I got drunk and threw up on my brother — in a video game. Rated T for Teens and developed by Rare, on March 20, 2018, Sea of Thieves was released. On the afternoon of the game’s release, I got a call from my brother Jim asking me to go buy it and play it with him. That night my twin, my brother, and I logged on to venture as pirates in this new world. From stunning visuals to open-ended gameplay, Sea of Thieves is a strong start in their quest to be a ten-year franchise, but, as is the case with all ambitious undertakings, the game also has its limitations.
Sea of Thieves is completely open-ended. There are several gameplay aspects which make this title enjoyable. Cross-platform playability allows you to enjoy the game with your closest friends, regardless of console preferences. (XBOX. ALL THE WAY.) This presents you with the ability to build your go-to team easily and get the most out of your game play experience. With Sea of Thieves, Rare has granted you the freedom to do whatever you please in a way that truly immerses you in the gameplay narrative: play an instrument, get drunk on your ship or in the tavern, acquire messages in bottles to search for treasure or pieces you can sell for gold, sail to a skeleton fort with a skull-adorned passageway to grab some badass treasure, or embark on quests from three in-game factions. Be wary that if you do find one of those messages in a bottle, you have to complete it before you log out or you will lose the message. This is somewhat frustrating since you can’t just quit the game to come back and still have it, but more or less still a cool detail that can make the gameplay even more rewarding.
You have the choice of accepting quests from any of the three factions: the Order of the Souls, the Merchants Alliance, or the Gold Hoarders. The Order of Souls takes you to various islands obliterate waves of animated skeletons that end up with one or more captains to kill. The Merchants Alliance has you making deliveries or going to trap chickens or pigs in crates — a pain in the ass, really, but still fun; chickens totally freak out when they’re in a crate underwater. And don’t forget to feed your animal friends with a banana! The Gold Hoarders send you on treasure hunts. I personally have been doing a lot of the Order of the Souls quests, as I like killing the “skellies.”
Each quest allows you to level up, which allows you to get better quests that you eventually have to pay for. You’ll appreciate the sheer size of this game as higher-up quests take you farther and farther away to explore the open world. The ultimate goal is to level your character to Legendary Pirate status; this grants you access to a secret pirate hideout, the Tavern of Legends! I find this goal to be rare and unique in the world of gaming. It gives the game that definition that I felt was needed when realizing how the game operates. A secret location? Fuck yeah!
The detail to every possible element in this game is critical to its playability. You may not be able to really level your character in the ways you would expect from other games with a leveling component, but you can get new weapons, clothing, and even upgrade your toolkit. Get the Sovereign outfit and have an accordion to match or even a bucket! Rare is on point with its attention to detail, something I love as a photographer.
You can sail the sloop — and I recommend using this with just one or two players, or you can sail in a galleon — a completely customizable galleon, I might add — with three or more players. You do everything required when actually sailing, from adjusting sails, steering the ship, running down to check the map, looking out for other galleons or sloops, repairing your ship when necessary, and getting your handy bucket to empty out water to keep from sinking. The winds change, which is yet another engaging element of game play. You could be on course to your destination with speed, but then the winds change to coming straight at you and you end up inching across the sea. Although it can be frustrating to be so close, yet so far, again, this is another realistic detail that makes this title as much of an experience as it is a game.
By the way, if you die, you get on the Ferry of the Damned, including a ghost captain. Rare, I commend you on your details!
As of right now, there are no levels gained in terms of combat, which leads to a sluggish use of weapons. Another frustrating aspect is that you have five bullets you can carry with you at a time. If you run out, you either have to use your sword or restock back on your ship, which could be on the other side of whatever island you docked on. The thing here is that all the players in this game are completely equal. Instead of relying upon virtual agility or strength, it is entirely up to you as a player to use your skill to defeat skeletons or other players and develop a strategy that works for you — a unique and fresh approach to game play that I welcome, no matter how frustrating it can be at times. Three gun choices are provided to you as well as a cutlass. The blunderbuss and pistol offer the ability for close range fighting, while the sniper rifle gives you the option of ranged combat, like shooting people on their ship while you remain safely on yours.
Another issue I have is that when you die, there’s virtually no penalty other than time to portal through back to your ship. You spawn back on your ship with full health, five bullets, and the ability to easily kill those players that probably killed you in the first place. And oh yeah, they probably already stole your shit! At one point, we killed all members of another ship, stole their shit, and even their ship, but they spawned back! How is that fair? If I stole your ship, you shouldn’t be able to spawn back on it! What if I’m the only one on the damn ship? I’m dead unless I can manage to get back to my own. Just seems like a faulty situation here.
There are several exciting upcoming things to look out to look out for; Rare’s quest for a ten-year franchise is certainly attainable. Public events will allow several ships to go on the same quest, like taking on the infamous Kraken. Timed events are also a thing. When you log in or go to the tavern, you may just come across a new NPC offering new quests, but make sure you complete the quest quickly or you lose the reward! Rare may even be adding more dynamics such as fishing and new trading companies. A new secret group is coming too! Who could they be? There will also be a premium shop that will not offer any weapons or clothing that will upgrade you, but it will have virtual pets! There had better be a parrot. Rare has also announced that they plan to add more ship options to the mix. Expect a possible Man-o-war soon — super excited about this one! And apparently, Banjo Kazooie is an easter egg in the game… clever clever.
All in all, I feel as though Sea of Thieves is going to go quite far. With some necessary fine-tuning on the combat/weapon system, and this will be definitely be on my list of favorites. If you enjoy an open-ended world, limitless choices in game play, and an on the rise system, I recommend you check out Sea of Thieves today!
Add me (Jenna) at Jennagirlsnaps and Amy at spacecadetamy on Xbox and play it with me, y’all!
Jenna and Amy Play is a new biweekly series where Jenna Madonia (photographer) and Amy Yaboa (Dick Titty Blood Punch) team up to review a video game. Have a suggestion on a game you’d like them to review? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.