In Review

Sea of Thieves reviews: critics praise ‘excellent’ pirate adventure

Online multiplayer game has players hunting for treasure and slaying mythical creatures

Massively-multiplayer online (MMO) games are becoming increasingly popular on home consoles following the rise of Battle Royale-style titles such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. 

Now Rare, the Microsoft-owned company behind the Banjo-Kazooie series, is entering the emerging market with Sea of Thieves. The game, which has now gone on sale, offers a slight twist on conventional open-world titles, however. 

The new game takes the format of a cartoon-style pirate adventure, with players teaming up with friends and strangers to look for treasure and battle giant sea creatures. Gamers can also engage in ship-to-ship battles and even spend time in virtual pubs. 

Here’s everything you need to know about Rare’s next big title.

Release date

Sea of Thieves was released on 20 March for Xbox One and PC. As the game has been developed by a Microsoft studio, it will not be available on Sony’s PlayStation 4. 

Orders are open now on Amazon, with the base game costing £42 for the Xbox One, and £54 for PC. There is also a limited-edition wireless controller for £55, and a bundle with a Sea of Thieves-themed 2TB external hard drive with the exclusive gamepad for £135.

Setting and gameplay

Unlike the majority of modern first-person games, which are often set in war-torn cities or grater-filled battlefields, Sea of Thieves is a pirate-themed open-world adventure game with a cartoon twist. 

Players work together in teams to seek out treasure in vast open spaces filled with forts to explore, and mythical sea creatures to combat, The Guardian says. 

Missions include taking over skeleton forts, which are filled with warriors and are overseen by a captain, the newspaper says. When players take on this quest, all player ships in the area are alerted as well - which means gamers may have to fight other teams for the treasure. 

You can also take part in ship-to-ship combat, and hunt down creatures such as the legendary kraken with the help of all the players on the map.

Previews

IGN calls the pirate game a “showcase of excellent design” thanks to its accessible controls and straightforward gameplay. 

While the game may seem “overly simple” on the surface, the website says its colourful design hides a “much deeper function”. For example, the site says you can use a bucket to bail out water from your ship, but you can also be sick in it if your character drinks too much virtual ale. 

Rare has been “stuck making Kinect games” for Microsoft’s discontinued motion-sensing accessory in recent years, says The Verge. But Sea of Thieves “is an impressive return to form” for the studio.

The company has “done a great job” developing the fundaments of the game, the site adds. For instance, the sea is “extremely realistic” - to the extent that players may actually feel a little seasick in the event of a storm.

Sea of Thieves hits its stride when playing together as group and exploring the maps aboard a ship, says Wired. Each person gets their own role, such as steering the vessel and repairing it if it gets attacked by other players. 

Travelling in a crew means there’s a good chance other players will have your back when you’re exploring for treasure as well, the website says. If you do find yourself being ambushed by a rival group, the combat system is varied enough to let some party members use a variety of weapons ranging from handguns to sniper rifles. 

Tech Advisor agrees, praising the many ways in which players can access the online adventure game. Players can go on voyages or battle other gamers whenever they want, and they can even ignore certain quests to explore the open world at their own pace.  

However, Forbes argues that it “is not a complete game”, as it feels as though it’s lacking the amount of content offered by other multiplayer titles.

For instance, the website says the progression system is primarily tied to cosmetic items, meaning you can’t unlock more powerful weapons or new abilities. Also, the enemies lack variety and the legendary Kraken is “just tentacles with no actual body”. 

Although critics have already delivered their first impressions of the game, many plan on clocking a few more hours in Sea of Thieves’ multiplayer modes before giving their final verdicts.

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