I heard all of the excitement surrounding Sea of Thieves and I felt as though this would be the game for me. I don’t know why, but I think my favorite aspect of Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag was the sailing. The idea that you can just be out in the water and discover new things at any point in time seemed pretty cool to me. This was the major draw for me when it came to Sea of Thieves. I just wish that it had more. I wanted to buy this game the moment that it came out, but my wife (who is very smart and write about most things) encouraged me to save my money and buy something that I know that I am going to love before I spend my money on something that I am not too sure about. I agreed (reluctantly) and set out with the rest of my day. During my break at work, I read that I could actually play the game for free if I had an Xbox Game Pass. Seeing as I had a free trial of the Game Pass in my possession after buying an Xbox One X, my spirits were lifted and I felt as if I had cheated the system. Yeah! Screw you common sense saving!
Sea of Thieves is created by Rare and was released on the Xbox March 20, 2018. Its designed as a multiplayer sea adventure set in a fictional world. Understanding the aspect of a multiplayer game, it would make sense that this game would only be enjoyable if you were playing with some of your friends. However, my friends have families and are not willing to just spend money on a game that they know nothing about. They are what I call sensible adults, mortgage holders, and quitters.
So I started up the game for the first time, on my own, and tried to see if I could convince them that this is the game for all of us to play on a weekend.
Right off the bat, you are asked to select a pirate that will be your avatar for the rest of the game. We have all played games before, we understand this next part. However, the game throws a curve ball by not letting you create your own, rather, they have you choose from randomly generated models of pirates. This took me awhile because I was not feeling any of the choices that they were giving me. After switching through various models, I finally chose one that I felt ok with and set off on my adventure….too the loading screen. The game attempted to find a server and eventually timed out. I re-launched the search and that one timed out. So, before giving up hope of playing it last night, I closed the game and launched it in the hopes that it was just a hiccup. And wouldn’t you know, that did just the trick. A little annoying, but not enough to deter me. After all, I had a point to prove.
The game eventually opened up and I was standing in the middle of a building. I waited for a while in the hopes that I would be prompted as to what I should do. However, a Morgan Freedmen like voice never came and I slowly realized that this would be another game where I have to figure out everything on my own…(the soap box is coming. Just give me a minute to lay out my experience)
After pressing some buttons and taking some time to figure out the controls, I realized that I was actually inside of a pub. I walked around and talked to the barkeep, as well as a mysterious stranger in the back of the bar, but found no information as to what it is I’m suppose to be doing. I ran outside and found a couple more random shops and random people to talk to. Some of them allowed me to buy Voyages off of them (I assumed these were like side quests or something). They also sold some equipment, but I would need to increase my rank with their faction in order to get the gear that they offered. So, simple gaming strategies came rushing back. Accepting quests+Finishing quests=Higher rank and better loot.
So with three quests in hand, I turned around and proceeded down towards the ocean. This is a pirate game so of course you would go to the ocean. I walked along the ocean and had a moment from one of my favorite movies. I stood in the sand, turning left and right, all the while wondering, “dude…where’s my boat?” After wondering around, I saw a small dock with only one boat. I assumed this was mine…but what if it wasn’t? What if taking this boat would mean that people would want to attack me? Screw it. I’m a pirate. I’ll just do some pirate like things and get out of it.
I hoped aboard and realized that this was the boat I was looking for and almost got a bit upset.
The next few minutes was spent trying to figure out exactly how the boat works and how I was going to be able to start the quest. I pressed every button that I could and eventually figured out that I needed to place the voyage on a table and have a one person vote on starting the mission. It was like I just learned of a quest, went to my ship, placed the request paper on a table, looked around at no one, as if there was going to be a debate, and eventually got word that I won the most rigged election. A map showed up into my inventory, which took me awhile to find, and I eventually got to work trying to look at the shape of the island that it was telling me to go to and comparing it with the main map on my boat. I shuffled through for a while and eventually found the island that I was looking for. I ran up top, released the anchor, lowered the sails, and was off on my adventure to…steal…dig up….not too sure. I know I had to get a chest, but I didn’t know why.
various sailing games prepared me for this next bit and it actually gave me a moment to really see the hard work that went into making this game. The ocean looked beautiful and the ship was surprisingly detailed.
As I made my way to the island, I had to run to the sails and raise them up to slow my self down. Then I had to turn the boat so that I didn’t run head first in to the island. Last, but not least, I had to lower the anchor so that my boat would leave me behind as I searched the island.
I jumped off the boat and made my way to shore. There were a couple of animals over the island, which felt kind of strange seeing as it was a very small island, but who am I to question our Lords creation? I eventually found the spot where I needed to dig and with a triumphant “thunk”, I realize that I struck gold. As I started to dig up my prize, I heard the sounds of enemies approaching me. I backed out of the digging and looked up just in time to see a skeleton running at me with a sword. Now, at this point I wasn’t sure if I had a weapon. I was trying to figure out how to equip a sword or something and just figured that I would get one for completing a quest. But as I was backing up from this monster, the spirit of PUBG came back to me and I pressed Y. A sword popped into my hands and as I was chopping up the skeleton, I literally exclaimed, “ahhhhhhhh”.
I dispatched with a few skeletons, grabbed my loot, and made my way for my ship. Luckily, they ended their pursuit and I was off to my next Voyage. The tasks got easier as I learned more and more about my ship and the controls of my pirate.
I eventually made it back to port, sold off all of my treasure, and then turned off my game. The idea of doing more of this by myself was just the right motivation that I needed to get an early nights sleep.
So what did I learn from my couple of hours with Sea of Thieves?
For one, it’s a game that teaches you nothing and expects you to learn everything by yourself.
And two, the game has no underlining story and expects you to create your own story.
I have a huge problem with developers that choose to do this with their games. In my opinion, this is just lazy. I play games in order to hear a good story and be entertained throughout the process. When I start-up a game, I expect to be given some type of direction as to the motivations of my situation. If I am going to sacrifice my time, I better be invested in whatever I am doing. It’s the same reason why I could not get into Bloodbourne or the Dark Souls series. A game that is built around the idea of you learning everything up front and they don’t even tell you why you are doing what you are doing just seems like they gave up mid way through making the game.
Its unfortunate, but I was really turned off by the notion that this is what the game was going to continue to be if I played by myself. I am hoping it will get better if I am playing with some people who I don’t mind having a conversation with. Hopefully I can convince some of my friends to spend the money on a Game Pass and we can just try it out for a little while….Oh snap…what if that is what Microsoft had planned this whole time???
So, what are your thoughts on Sea of Thieves? Have you played it or do you want to play it? If you have, and you like it, try to change my mind.