This game has taken the gaming community by storm thanks to its successful betas and popularity with Twitch streamers, although there are certainly a few question marks surrounding how much content it really has to offer for its £50 price tag. From what we’ve seen, Sea of Thieves has a decent base concept but it’s also lacking in a number of areas. Is this game really worth the money and does it offer enough content to keep people engaged?
The first two hours of Sea of Thieves starts off quite strong. The beginning of the game has you exploring different islands as you find treasure chests, capture animals and face off against skeletons. These three quests represent the majority of what you actually do in the game at the moment, and no, this is not an exaggeration. There are some variables, for instance, you may be told to go to a different island depending on your quest, but other than that everything is largely the same. Everything that takes place after your first two hours of the game is roughly the same thing, only repackaged as a new quest.
Okay, well, so what if the quests are repetitive?… The rewards must be good, surely? Unfortunately, Rare has taken the concept of progression and has thrown it out the window. There’s no way to upgrade your character or your ship, instead you upgrade the aesthetics of your character/ship. Digging up treasure with the default shovel is no faster than dropping 10,000 gold on a fancy shovel. The only difference is that you’ve spent hours doing boring quests in order to get that baller shovel.
Let’s get into some detail about each of the three main quests. We’ll start with the capturing animals one. At its core, the process of even beginning the mission is quite tedious: get the quest, go back to the ship to activate it, go back to the quest giver to get a single cage, go back to get another cage, then finally sail off.
The big problem with the animal quests is that the game doesn’t tell you where you can find these animals. Need chickens? We tried sailing to an island only to find there are no fucking chickens around. Sail to the next island, again, no chickens. One more island? NO CHICKENS. Finally we sail to Chicken Isle. I’ll let you guess what happened. The animals randomly spawn on each island, so if you think you saw a certain type of animal on one island, chances are it won’t be there when you next sign in.
Another issue that makes this quest all the more infuriating is that your character cannot carry the cages on them like they do with every other item in the inventory. I can fit a bucket in my pocket but I can’t keep a cage in there? The cages also stop you from blasting out of the cannons or sprinting, wasting even more of your time. Oh, and each cage is unique depending on the animal you are told to capture, so that’s even more inconvenient.
Then you’ve got the combat quests which have you taking down waves of skeletons. It’s unbelievable that someone at Rare thought the combat was good enough to base an entire line of quests on it. Seriously, look at this. You click on skeletons until they die and occasionally you fire your gun because that deals a bit more damage. The combat is weak to say the least and you can imagine how fun it is when you’re engaging in a PvP encounter.
Arguably the best quests in the game are the buried treasure quests where you have to find an island then work out exactly where the treasure is on said island. The buried treasure quests do not tell you where the islands are, forcing you to locate them on the map. This isn’t particularly fun to do as the map is large and the islands are small. The game also makes you backtrack to the same few islands very early on, which seems a bit lazy considering how large the map actually is. These quests were fun to do initially, but after doing four of them the appeal quickly wears off and you’re basically just going through the motions.
Something we really don’t understand is why you are unable to do multiple quests at once. You need to catch some animals? Cool. Do that while you are trying to kill the skeleton bosses or finding hidden quests. You are on the island anyway,so you might as well make the most of your time there. Instead, Rare have opted for the option that wastes as much time as possible. If you don’t waste your time in Sea of Thieves, you are actively putting yourself in danger. In order to complete your quests, you have to go to an Outpost to hand in your collected treasure. Leaving treasure on your boat while doing other quests makes you a target to other players because your treasure can be stolen at any time.
As we’ve said many times, the quests in this game suck. Thankfully, there is a way to quickly amass crazy amounts of gold without having to do any of the hard work yourself. The PvP side of Sea of Thieves actively encourages players to stalk other groups on the sea in hopes that they are carrying lots of treasure. One tactic players have been doing is hanging around Outposts in hopes of stealing from other groups. The only thing a group of players can do if they see troll pirates at an Outpost is to sail to another in hopes that they won’t be pillaged.
I can already hear people complaining: “PvP is part of the game, you need to git gud”.
Nope, fuck this game. You want to win at PvP? Get four people together and be somewhat coordinated. Pick a boat on the sea and start blasting it with cannonballs. Steal the chests that they worked for and claim them at an Outpost. What do you get for all your pillaging? Gold. Have fun spending that gold to play dress up with your character. Fuck that and fuck you.
Another thing that seems like a waste of time is attempting to play the PvP as a duo. If you happen to run into other players (which honestly appears to be much rarer than it seems), you will almost certainly lose if you are fighting against a group of four competent players. Bigger boats with more people mean you will lose fights unless you choose to run away. Yes, there have been instances where a duo have managed to take down a full squad, but these moments are extremely rare and this usually takes a long period of time thanks to the dreadful respawn system, which spawns players way too close to the island that they just died at.
Attempting to play this game as a solo player is probably one of the worst experiences I’ve had in gaming. Every single aspect of this game has been designed with co-op in mind, so don’t bother trying to play it on your own.
Sea of Thieves, at its core, is an early access game with a retail game’s price tag. As more content is released, we’re sure that the game will become a more viable option for the money however, in its current state, we cannot recommend it. There were plenty of moments where we were enjoying ourselves early on, however these moments were short lived as the quests quickly felt stale and monotonous. Sea of Thieves has the potential for exciting moments with a crew of friends as well as relaxing voyages on your own however, it doesn’t offer enough variety to keep players from disengaging quickly.
We’re interested to see what Rare will add to the game to keep players interested. So far, they’ve mentioned the addition of pets, more options for Pirate Legends (such as new merchants, trading posts, and trading companies) and timed events, but we’re unsure whether these things will be enough to entice players to keep booting the game up. On the plus side, we are sure Sea of Thieves 2 is going to be sick when that comes out in like five years.