When Sea of Thieves was first shown off a lot of people, myself included were confused, it was a pirate game about friendship, amongst other things. Last year it was hands on at E3, but unless you played it, there was still confusion about it, however this year, I was finally able to get my own time with the game and I came away impressed.
It is important for me to start off by saying that I don’t play a lot of multiplayer games, I just don’t have the time for them, you either need to sink dozens of hours to level up to a point where it is fun, or you need to have all your mates link up at the same time in order to play together. Given the way that Sea of Thieves has been pushing the shared world experience, I was hesitant to give it ago, though after playing it, I understand the appeal. When I joined in, I was with two other media people and one of the designers from Rare and, the developer suggested that the first thing we do is all have a nice drink of some grog. we had a riddle which was going to lead us to treasure, so we jumped onto the ship and off we went.
As there were four of us on the ship, we each had a role to play, but there are no pre-assigned roles, if you want to jump on and then climb right up to the crow’s nest you can do that, or if you are like me and wanted to steer the ship, then you can do that as well. In order for us to set sail though, one crew member needed to drop the sails, another dropped the forward sails and then the two of them together raised up the anchor and with that, we were away. The only issue I had in steering the large ship, is I could not see through the sails, where in other ship based games, the sail becomes transparent so you can see through it, here you are reliant on your fellow crew mates helping you out. While one of them ran below deck to check the map to see if we were heading in the right direction, the crow’s nest lookout was helping me steer. Eventually, we did spot land and we came in nice and close, dropped the anchor and then headed to land.
Upon land, while I went around scavenging for any supplies that I could find, two of the others tried to solve the riddle, while the final member of our party stayed close to the ship, until we were close enough to the gold. Once located, we all hightailed it back and then we were ready to set sail for our next adventure, we picked an island that was rumoured to have a good amount of treasure to plunder, so with our destination in mind and the direction set, we raised the anchor, unfurled he sails and set off, except we did not. For some reason, we ended up running right into the island we had just stepped off, as when we came in earlier, we were so fast that the anchor took a moment to stop us, when it did though, we were able to get on our way, but not after a good solid 5 minutes of back and forth in direction, turning the sails into the wind and away from it and just about everything else we could think of, not even the developer from Rare had seen a ship get stuck that good.
Finally though, we were on our way, so we headed to the next island, though before we did, we had the choice to make, we had found a rare chest on the previous one, which meant it was likely filled with some good loot. We could keep it with us, or take it back to our hideout and store it there, if we did that, it would have taken time away from our next quest, though if we were sunk, boarded or otherwise destroyed with it still on board, we would have lost it. It is a balance of risk vs reward, but also with the addition of time thrown in and while we decided to just go for it this time, I could imagine having a lot of booty on board might be cause for more discussion in the future. Eventually we made it to the next island and this time, we stayed a good distance from land with the ship, no catching us out twice, but with the distance that we were from the ship, it was decided that launching ourselves from the cannons was the best way to get onto land quickly, so I jumped in first, one of my fellow crew members aimed the cannon and then I was off. However, thanks to the arc that I took, I actually overshot the entire island landing in the water on the other side, so after swimming back up to land, we met up in the middle and then went hunting.
While our time was running out, we were able to discover one of the final chests, sadly though, our time ended before we could locate any of the others. What I walked away from is that if and this is the big if, if you can find some people to play with, that you can enjoy the game with, then Sea of Thieves is going to be one incredible game next year. If though, you either can’t play with your mates or get stuck with a group that just does not want to work together, you might find yourself heading for a long walk of a short plank.