Sea of Thieves Xbox One Review

As a young child I always wanted to explore the seas and be the captain of the ship and make my younger brother walk the plank.  Whether it was the freedom to do what I wanted or to seek treasures and jewels from lands once forgotten, the desire to be a pirate was always strong.  Sea of Thieves is all about the pirate life and it’s up to you as to what type of pirate you want to be.

Gameplay

Sea of Thieves has been developed by studio Rare who have been known for some of the greatest games of all time for which many of us have fond memories of.  Since becoming part of Microsoft they haven’t really had much to sink their teeth into aside from Avatars and Kinect based games, however Sea of Thieves was their chance to do what they always wanted to do.  And here we are after a long journey; Rare has created Sea of Thieves which is essentially an open world player versus player (PVP) adventure where you are a pirate on the hunt for treasures and more.

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Sea of Thieves doesn’t exactly hold your hand during the initial stages of the game or in fact in general.  There is no tutorial mode at all to show you the ropes so to speak and aside from some text dialogue with the various traders and shop keepers you are left to your own devices to explore and figure things out.  For myself personally I had no trouble finding my way around however that was due to my participation in the alpha, beta and other stress tests over the past year so I was well accustomed to the controls.  However, new players may feel left on their own literally as they figure out what it is exactly they are supposed to be doing.

Your goal in Sea of Thieves can be anything you want within reason.  You can simply sail the seven seas seeking out other ships and exploring islands at will, or you can engage in a firefight with every Galleon or Sloop that crosses your path.  For me personally, my first port of call was to join each of the various trading companies and start to build some respect as a pirate.  Sea of Thieves currently offers three trading companies to join, the first is the Gold Hoarders who are obsessed with treasure chests and will provide you a handsome sum of gold for each chest you find.  Next are the Merchant Alliance who will send you on various quests armed with chicken coops and pig cages seeking out animals and other items from across the lands.  However don’t be late otherwise you won’t collect that handsome sum of money for your efforts.  Finally there is the Order of Souls whom are very interested in collecting the skulls of fallen pirates.  Seeking these pirates out if you can find them will also nett you a healthy reward. 

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As you begin to build your respect and level within each trading company you will then begin to receive bigger and more challenging missions with greater rewards.  However the issue that you may find is the repetitiveness of the mission types.  Go here, find this treasure, sail back, rinse and repeat with on a different island.  For some this can be repetitive but for others it can be quite fun and the key here is exploration.  You need to search for the various islands and locations and not all maps and treasures are easy to find.  As you progress within each trading company you can unlock better items such as torches, shovels and more. However the biggest downside to Sea of Thieves is the fact that all your upgrades are purely cosmetic.  Hence all your grinding and hard work essentially gets you the exact same item with a slightly different look.  I understand Rare wanted to level the playing field so no one has an advantage over another person and this does come with the territory, but the rewards feel pointless.  Even simple things like your telescope, why can’t the upgrades offer better long distance sight or even a brighter torch?  Perhaps the shovel can dig faster if you upgrade it?  These are not major game changes but still something that seems to be a missed opportunity by Rare.

Ship Battle

Sea of Thieves at its core is a player vs player game or PVP for short.  You cannot play Sea of Thieves on a solo server or even offline and explore till your heart is content.  You need to be in the world with other players and with that comes risks and rewards.  For some, the risk of being attacked by a Galleon and having your treasure stolen is a big possibility, in fact its encouraged.  Plundering other pirates ships and looting their treasure is part of the game and can be fun, scary and also challenging and rewarding.  Many players have begged Rare for safe zones around the world to combat pirates who are out for your treasure, however no such safe zones exist.  I acknowledge this point however I do agree with Rare that this is what makes the experience what it is. You need to be on your guard at all times, you need a plan for returning your treasure and a team that will help you do it.

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Sea of Thieves offers so much more than just pleasing the various trading companies.  As mentioned earlier you can sail and explore till your hearts content and may even come across the dreaded cracken that will consume your ship in moments if you don’t fight and try to survive.  Also there are ship wrecks to explore around the world for hidden gold and other rare items, not to mention the amazing Skeleton Forts that appear in the distance marked by a large cloud skull with glowing green eyes.  These can be quite difficult to beat as not only is it you that’s drawn towards the Skeleton Fort, but an array of other players who are also converging on the fort as well. Do you work together and share the loot or kill every pirate in sight? It’s up to you here. As you sail around the various islands there are also messages in bottles scattered on the shores containing more maps and missions for you to explore, but watch out for the giant storm that’s brewing on the horizon.

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As for the negative points with Sea of Thieves I must mention that during my game play time I had a solid experience however there were server issues preventing gamers from joining and receiving rewards for their hard work both in terms of gold and achievements.  These issues are part and parcel with any new game, however with an entirely online game these can alienate your players especially when you purchase a new game and cannot play due to server load or those servers being offline which is exactly what has happened this week.

Graphics & Sound

Visually Sea of Thieves is simply gorgeous from the colourful islands to the detailed ships, Sea of Thieves truly impresses.  Cartoony it may seem, but detailed and full of life the environments surely be.  The ocean in Sea of Thieves is the best ocean I’ve ever seen in a video game with some absolutely amazing water physics at play here. From the calm tropical waters to the deep blue sea, high waves and rough seas, there is no denying that it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen.  The whole visual experience with Sea of Thieves is simply fantastic and everything that is presented in the world is done so with pride and it shows. The only negative can be some of the deep underwater areas and some parts of the night where lighting is minimal and things can be a little dark.

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Overall

Sea of Thieves is a fantastic title that Rare should be extremely proud of.  If you have ever wanted to be a pirate then you have come to the right place.  Sure, some of the missions may be a little repetitive and the lack of a PVP upgrade system may annoy some, but there is an absolute stack of things to do in Sea of Thieves and with the future road map for downloadable content and other missions it will surely be able to compete in the online space for a while to come.  See you on the seas fellow pirate, but stay away from my treasure!

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Thank you to Microsoft for providing a copy of Sea of Thieves for review purposes.

Sea of Thieves is also free as part of Xbox Game Pass, so why not join up for a free 14 day trial?
Sea of Thieves is also a cross play title, so you can play on both Xbox One and Windows PC’s

Written by

Paul Barbara

I've been an avid gamer since I was 5 and owned almost all systems possible in that time. I love podcasting, having produced over 280 episodes over the last 7 years and I get a real buzz out of discussing all this gaming news with other gamers. So tune in!

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