by Michael Speakman
Throughout my life I have always loved Pirates. Video games embracing this culture have always appealed to me. Games like Elder Scrolls Redguard, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and Pirates of the Caribbean Online have always found a soft spot in my heart . So it’s a “no brainer” for me to check out the latest game in the pirate genre, Sea of Thieves (Microsoft/Rare Studios MSRP #59.99 Xbox One/PC). A immersive online experience crafted by a legendary studio Rare (Killer Instinct, Conkers Bad Fur Day, Battletoads and Banjo-Kazooie) after years of working in relative obscurity developing smaller games and Kinect titles, Sea of Thieves represents a return by the studio to working on games that require a larger attention from gamers and the industry itself.
The game mechanics are simple: grab a voyage from one of the 3 factions: Merchant Alliance, Gold Hoarders or Order of Souls, Merchant Alliance specialize in goods like gathering chickens, pigs or snakes. Also you sell the random tea chests and gunpowder barrels there. Gold Hoarders are the treasure hunters. Get a treasure map to find treasure at the island it shows and sell the chest to them. And then my personal favorite, Order of Souls where you hunt undead pirates and sell their bounty skulls to. When you do voyages for each faction you rank up that faction the voyage is from. There is more to the game than just quests though.
There are player vs. player modes which do serve the game very well. You never know when you have a ship full of plunder and you get attacked, or u choose to launch yourself to their ship via cannon and plunder another ship. Each island is unique and you can find random treasure (like random chests tea chests and gunpowder barrels.) Some islands have caves to explore, shipwrecks hold some treasure and supplies, when a giant skull appears over a island in the sky a Raid is active where you fight waves of undead pirates. If you succeed the plunder can make you rich. There are outposts for getting faction voyages, customizing your pirate or ships, get new weapons or tools. Hang with your crew in the pub and have a tankard of ale. If the player survives the tests thrown at them they may even run unto beasts prompting the call “Release the Kraken!”
Sea of Thieves plays great and smoothly if servers are cooperating (which gets better by the day), Controls are mostly responsive whether steering the ship or fighting other pirates, extremely smooth. The sound of the sea, music or the roar of the Kraken gives you an authentic pirate experience. The game’s visuals represent the impaired vision of fog and poor weather as it can be murky with the islands at night and the look of the ocean, ships and enemies provide a cartoon-ish style reminiscent of current hits like Fortnite. The game has minor issues but nothing Rare cant fix.
All and all, it’s a fun game and will be so for years to come.There are some small issues plaguing the game on occasion like random server kick offs, game lag, voyage payments not appearing until you log back in and achievements not popping up as you earn them. Things hopefully Rare is working on hard to fix. Yes the game does have microtransactions but a lot of items in shops and shipyard are a tad overpriced but isn’t unobtainable. Not many issues in my book as Sea of Thieves provides a solid experience as there is a lot to do or see and do and it’s fun alone or with friends.