April 09, 2018

Sea Of Thieves - Review

So it wouldn't be a review of Sea of Thieves without starting with a yarrrrrrr. I had been hooked since playing the open beta and grinding away at slaying the skeletons, killing sharks and generally being the king of the high seas.

Then, as the final beta was released there were changes again. The shark spawn rate had been reduced and various other components had been tweaked which made it feel like a vastly different game. This left my excitement build more and more for the games full release.

I then spent hours convincing friends to get the game, especially those with an Xbox to get the Game Pass and take advantage of the cross-platform experience. Sea of Thieves is one to be enjoyed with friends, the solo experience is still fantastic but you really make the most out teaming up and introducing a bit of role play into your game play.

The choice between the two ships available is highly important. The sleek and speedy sloop is designed for those who want to jump on with one friend and it's easy manoeuvrability makes it great to zip around and complete the various missions with a faster pace. If you're playing with over two players then the galleon is for you. This sturdy, larger ship requires a lot more co-ordination and effort to sail. The sloop is quite easy to manoeuvre the sails and determine your course, but with the galleon you have three sails that need constant adjustment and communication between the crew and helmsman is vital.

Once you have your crews sailing rigour under control, it's time to determine what you're going to do. With the choices available to complete missions, go to war with skeletons with the skull events or just simply set out to attack other ships and pillage them for their hard earned loot. I had noticed the crews out there already hitting level 50 for each of their levels and I was curious how. With the standard 3 mission types to choose from I was really enjoying the choice but I was not levelling up quick enough. You have the ability to choose from seeking out chests from treasure maps, killing hoards of skeletons and defeating the Captain to obtain their skull or just simply supporting the island industry by collecting chickens, pigs or snakes.

The most time consuming and riskiest mission is the skull events. Every so often a giant skull cloud appears in the sky over a fort or keep signalling the beginning of an event. Once you make the mad dash to the designated island it's time to begin slashing and shooting your way through the waves of the different skeleton breeds. From the standard slasher to the armoured shooter you need to continually heal up, lure and defeat every single one to finally get to the fort Captain. Once annihilated you receive a key which opens a treasure trove of loot hidden away on the island. The downside to being engrossed with constantly destroying the skulls of the undead is that other players can creep up on the same island and take you out. I learned this the hard way, with another sloop timing their arrival perfectly when we had opened the vault and stared at the beauty of the bounty inside.

Players will also be able to change up how their character and their ship looks, with a range of upgrades in shops on the outpost islands. The strange thing is, not a single item you can buy, changes any aspect of the game, each and every item is purely cosmetic. There will surely be some people who are upset by this, given how other games behave, but as you never know what other types of players are in the world with you, having someone being able to shoot you from a distance, while you are digging up some treasure would be a pain. I would have like to have seen some different emotes though, if you are all decked out in one type of gear, a special emote for that would have been nice, but oh well.

Aside from the missions I must talk about the gameplay and controls itself. I had begun to tire of games that put you through a rigorous training or introduction mission as if I'm a baby that has no clue about the video game world. Sea of Thieves is built in a way that not only does it not have one, but it also does not require one. The mechanics of sailing the ship are so simple that you're just dropped into the world and left to fend for yourself. The weapon aim capabilities are very smooth with the only difficulty using the sniper rifle and it's scope. With a slow movement when scoped it allows players on PC and Xbox to have an even playing field and not being at a disadvantage for using a controller over a keyboard and mouse.

Finally, how can I write a review of this game without commenting on the visuals. Even with it's tie into the cartoon style character world, this game is still beautiful. I could spend days at sea just sailing and staring at the ocean move. The amount of time invested into making the ocean look as incredible as possible must be staggering. I'll be honest, in the beginning of play I was feeling a little motion sickness from being out there because it felt so real. I believe that the video game world is evolving into more of a place where the aethetics are so vital to game, not only for the world but the characters too. The amount of character customisation is a fantastic with the ability to get peg legs, hooks and awesome items of clothing is quite awesome. Althought these don't offer any tactical advantage, it's still briliant to be able to customise as you increase your bank of gold coins.

Before signing off I'm incredibly excited for the future of this game and where the developers are potentially going to take it. Rare have been incredible transparent with their content plans, outage timeframes and taking on feedback from the community to install patches. I hope the longevity of this game is along the lines of GTA because I don't want to put it down. But for now I say avaste ye scurvy dog and I will see you out on the open ocean to do battle!

Review copy provided by Microsoft

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