Sea of Thieves

Right off the verge of their 30th anniversary, Rare jumps back into the market with a different twist on Project Dream. No Kinect gimmicks, no nostalgic properties to fall back on. Just an old fashioned sea voyage with cannonballs, shanties, krackens, friends and treasure along the way. Or at least, that’s what’s been promised.

Story

The only story here is your own carrying out contracts of gold hoarding, soul selling and animal trading to increase your reputation throughout the tropical islands. Better watch your stern though less a cannonball hits your face cause there’s no honor among thieves in this world. Since it’s multiplayer based it’s not a bad idea and could lead to a lot of potentially different scenarios with a morality system, but we’ll get to that down the line.

Presentation

If there’s anything that’s cotton candy for the eyes, it’s the pirate aesthetic. The water never looked so real when changing from calm light blue splashes, to violent dark blue waves, to crimson blood danger zones. The pirates vary in body shape, facial expressions and distinct movements like cheering and dancing. It’s just unfortunate you can’t see most of these animations being in a first-person unlike Bethesda games where there’s a third-person option to appreciate the work in every frame.

But there are animation short cuts, like when battling the Kraken the tentacles rise from the ocean, but the entire body is missing because the water turns ink black. As for the enemies, there’s not a huge variety outside of the skeletons, snakes and sharks. Where are the pufferfish But the worst part is the glitch environment. Even after a  nine gigabyte day one patch it’s still glitches you from the crow’s nest to bellow deck for no reason. Now it might be patched in the future, but it doesn’t make a great first impression.

Gameplay

Do you want high stakes, many monsters and endless quest possibilities? Well keep waiting because you’re not getting half of what was promised at E3 outside of a couple of fetch quests. And you might say wait until they’ve added more stuff down the line, but that means supporting the Evolve route in pricing an empty land for a retail fortune and then getting more money pirated with overpriced downloadable content. How can an adventure where the sea can literally turn red be so under utilized? As fun as the Kraken battle is, the chances of running into one are so rare that you’re more likely to find bigfoot in real life. And where’s all the other sea life? Pufferfish? Sea Snakes? Anglerfish? Anything?

The combat? Completely generic sword and gun play. And the notion of repeating the same treasure hunting, animal catching and soul collecting over and over again is infuriating when thinking back to that conference and feeling the confidence that Rare would put their best foot forward.

To be fair, it’s supposed be played with friends than alone hence the Xbox live connectivity and at times it can be fun screaming at each other on either console or PC cross-play to keep the ship intact. But this is another case of a mobile game getting a large budget infected with micro-transactions (If we’re gonna choose a vocabulary for said money making strategies).

Verdict

Sea of Thieves went from one of the most anticipated game of 2018 to one of the worst, taking all it’s potential and turning it into a soulless corporate community instead of a full fledged game. It promised too much, delivered too little and is now being ridiculed by No Man’s Sky. If it wanted to be an exceptional RPG, add more quest variety. If it wanted to focus on upgrading, add more rewards than just costumes and gold. This is just an unfinished mess that’s adding fuel to the fire against this kind of entertainment. If you want the company at their best, buy the hugely discounted Rare Replay. If you want a great pirate game, choose from the vast variety past and present. Just leave this Swiss-cheese ship to sink to the bottom of the abyss.

Pros: bursts of high sea moments, pirate aesthetic, cross-play
Cons: empty shell of a land, animation shortcuts, glitchy patch, thin mission variety, squandered potential

5/10

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