A lot is riding on Sea of Thieves for Microsoft and the Xbox. After a severe drought of Xbox exclusives due to Microsoft seemingly not really giving a shit about them, in comes a brand new IP and from the likes of Rare no less; a once legendary studio that released some of the best games in history on the Nintendo 64, but having completely failed to achieve anything of note (comparatively at least) on the Xbox consoles. With Rare no longer being forced to make games for the failed Kinect peripheral, Microsoft is intent on finally giving the studio the creative freedom it has been yearning for. Will Sea of Thieves be the Rare-quality game that Xbox fans have been hoping for, for over a decade?
This could be it! Finally, a Rare game that is worth talking about. Yes I know, many liked Viva Pinata but lets be honest; compared to what Rare produced before on the N64, nothing has really been stand-out from the studio or made its acquisition all those moons ago for top dollar really worth it for gamers. Sea of Thieves could change all that. I was initially skeptical of the game having been part of the technical alpha, but owing to NDA’s, had been unable to share my thoughts.
There is a distinct danger of the charm wearing off after a while
The biggest fear I have for Sea of Thieves is the possible lack of variety in gameplay. The beta was a lot of fun but the game really needs some structure to its open-ended gameplay. Raids and missions would not go amiss here and relying too much on the social aspect of the gameplay to fill in any gaps could really serve to harm the long-term enjoyment of the title. There is a distinct danger of the charm wearing off after a while.
The beta however made me realise something; there is no other game like Sea of Thieves out there. It really is something unique and the focus on social aspects of the game can do wonders for it. Voice communication is a must in this title and I really welcome that. Party chat really killed off the social aspects of online play and Sea of Thieves is the first real title to bring that back. I had an absolute laugh playing with my mates and randoms and it is brilliant hearing everything the enemy team is saying (or shouting) when they are under attack as you board their ship. THAT is the zen of online gaming to me.
If the final game has great boss battles, variety in gameplay, enemies and pacing then this could be the stellar hit Xbox really needs right now. I do admire what Rare are trying to achieve here and simply by virtue of the unique nature of the game, I tip my hat off to the studio for attempting something different. Not long till we see whether Sea of Thieves is the Rare game that Xbox gamers deserve, but have never received.
I’ll admit it, I haven’t played SoT’s beta, alpha gamma or whatever bit of the Greek alphabet it’s on at the moment. I’m not lazy (well maybe a little), I just find the walled-off experience that Betas usually offer to be a bit dull and they often put me off a game. I come to SoT devoid of baggage, clothed in the disappointment of a litany of failed Rare projects; the once great developer has been on poor form recently (sorry guys, I love you really) and as a result I have very tempered expectations that they will be able to recapture their hey-day, however it would be lovely to see them score not only a critical but commercial hit. The Xbox one really needs a win right now and SoT represents one of the platforms few real hopes for original IP big sellers. All the Gears and Halo games in the world (fine as they may be, I’m a fan after all) do not make up for the lack of Horizon: Zero Dawns or Hellblades.
As someone who prioritises story-based single player games over the quite frankly noisy and toxic world of online gaming (though I do partake as it’s unavoidable these days), my hope is that SoT is at least satisfying for friendless anti-social cretins like me; satisfying quests which don’t punish solo players would be a fabulous start. It would also be nice to see a variety in the gameplay on offer to avoid some of the grind that permeates it’s online competitors. I know some grind is inevitable in an online pirate simulator, after all pirates weren’t known for landscape gardening or stamp collecting in their spare time but everything not just being shooty/stabby bang-bang would be a win for me.
The Xbox one really needs a win right now and SoT represents one of the platforms few real hopes for original IP big sellers
Visually, as a One X owner I’m looking forward to playing something with a nice bright colour pallete and although the stylised cartoonish graphics can look a bit basic in screenshots and YouTube vids, hopefully in motion this game looks a treat, somewhere in line with the Borderlands series.
Most of all I hope the game is as fun as cartoon-styled, open world pirate simulator should be, rather than a portentous dirge fest like Assassins Creed.
it is possible that they could go full No Man’s Sky and fall short on delivering on all the initial promises.
My fears about this game are echoed by many, mostly that Rare and Microsoft’s reach is potentially exceeding it’s grasp; with such an ambitious project and such a reliance on not always reliable cloud tech, it is possible that they could go full No Man’s Sky and fall short on delivering on all the initial promises. There’s also the risk that without an interesting enough fleshed-out world and concept to it, SoT could come across like an online free to play game. The world is already full of scant gameplay, single idea, executed just about well enough online community games, it’s time for something with real thought and a mite of substance please.
Call me cautiously optimistic me’ hearties!
When Sea of Thieves was first shown off in early gameplay videos I was quite dismissive, as the footage seemed to boil down to players performing tedious, menial tasks. The time I have spent playing the game has belayed those fears, because without doubt it has been fun.
I am a long-time MMORPG fan, so my perspective is quite different Ed’s. I’m also over 5ft tall, so I see things from an entirely different angle to Gaz too. Sea of Thieves is very intriguing, as it seemingly eschews many of the staples of a good, enduring online game. The seminal World of Warcraft established a formula that works. The constant power grind isn’t just a cheap hook; it is an acknowledgement that it is impossible to provide fresh content at the rate that players will consume it. Blizzard’s answer is to incentivise players to repeat and recycle content. Over many years the activities available in that game have broadened, but at it’s core repetition is still key to providing players with enough stuff to do.
My concern is that Rare are banking on fun being enough to carry it, when in fact it needs some cheap and nasty hooks to ensure people want to keep at it
Sea of Thieves is built for the long term, which means repetition is inevitable. My concern is that Rare are banking on fun being enough to carry it, when in fact it needs some cheap and nasty hooks to ensure people want to keep at it. Some people will balk at the suggestion that cheap hooks should be part of the package (myself included, I sort of hate myself for suggesting it), but people are already expressing concern that there isn’t enough to do. How long will reputation grinds and cosmetic rewards give people reason enough to go on another familiar voyage?
On the plus side, it is great to see the studio produce something so fresh and ambitious. I hope that Rare execute on the unobvious promise of the “Infinite Pirate Generator”, giving my chubby pirate a persistent and endearing existence. I want to pick up that curse from Pirates of the Caribbean, and prove by moonlight that my pirate really is just big boned. I want to battle Krakens, and find some mystical way to recover my youth and my lost hand. I want to explore the depths of the ocean. And I want all of it to mould the appearence of my pirate, so that his adventures endure. If Rare can deliver half of that I’ll gladly play the game without any sinister power-creeping hooks.
Are you looking forward to Sea of Thieves? Will it be the Rare game that we have all been waiting for? Let us know below (no registration required).