Sea of Thieves is without a doubt Swashbuckling, But would it be Enough?
It’s certainly not surprising which the mantra of “-but what can We do?” or variations thereupon, has lingered over Sea of Thieves as being a pungent-but-irremovable odor. While clearly there was always a strong case that there’d ended up a fair measure of intrigue established that Rare – proper Rare that may be, not Kinect Sports-shackled “Rare” – was cooking-up, prior to and also, since its reveal back at E3 2015 (which admittedly garnered a little bit of a deflated “eeeeeehhhhhh” reaction from this writer), details designed for its content, its progression, its finer details beyond a strange sample of footage but some rather unfunny plodding through voluntary player commentary, happen to be somewhat conserved. Objective purpose though; in the end, we both both know Microsoft need many of the good marketing they will get hold of if it is to supply Xbox a decent chance in 2018.
For someone that was in fact miffed about Rare going the way of a massively-multiplayer, online experience – and admittedly heralding a far lower standard of excitement as a result – end result, after the fair length of time at [virtual] sea in the closed beta, tend to be more upbeat. Albeit, still combined in different ways. Let’s start with the positives and work our way down: Sea of Thieves has a peculiar degree of charm to it. Perhaps not to ever exactly the same degree of colorful personality of previous titles, but subtly present nonetheless. Anyone who’s followed Rare for years will instantly recognize the quality of care and consideration to your details, both grand and minuscule in equal measure. The glare from the sun since you swim your way returning to your ship, the ruffle of paper since you scour your chartered map for that desired island to realize; even the way your on-board lanterns flicker and crackle because waves collide and risk snuffing from the flames.
Plus there is the workings and actual programming side within the ocean itself, specially the many different ways when the waves crash and tumble with regards to your ship. The textures and dynamics, where did they sway back and forth, sending a once calm voyage into potentially risky affairs; I’ve plenty to state with this feature alone, so I’ll get out during that at the moment. In terms of gameplay, wherein (least from the beta build) you could opt it alone, team up with another or join a party of 4, Sea of Thieves is actually a hands-on, labor-focused experience, stripping away all hereditary comforts with the interface like a mini-map or objective indicators alike and only more communicative and team-based, friends working together.
Perhaps a tutorial or two beforehand, randomly placed when you are amid one of the trading outposts upon booting up a whole new session. “SEAOFTHIEVESANDHERE’SANISLAND, GO!!” Ummmm-errrr, wait-what? Yes, it’s that sudden and without a map or instructor or type of indicator beforehand, the perplexing nature and seemingly deserted simplicity of the surroundings can feel as much like miscommunication as it may misunderstanding. There could very well be some means of narrative or cinematic oversight by which the beta hasn’t provided, but it really goes without saying that Sea of Thieves almost expects a lot for their starting players to merely just accept and tolerate.
But perhaps it’s this deliberate restriction that lends itself to some interesting interactions between players and novel utilization of player skills as a technique at working better together. As the skill at merely turning a map around to point out others sounds ridiculously basic, this is a clever come in context. A quick way to build bridges between similarly-plucked team-mates and superior incentivises Sea of Thieves’ core, principle lesson in working together. Granted the perk is proven moot when, upon agreeing on the particular voyage, you just get handed the exact same maps in your inventory, though the physicality of these interactivity in-game is welcome regardless. In relation to your ship, though, all hands are should certainly on deck. You will find sails to align and angle; potential hazards to flag and shout seem to the gamer steering the ship (whom, should the sails are positioned at entire can’t see where they’re steering, again an attractive nudging toward better relationships)-and if worse relates to worse, leaks to fix for those who collide. And even worse, cries of “FRAME-RATE!” — as I were forced to do anytime a teammate is barking compass directions nonetheless have no way to control the stuttering performance — once the game (on PC) decides to nose-dive from relatively stable 60FPS to, at its worst, the high-teens — the most notable drops occurring mostly sailing, relatively afar from shore.
Of course, the abundance of open water does inevitably lend itself to islands to end by and pillage — hearkening, needless to say, up to the more casual affairs of Wind Waker along with the game truly does share many similarities – obvious or otherwise, negative and positive. Howevere, if anything, Sea of Thieves reminds me way more of Jalopy – a fairly unexciting-yet-ironically-stimulating simulation of driving one’s car down a highway. And just like that game, likely to uncanny loft of satisfaction for sale inside mundane along with the repetitive. Particularly you’re sufficiently lucky to get land yourself which includes a crew just as focused as yourself…and not just there to troll or ruin the fun for everyone’s sake, which sadly me as well as a friend got merged with on our venturing for treasure. Disappointing because it is for quite a few to try out mutiny (albeit unintentionally) and ride your ship out of the island you’re stuck on, perhaps that’s just section of the general risk. Of course, it’s a game about pirates; similar to the Souls games, the anarchy and unruliness from the down to earth bleed fittingly in to the context of your premise.
And yet-as pleasing simply because it were to eventually get to grips together with the ship’s functions – jostling between management of the wheel and micro-managing of the sails, during solo sessions – or as enticing the subsequent island above would have been to make landfall over, it’s hard not to leave from Sea of Thieves and think: “OK-but what else there has to be?” Admittedly as the beta did restrict activities to purely seeking out treasure, to state greater “in-between” segments – the mundane segments as it were – confirmed to be the greater number of entertaining and/or insightful segments describes a worrying and (potentially) lacking hook that Sea of Thieves’ gameplay sorely needs.
I’m not suggesting there be an grind or loot-based collectathon (Rare certainly know how to do collectathons, but perhaps they best steer away from that concept for the present time) that hooks players into getting better/faster/stronger/more resilient, but most of all, wanting more. Whether or not it’s the bare simplicity of island design, deficiency of any real management structure aboard your ship or simply the overall transparency from the world’s engagement, Sea of Thieves feels similar to one of those particular temporary respites earlier than some grander investment in another game. Something you muck about with with an hour and zip more. And for something as crucial as it’s been for anyone like myself who seldom indulges in online multiplayer, while Sea of Thieves contains the teamwork principle down-then what?
Is that this a game title of substance or possibly a game of potential — clambering into the hope that players will “only make their particular fun?” Yes, you will find a little silliness and due reactionary disbelief when you see your ship sink beneath ocean as a swell of string arrangement signal open water again to be the most terrifying concept in existence (especially overnight), nevertheless these are unintended accidents beyond your supposed “bulk” of your game’s content. Once you seemingly convey more engagement while in the surprisingly-detailed ocean physics – instead of the focal content on show – well which is a problem. Along with Microsoft’s/Xbox’s case, a giant problem.
How far will the trading concept go, will the cosmetic and customization sides be pushed, will the jolly and co-operative nature of fulfilling objectives flourish in terms of buddying on the top of fellow players? That’s, should the match-making is (and hopefully will likely be) better fortified. Undoubtedly, we have a pull in Sea of Thieves designed to win even the most jaded of lone wolves over, but is life at sea (simply the ocean) a reasonable justification? I commend Sea of Thieves for its attractive proposal, though an extremely lacking world and over-reliance on random encounters, let’s just say Rare haven’t quite convinced me wholeheartedly with this concept yet.