Anyone who watched the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies probably had fleeting thoughts that they would make a pretty damn good pirate. After all, who doesn’t enjoy being roguishly handsome, wearing retro pirate clothing, and seeking out treasure in exotic locations?
Thus we had multiplayer game Sea Of Thieves, created by legendary studio Rare, go live in December 2016. Sadly, however, although the game clearly had an enormous amount effort poured into the striking, but cartoony visuals, reviews were not exactly favourable. The consensus was that there simply wasn’t much to do in the game, which is not what can be called a glowing recommendation.
But, many years later, and after a veritable boatload of updates, is the game now worth the time?
Excellence In Atmosphere
Before looking at specific content, let’s first give Sea Of Thieves praise where it certainly deserves it; the world and atmosphere. Few games have attempted to capture what makes movie worlds like Pirates Of The Caribbean so downright charming. Namely; the sheer, undeniable feeling of exotic, globetrotting adventure. Sea Of Thieves doesn’t just nail this atmosphere, it takes it to a whole new level.
Setting off on a treasure seeking adventure with some friends, with the sun rising over the exquisitely detailed ocean, only for someone in your team to whip out their accordion and jump into a jaunty sea shanty is pure, giddy delight. Moments later a sea monster may smash into the side of your ship, suddenly throwing the whole mood into a gripping struggle of life and death. You and your team spring into action, manning the cannons and adjusting the sails for battle. Cannon fire thunders, pistol fire chatters, and epic music swells to punctuate the cinematic flare of the encounter.
Later, as you return to an outpost to sell off sea monster steaks, and the sun now sets below a tropical horizon, you truly do feel as if you have been on a journey. It is, undeniably, extremely immersive and well crafted.
You Make Your Own Fun
So yes, the game can be a breath-taking delight, and if you don’t genuinely feel enchanted by the atmosphere in Sea Of Thieves, your heart is probably made of stone. In terms of content, however, the game may still be light enough to have some still preferring online Bingo. Check to register here, if you feel like Bingo might be more your style.
Content has indeed been added to the game in boatloads, but needless to say, it still doesn’t do the rest of the incredible world much justice. Treasure maps and quests are doled out with aggressive regularity, but the vast majority of these are simple ‘go here, get the thing, sell it for gold, buy cosmetics’ deals. These quests can be fun, but only if you and your team are engaged and along for the ride.
But just a quick disclaimer; if you’re even thinking about tackling the game solo, just forget it. You’ll be bored within an hour or two, basically guaranteed.
Tall Tales, the self-proclaimed ‘cinematic adventures,’ are a touch more interesting than the mundane quests. Though they are also heavily reliant on you and your friends making your own fun. These quests will have you investigating fairly interesting accounts of legendary pirates, and uncovering long lost treasures. But best keep in mind that the story is all mostly delivered via text, pictures in books, and a few cool locations
As far as the globetrotting aspect of piracy goes, the Tall Tales aren’t half bad. If you and your friends lean into it, perhaps do a bit of roleplaying, and face the various puzzles as a team, there is a good, but limited amount of fun to be had.
All in all, Sea Of Thieves is an excellent effort, with a great deal going for it. There is plenty of fun to be had, and an enormous world to explore, all assuming you have a dedicated, fun-loving gang of teammates by your side. There is also plenty of action to engage in, and many jaw dropping experiences to be had.
But the fact of the matter is, even after all this time, Sea Of Thieves still feels a touch empty, and more than a bit light on real, engaging content. It is genuinely frustrating how little there is to do, given how gripping and immersive the rest of the world is.
Hopes are that Rare will keep updating, and eventually have a fully populated, sweeping pirate world that can engage players for months on end.