Sea Of Thieves Review
by Colm Morrisey
I initially went into Sea of Thieves with absolutely no hype and knowing only that it was a pirate adventure game for the Xbox One. At first, this game blew me back with colourful environments and teamwork that really meant something again in a triple-A console game. A few hours in, however, this giant ocean of a game that I had jumped head first into was nothing less than a shallow puddle that left me disappointed and frustrated.
The first thing to be said about Sea of Thieves is that it’s a multiplayer game. Don’t let any marketing or articles tell you otherwise. You cannot and will not have any sort of fun in this game by playing alone. You’re going to need at the very minimum one other buddy to play this game with.
The first time I loaded into this game and indeed, any game of this genre I expected a character customisation screen where you make a character as serious or as goofy looking as you want and in a weird way grow an attachment with this character. Well Sea of Thieves decided that character customisation is so totally 2005 and decided to do this weird hybrid where it gives you preset characters and makes you choose one? I honestly wouldn’t mind this if you weren’t able to roll again and randomise the characters to get one closer to what you’re looking for which clearly shows that they were not too far off getting conventional character customisation goingThis leaves players to only ever get a character they’re kinda sorta okay with but never really go “Yeah that’s my character”.
After I picked my sorta okay character I expected an introduction to quests and a weapon or something. Listen I’m not a big fan of these basic tutorials that just give the player a text box and have them learn how to walk and look but I was so genuinely confused for about my first forty minutes of gameplay. I was sailing to islands with no quest or knowledge how to get a quest. I had figured out the ins and outs of the boat mechanics before I had a reason to get on my boat. I understood what Rare wanted to do. They wanted it to feel like classic Banjo or Conker in how there was no set objective from the start but this straight up doesn’t work like that for a game with all these menus and things to learn.
However, after those two small mishaps, I finally felt like I was on my way to becoming some pirate that digs up treasure and fights other pirates and well, I was. For a good few hours after this I enjoyed myself, I had a few friends in the crew with me and we went on one of the three types of quests that are offered and we had genuine fun with the game. Using teamwork to work the ship and as we played I found we were getting better at our roles on the ship. We were all levelling up and getting a steady amount of gold. Then the next day was more or less the same thing, and the next day, and the next. The charm, colours and fun we were having with this game soon began to wear off and we were faced with the reality that this was the whole game. There were three different types of enemies in the game (not including minute variations in the skeleton enemy), three different forms of quests that were the exact same every time only on different islands. It finally dawned on me that Sea of Thieves was nothing special and followed the same beats as many triple A games in the industry at the moment. Game is in development for years, game builds up hype, game gets released and turns out there’s not much to do in the game and the developer promises that more is getting added even though you’ve already paid €70 for it.
I tried to stick with it but I only found more problems in this game when I did. The combat in this game is some of the weakest I’ve seen in a long time. It follows the recipe of the exact same two or three enemies throughout the whole game except in certain areas they have stronger health. I wouldn’t even mind the stronger health much if I had any way to upgrade my character. In an attempt to keep the game fair and balanced Rare didn’t include any sort of upgrade system that wasn’t purely cosmetic. I never felt like I was going anywhere or one day the enemies that hastled me were going to be laughably easy.
In this way, and in many other ways Sea of Thieves is stuck with its anchor down and no way of raising it. Once you begin playing you can’t truly progress and any sort of charm you had at the start quickly fades into a bleak and repetitive grind that doesn’t even have a purpose.
SEA OF THIEVES: 2/5