I first dropped into a game of Sea of Thieves I was completely lost. I was running around a deserted island with a treasure map and it didn’t even appear to be the right island. Whoever steered us here didn’t seem to know what they were doing, and I kind of just spent 20 minutes walking around aimlessly, digging holes, smacking Skeletons with my cutlass occasionally, until I got bored and left. “Well that was pretty sucky” I thought to myself. Maybe the next time would be better? I tried a couple of more lobbies, and it was a similar result. People running around, not knowing what to do until we all gave up. I was starting to lose hope in Sea of Thieves. At the very least this closed beta seemed like an unorganized mess. I tried again, and jumped into another game.What followed was a nearly two hour adventure that totally encaptivated me in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long time.
I was put into a game that had at least one person that had a semblance of what we were supposed to be doing. That person was our captain, Captain Creampuff (yes that was his/her name), and myself and our other crew mate (Ninja, something, I don’t actually remember, but Ninja was definitely in the name, so lets call them Ninja) followed orders.
None of us used our mic. Instead we opted for using Sea of Thieves extensive, and at times, hilarious, preset text commands. Yes voice chat would have been a lot more efficient of course, but there was a charm and challenge to working within a limited set of words.
At first, I was incredibly intimidated by the idea of angling the sales and messing around with the anchors (as simple as it actually is), so I ran straight for the wheel and elected myself the helmsman. Ninja handled the sails while Captain Creampuff called out the orders from the bow of the ship.
When the sails are fully up, it’s actually very difficult to see where the ship is heading, so Captain Creampuff’s direction spam in chat was crucial. Our destination was a small island that held a secret treasure. I got us there in one piece, using my built in compass on the wheel to align myself with the Captain’s directions and when the Captain said we were close enough, Ninja dropped anchor. Captain Creampuff was quick to locate the treasure on the teeny tiny island. Ninja and I helped dig it up and we thought it was just going to be a smooth trip back to the Outpost HQ to collect our reward. It was the trip back where everything went horribly wrong.
Along the way back, we ran into another ship. Of course our instinct was to blow each other up. We gotta try out the cannons right? While the Captain and Ninja were pros at helping to keep the ship moving in the right direction, fighting was not their strong suit. They missed every shot while the opposing ship was drilling us with direct hits. I couldn’t let the ship go down and have us lose this treasure. I took evasive maneuvers and kept us out of the range of their cannons. Unfortunately, I steered us right into a terrible storm instead.
The wheel became near impossible to control and the compass was going nuts. That’s when I started seeing “Time to Bail” spammed into the chat. I took me a second to figure out what that meant. Were we going to jump off the ship? That doesn’t seem like a good idea. Then I remembered. “Oh crap bail the water out they mean.” I leave the wheel alone and head below deck and see water filling up the ship. There was only ever three of us (I believe four is the max), so between fixing the holes in the ship and bailing the water, I needed to help out.
We fixed the problem, but then I remembered that no one was steering the ship. I look out and we’re heading straight for an island. I quickly take the wheel back and try to steer it out of the way. I narrowly avoid directly colliding with the island but still scrape the ground, undoing all the work we just did to fix the ship.
We don’t have enough wooden planks to fix all the damage this time. Captain Creampuff yells out the general directions back to the outpost and joins Ninja in bailing the ship. I got us into this mess, and I needed to get us out. The storm was subsiding, and the skies were beginning to clear. I followed orders and got us headed back in the right direction. The Captain wasn’t around to make me aware of obstacles along the way, so I had to pop off the wheel check what’s up ahead, and if I had time, I’d grab my bucket and help bail before returning to the wheel.
I want to stop short of calling Sea of Thieves “realistic” but the teamwork and effort was very real, that’s for sure.
We just barely had enough time and manpower to get the ship back to the outpost. Quite literally we were bailing the ship even up to the point where we reached the dock while Captain Creampuff turned in our treasure and picked up the wooden planks we desperately needed. I received my cut, a few rank ups, and our mission was finally a success. We all grabbed our instruments, played a jolly tune in triumph, while shedding pirate tears of happiness. Arrr……
I don’t have enough information to know if Sea of Thieves will have the depth to hold player’s interest or not in the long term. Also, I’m worried that solo players may not be so lucky to find fun lobbies like I did and could get frustrated quickly. If I wasn’t assigned to see the closed beta through, I might have given up after a few duds. However, after experiencing what I did, I “get” the appeal now. The potential for amazing adventures that are unique to Sea of Thieves is there. And as of right now, I feel very optimistic about the future of this Xbox One exclusive.