Sea of Thieves is a brand new multiplayer, open world game from Rare, the company behind Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007 and Banjo-Kazooie. It officially launches on March 20th, users got a first look at the game this weekend during beta testing. The game will be available for both Xbox One and Windows computers.
The endless Pirates of the Caribbean sequels may have diminished the appeal of pirates, but as a theme for an open world game you can see the promise it offers. The possibilities are endless when it comes to going on adventures and exploring.
You start the game by waking up in a tavern on an outpost, all very pirate-like, and from there you can set out to explore. These outpost islands are scattered throughout the world and are home to the gold traders that you'll need to visit to buy voyages and to sell off any treasures you find on your journey.
Much of Sea of Thieves involves sailing on the open waters and moving from one island to another, but getting to grips with my ship and learning to navigate with a compass took some time. I spent a while going round in circles before I finally got moving, and then had several collisions with rocks and sandbanks. I opted to play in solo mode, so I didn't have crew mates to delegate to, which definitely made things more difficult. Once I mastered sailing, my only complaint was occasional motion sickness - that's a credit to the game designers and the beautifully lifelike ocean. The sunsets and sunrises over the ocean are also particularly impressive.
While you're free to just explore the world of the game, the treasure hunting really begins when you buy a voyage. Voyages give you access to treasure maps so you can set out to dig for gold. This is the point where the game feels a little awkward; the navigation and plotting tools are minimal so there's a lot of switching between the voyage map and the map on your ship to find your way. Switching between the various tools you need for your voyage is also overly cumbersome.
After a few hours of sailing around and hunting for treasure, I did start to get a little bored. While the islands are beautiful to look at, there isn't much to do other than wandering around, fighting off some skeletons and digging up chests (you can't even open the chests, you have to bring them back to an outpost and sell them for gold). Even fighting off rival crews got old quickly. This may be because I was playing solo but I feel voyages will need to become more engaging and have more aspects to them in order to encourage players to return regularly. The outpost islands didn't have much going on either, when they could be great opportunity for interaction. Rare said they've held back a lot of aspects of the game for the full release, they've promised more trading companies, quests, progression items, enemies and creatures, so we hope these issues will be addressed.
I liked this game enough to try the full version when it's released on March 20th, but there would need to be a lot more to explore to turn me into a regular player.