Ahoy me hearties! Sit by the hearth, rest those weary sea legs and raise a tankard of grog, as I regale you with my tales of hijinks on the high Sea of Thieves.
For those of you that were unlucky enough to miss the boat on both the alpha and beta for Sea of Thieves, it’s an online swashbuckling pirate adventure by English developer Rare. The release date is in March this year and so far, it’s shaping up to be a pirates life for me. Let me start telling you about the game by introducing you to Greasy Graeme the pirate… take it away Greasy…
Aye, let me tell you about the time I started a war! Well, maybe not a war, but I’m not about to let the truth get in the way of a good tale! I was merrily carrying my not-so-buried treasure back to the ship when I spied a mangy cur on the horizon. Aye, twas a cur, or at least I had decided he was. No one comes within a hornswoggling distance of me gold and lives to tell the tale. Straight to the cannons I went, to blow the man down and send him straight to Davy Jones’ locker.
Now you know I always pay close attention to what I’m doing. You know that. Only this time I had a bit too much grog and was three shots to the wind, so I accidentally climbed inside the cannon. By the time the captain realised what was happening and shouted not to shoot, it was too late. The fuse was lit and there was no stoppin it. A flash and a bang later and I was soaring through the air like an albatross above the waves, straight at the scallywag, only I flew straight over his head and into the drink, with a huge splash, big enough to stir the kraken from the depths.
You best believe I swam faster than a shark after a seal after that! I dodged his canons, climbed back on board and bombarded him with cannon balls. Aye, he met a cold and dark end, but not before almost sinking our ship. No one gets the better’ me!
Thanks Greasy, a fine tale. Not quite as I heard the captain tell it, but the part about you shooting yourself out a canon and starting a fight are true enough. Now get outta here… If you hadn’t noticed, this a game that will make you want to tell stories. Grog fueled pirate ones!
In Sea of Thieves, you play a buccaneer and man a ship that you use to explore the high seas and hunt for adventure, gold and more notoriety than Jack Sparrow. Like any good pirate, you have a to manage your ship well, including raising the sails, anchors and actually piloting the vessel, not to mention occasionally (and by that I mean constantly) firing off one of your cannons at some would be treasure thieves.
The name of the game is gold, and it’s attained through either signing up for voyages and hunting for buried treasure, or just attacking fellow treasure hunters and making off with their precious plunder. You exchange chests for gold, which are in turn used to buy better voyages or can be spent on buying items. As you complete voyages, you also rank up with the gold nosed voyages vendor. Supposedly in the full game, after ranking up to a certain point, you’ll be able to pick up epic voyages that could yield unique gear. Here’s hoping!
You have the option of playing solo or teaming up with one, or two other people and hunting for your buried treasure. Managing a ship by yourself is pretty difficult, so going solo like pirate legend Jason Derulo is probably not the best idea until you’re a pirate veteran yourself.
Reason #1 to play Sea of Thieves: It’s so much fun.
I burst out laughing a few times while playing Sea of Thieves. The games’ cartoony arcade nature, brilliant emotes and humorous style all lend themselves to some hilarious moments. I mean, where else do you get to fire yourself from a canon?
Speaking of canons… “Remember that time when I shot myself at that other ship and landed it?”. “Remember when we snuck on board that ship, stole their treasure, got away and got eaten by sharks?”. I feel like the statement “Remember when…” will be used a lot when speaking about Sea of Thieves in the months to come. The caveat here is that you really need to play with other people. I played the game solo and I played with two pick up groups and had ten times the fun when I was playing with other salty sea dogs.
Aside from the hijinks, the game plays really smoothly. Despite this being a beta, I didn’t come across any noticeable bugs. The weapons are fun and responsive; navigating the ship is challenging (especially in a storm) and completing the quests takes a bit of actual thought if you’ve got a riddle to complete.
Last but not least, the game gave me a real sense of exploration. I’m pretty sure all kids dream of buried treasure at some point and the game manages to conjure up that childhood dreams and make me wonder whats around the next corner, over the next ridge and in the next cave. All in all, incredibly fun.
Reason #2 to play Sea of Thieves: It’s beautiful.
This is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played. Yes it’s cartoony, but the team at Rare have managed to pull off some serious magic with both the water and lighting effects. This makes the game incredibly atmospheric, which elicits an emotive, rather than logical response. The sunsets are warm and happy. The moonlight is cool and calming. The thunderstorms… Well firstly, fuck the thunderstorms… but they are brooding and ominous. True to form for a thunderstorm.
The magic doesn’t stop with the visuals, as the sound is equally impressive when it comes to creating the atmosphere. The sounds in the game are all on point, from canon fire to creaking floor boards, but my favourite has to be the collection of musical instruments you have to make pirate music. Play by yourself and you get a nice pirate jig. Team up with others and your little jig grows into a pirate score that creates a beautiful backdrop to the games’ already stunning visuals.
One other thing worth mentioning is how good a job Rare have done with the ultrawide support for the game. Trust me, it’s a poor substitute, but here are a few screenshots to show you what you have to look forward to.
Reason #3 to play Sea of Thieves: Pirates
Who doesn’t want to be a pirate!? Drinking grog, fighting skeletons, shooting canons… More importantly, this game offers up a very different experience to anything else I’ve played in the past while. The sense of adventure and exploration I looked for in No Man’s Sky, I’ve found in Sea of Thieves and I’m excited about what I’ll find in the full game.
The ship of things to come: Suggestions to Rare for the full game.
By this point, it’s clear that I love Sea of Thieves. I do however have a few things I’d like to share with Rare that I’d love to see happen. They’re all in a similar vein around player retention. Treat the game like an MMO, add more RPG elements and give us reasons to keep coming back to this beautiful watery world, time and time again.
#1 Epic Loot
Please please please make sure there is some epic loot to be found with unique abilities. I love the items so far, but give us something truly exciting to discover! I’ve already outlined how much I love that the game evokes a sense of wonder and curiosity, but I can just imagine discovering some real buried treasure…
#2 Ship upgrades & bases
I’m not sure how feasible this is, but I’d really like to see upgrades to ships. This could either be quick upgrades to things like canons or durability that only last for that game, or they could be unlockable bonuses that your character brings with to each game. In addition to this, I’d love to see bases in the future. Perhaps a different server/game mode that even has the ability for clans? I’m thinking full on war on the high seas, or the opportunity to sneak into an opposing stronghold and steal their treasure.
#3 Random in game events
Still in line with wonderment and discovery, I’d love it if there are seasonal changes to the game, like during Christmas, everything is decked out in decorations and you have specific timed events. Secondly and more importantly, I think random, interesting events would be amazing. These could range from finding a message in a bottle that gives you an epic quest; to the odd treasure chest floating around; to well protected undead ships roaming around with some serious treasure on board. Maybe even the odd vanishing island or sea monster 🙂 You get the point.