Sea of Thieves: Game Review

It seems unfair what happens with Sea of ​​Thieves . As the only exclusive of the season for Xbox One, it is natural that it generates high expectations, even if they never come true. All expect a complete revolution, another sells consoles and the spearhead that would profile Xbox to stardom. However, the reality is depressing: Sea of ​​Thieves , is a beautiful and charismatic game, addictive and challenging, but completely empty and lacking in depth.

The new game of Rare is a first-person delivery exclusively multiplayer court, where you perform as a sailor in a crew of up to 4 players. Your tasks consist in acquiring contracts and directing a boat following simple nautical navigation rules to islands scattered in a vast explorable world. Once there, you must meet targets and then sell the loot obtained while defending yourself from attacks by other players. Due to this nature, the objective of the game is not very clear, which is worrisome in the long term.

The main attraction of Sea of ​​ThievesIt is the maritime navigation where you must take advantage of the force of the wind and conjugate it with the sails of your ship to maneuver over the waves. The adventure begins when you choose between 2 boats: the sloop and the galleon. The sloop is a small and agile boat with 2 guns, one on each side, where 1 or 2 crew members are accommodated; Its strength is mobility, so it is common for it to outperform large ships by its closed turns, although it tends to be slow and less resistant. For its part, the galleon accommodates crews of 3 or 4 sailors who control 8 guns and 3 sets of sails; It is resistant and when the wind is in your favor, you can reach a sloop with ease. However, we feel that the balance between the ships can be improved because, in theory and for the experience to be balanced,

“true multi-level crisis management”

Navigation is one of the strongholds and one of the best sections of Sea of ​​Thieves: almost a job that the crew must attend with special care to succeed in the looting of treasures. This task is laborious because you must constantly adjust the sails, rotate and raise them to take advantage of the force of the air and, thus, accelerate or reduce the speed to make tight turns. In this case, the helmsman requires information about the route because the scale of the boat is sufficient to cloud his vision of the horizon, without forgetting the lack of on-screen help with the route to follow. When the combat against other crews is unleashed, the action is totally frenetic; true multilevel crisis management: it is imperative to control the sails, adjust the rudder and open fire at the enemy crew while you repair the damage inflicted on the ship.

Unfortunately, the experience of naval combat tends to be tedious and even boring because of the ineffectiveness of the guns. You see: because a boat can be repaired constantly by the crew, the battles often get too long, especially when you compete against trained sailors, which turns the activity into a war of attrition where the first captain loses his supplies. In this case, the common and, in fact, the only viable alternative is to board the enemy vessel to eliminate the crew as soon as it reappears. This is the only effective way to sink a ship.

The galleon is difficult to maneuver

As for structure, I feel that Sea of ​​Thieves is a complicated title because at the beginning of your adventure you are thrown into the world without previous preparation; the only context is that you are a pirate … and that is not very helpful to say. In this way, the first hours of play are confused by the absence of menus and lists of objectives on the screen; In fact, the user interface is simple, minimalist and only shows your health or amount of ammunition that loads. I think that may be a positive, although questionable, point about the nature of the game and its feeling of exploration and adventure because it challenges you to know it from the old method of trial and error.

“The only context is that you are a pirate … and that is not very helpful to say”

The most feasible thing is that you start your adventure with a crew, which turns the dynamic into a visual learning. In reality, very little is required: just play nice and pay attention to the actions of your new crew to start the journey and end up being a pirate legend. This is how you know the elements that build the experience and its structure.

Soon you will know about the existence of the 3 brotherhoods that dominate the seas and that you can buy contracts -or crossings- that correspond to missions whose rewards are gold coins. Each faction offers a maritime adventure with a specific structure: the Order of Souls requires the skull of a skeletal captain that you obtain after defeating hefty waves; the Merchant Alliance is to find and deliver animals in outposts; finally, the Gold Hoarders’ voyages are searches of treasure chests along the world islands of Sea of ​​Thieves. On this last faction, the dynamics of location is interesting and fun because before digging you need to find the location that shows the map from the geography and the prominent points of the island; Sometimes, you will find the place of the X is complicated and will make you scratch your head interpreting the map.

Climbing ranges is not enough

One detail is that you must deliver the booties of the crossings with the appropriate merchants, which forces you to store numerous treasures, as the sea voyages are long. Yes, this means that you first download all the loot and then transport it, one by one, to the corresponding store.

When completing these missions you receive experience that is progressively stacked to increase your reputation with the factions, which gives you the opportunity to face challenges with different layers of difficulty. For example, the Merchant Alliance may require more animals and that forces you to find cages to keep the creatures and deliver them in a time limit; the Order of the Souls can send you to face multiple skeletal captains that can be stronger than the usual ones and the Gold Hoarders give you cryptic scrolls with clues that you must follow to find the treasure chests.

“In addition to fighting waves of skeletons, you must repel the attacks of other players”

Likewise, there are forts full of skeletal enemies in the confines of the world, however, they do not always have paranormal activity. The indication to know if a fort is “active” is an ominous cloud in the shape of a skull that you see on the horizon leagues away. These temporary events offer great rewards, but only for those who manage to liberate the enemy enclosure and face the fearsome captain who keeps the key of the vaults full of treasures. In this case, you must use the simple combat system that consists of wielding your sword with simple movements and, sometimes, using firearms with very limited ammunition. The strong ones are the best rewarded and, for that reason, attract the attention of other players, which generates an interesting and risky dynamic because,

The ominous sign invites naive crews

On the other hand, there are events of a mythical and sporadic nature. I mean the hunting of the elusive Kraken. According to Rare, this legendary creature can not be found; instead, she finds you in a strange event where you must face her to claim an achievement. In our experience, we have not yet seen the Kraken, but we have heard it during the exploration of the islands or navigation and we know of its existence thanks to video logs of other captains.

