Rare’s “Sea of Thieves” should not be an amazing game — at least on paper. It is an incredibly simple game with no campaign to follow, no loot crates and even no dabbing or whatever the cool kids are doing nowadays.
This simplicity, though, may be the key to why it is the experience every child who ever wanted to be a pirate yearned for — and can now have, even if it had a rough launch week.
“Sea of Thieves” is comparable to a generic scoop of vanilla ice cream in a dish when looking at it on paper. Players complete simple quests for the three factions present at each outpost across the map.
The “Gold Hoarders” faction has players hunt for buried treasure across the seas based on riddles or maps of islands without the names which players must use for finding on the larger, labeled map.
The “Merchant Alliance” faction has players run on a series of fetch quests and the “Order of Souls” faction has players hunting skeletons to get skulls.
All of the quests reward players with gold which can be used to buy cosmetic items and players can get different quests as they level up with the factions, getting more gold for the quests as they go along.
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There is no campaign or hand-holding in “Sea of Thieves” which leads to a steep learning curve in the beginning and combined with the shallow faction system, this can lead players to throw down the controller.
That would be an extremely unwise move as it is its simplicity which lends itself to how great the game can be. It is ultimately a beautiful game with an amazingly witty personality.
A quest may require players to go to a specific island for a simple treasure chest, but along the way to the island, they might get into a cinematic pirate ship battle with another crew. Or they may stumble upon a message in a bottle at the island that leads to another mystery and more adventure.
The thrill of finding a random treasure chest worth a fortune on an island is beyond compare and is heightened by the fact that you have to not only transport the chest back to your ship if there are other crews near, but you also have to safely navigate back to an outpost to sell it.
This voyage may be complicated, but it pales in comparison to the video game industry which has become oversaturated with complex and sometimes controversial games like “Star Wars Battlefront 2” or “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.” Players are almost regularly harassed by loot boxes and microtransactions and it can be frustrating at times to get stuck in a pay-to-win trap of a game.
The simplicity of “Sea of Thieves” definitely pays off here for the most part, but there are times where the simplicity lends itself to the negative feeling of mindless grinding.
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“Sea of Thieves” had an incredibly difficult launch week with server problems and a variety of other game-related issues. These problems are compounded by the fact that Ubisoft’s “Far Cry 5” was released the week after “Sea of Thieves” and did not appear to struggle with those issues.
“Sea of Thieves” fares well outside of those issues and I look forward to what it will bring as time moves on. If it were a scoop of ice cream it would absolutely be vanilla, but it has to be one of the best scoops of vanilla I have ever had since it is a well-needed break from the concoctions that arise from the gaming industry.
I give “Sea of Thieves” a 4.25 out of 5 because it is an incredibly fun game that offers a necessary alternative to what gamers have become used to.