Sea of Thieves, Microsoft’s shared-world Pirate game coming to Xbox One and Windows 10, grabs you the minute you sit down to play the game. Rare’s game exudes what everyone loved about the studio’s previous projects, such as Banjo-Kazooie and Viva Pinata. Sea of Thieves is the Rare game people have been waiting for since the studio was essentially relegated to Kinect games.
After its debut last year at E3, Sea of Thieves has been intriguing in the sense that it seems to offer total player freedom. And in a way, the demo at the Xbox Media Showcase last night at E3 2016 gave that idea. There was nothing forcing each person to hop onto their pirate ship, set sail and engage the other vessels. While some were content to drink and play pirate songs, nothing forced us to do anything. There were just islands, jungles and a massive ship in anchor.
Sea of Thieves is a game that is dependent on you working together with your crew mates. Coordination and communication are key, especially when it comes to naval combat in Sea of Thieves, which is what the E3 2016 demo focuses on. You are able to engage two other enemy vessels, all controlled by actual people at the show, and the results are intensely fun.
As you fall into your roles, often not predetermined by their characters but rather by how your team shakes up, a rhythm can form. Some people adjust the length and angle of the sails, a few others start to raise anchor. The “Captain” takes the helm and you take off into the blue sea. Immediately, if you’re not working together, it can go totally wrong, however. This is why teamwork is so important. Everyone on the ship has a role and needs to perform it to their best.
Bringing your friends along with you will definitely help boost how much fun you can have. Grouping with a crew you don’t know isn’t bad, but the experience is enhanced with your friends wreaking havoc with you as well. I played it twice on Monday, one with a group of industry friends and once with people I don’t know and the former experience was a bit more fun since we were already familiar with each other. There was no “feeling out” period where we had to get brave enough to start talking to each other. Sea of Thieves became a game where nothing at the Galen Center mattered other than getting that ship out to sea.
As you engage other ships, however, absolute teamwork is a must. A few, well-placed cannon balls from your enemy can devastate a hull, making your ship list lazily and begin to take on water. You can patch up the holes in the lower decks before your massive Ship-of-the-Line vessel is turned into a swimming pool, but more often that not if it’s not something discussed beforehand no one will be focusing on the repairs.
Learning how to control the ship can also mean the difference between staying put and being hammered by enemy cannon, or being able to quickly get out of the situation. It’s not just the person at the helm of the vessel, but each person on board has their part to play. Sea of Thieves makes it so each part of being on the pirate ship is vital to running smoothly. A spotter in the Crow’s Nest can point out the direct of enemy ships and land bars. The Captain controls the rudders, but without people adjusting the length and angle of the sails to maximize the use of the wind you aren’t going to go anywhere fast. Using the anchor strategically is important. Need to get out of a hairy situation or engage and enemy to the rear of you? Use the anchor to quickly turn the ship around and continue on your way.
Sea of Thieves was an insane amount of fun to play, and it ran extremely well on the Xbox One as well. Out of the hour total I played, I never saw a frame rate issue or graphical bug any time. Sea of Thieves is shaping up to be one of the multiplayer titles worth watching leading up to its launch. It’ll grip you and keep you interested, no matter how things shape up for you and your crew. We were sunk twice and completely beached four times and not once did we complain about the experience. Pirate songs played as we walked our plank, drinking our pocket alcohol, ready to do it all over again.
[Images via Microsoft]