Unfortunately, the variety is a neglected apartment in Sea of ​​Thieves . The activities, which are sometimes memorable, quickly lose the novelty factor and transform the experience into a repetitive grind by acquiring gold coins. In turn, these rewards are spent in the stores of the outposts where you buy clothes and cosmetic aspects for your tools, weapons and even the figurehead, the paint of the hull and the sails of your boat. Although the brotherhoods have ranks that scale when completing quests, the cosmetic elements are the only “progression” within the game. That is to say, the only difference between a sailor of fresh water and a sea lion is clothing … although there is also the exception that he prefers to avoid dressing elegantly.

“the variety is a neglected apartment in Sea of ​​Thieves”

In this sense, I think that Sea of ​​Thieves is an organic experience that lacks the vices of modern deliveries that have conditioning systems that “motivate” you to virtually continue the adventure. In other words, the progression of Sea of ​​ThievesIt is lateral, without improvements of health or power, with all its players in equal conditions. Here, from the beginning, you have access to all the tools necessary to meet your goals and do not change throughout the adventure. Moreover, all the characters are identical, with the same amount of health and movements, and the same weapons with the same values ​​and damage attributes. The same thing happens with ships: they are all the same for everyone. If someone defeats you in a duel, it is not because you have dozens of hours in the game and access to exclusive weaponry; no, it defeats you because it has more experience in the seas than you.

The visual quality is overwhelming

The whole personality of Rare is present in the appearance of the game; from the comic, relaxed and careless aspect of the characters to the art direction that covers all the aesthetic sections: the clothes of the characters, the flora in the islands, the rustic armament, the ships and the infinite and blue of the sky and the sea. Sea of ​​Thieves feels like the natural evolution of Rare’s old days as designers; reminiscent of when scenes of Banjo-Kazooie and Jet Force Gemini shone on our screens; he even has more recent delivery tinctures like Kameo: Elements of Power and Viva Piñata : Rare’s golden age before obscurantism.

Part of the charisma in the appearance of Sea of ​​Thieves rests in a realistic representation of the ocean that is responsible for closing the visual section with a flourish. The technical work of Rare to draw on the screen the waves that grow and move away in a chaotic swing gives them life and is simply commendable. You will be hypnotized by the foam of the ocean and the shadows printed on the waves when you turn to the horizon; here it is imperative to take a break to contemplate the infinite beauty of the sea.

“the soundtrack is abominably combined with the shrill cry of the ship, whose destination is the bottom of the sea”

On the other hand, the sound orchestration is exceptional and dynamic; each action detonates subtle notes on top of the usual musical arrangements that accompany navigation. When you hit a cannon on the hull of a ship you can hear dramatic arrangements with violins that increase the intensity of the action and the same happens during the last moments of a ship, when the soundtrack is abominably combined with the shrill lament of the ship, whose Destiny is the bottom of the sea. This does not mean that at any moment of your trip a melody sounds, but the sound arrangement enters and leaves the equation to support solitary sequences where the only necessary accompaniment is the sound of the air that bothers the sails, of the waves that collide against the hull and the creaking of the wood that yields to the demands of the sea.

Reflecting on Sea of ​​Thieves , I get the impression that it is a half-completed game with a debut that came very early with 1 or 2 very well made gimmicks. It also makes me think that it is a platform on which Rare can build an unparalleled experience, because its potential is enormous. I see a myriad of activities that take place in Sea of ​​Thieves : for example, how about introducing fishing to turn a boat into a whaling ship as part of the trades of the Trade Alliance; imagine finding a mythical beast in the style of Moby-Dickand become the very Captain Ahab. What if there was a cursed chest in the voyages of the Hoarders? It would be great to be chased by an implacable ghost crew and other hostile crews exist for the purpose of sinking your ship. Why does not there exist a system of nautical flags that allows to raise different badges to announce to the world your black intentions? The potential of the game is frightening and may become the game we dream of in a year or 2 … maybe 3. And I think it’s possible, remember that we live in the transition period towards games as a service.

Anyway , Sea of ​​ThievesIt left me great memories and experiences. My first maritime battle against a galleon with 4 experienced crew members was epic; I escaped with my shipmate on 3 occasions and we reject 2 attempts to board in the depth of the night. In the end, a storm unleashed the chaos and gave us the opportunity to hide our small ship behind 2 bodies of giant stones to end this persecution. At other times I felt like a true rogue when I spotted a small ship and infiltrated its cellars to steal its treasures. And I was the scum of the seas camping some freshwater rascals and ruining their afternoon of treasure hunting or sinking a ship that intended to sell their booty.

In this way and according to the above, I can affirm that the true action and current attractiveness of Sea of ​​Thieves happens when you strike steel and sail with agility to hunt a ship on the horizon, although the task is totally without reward. The cooperative missions are good, entertaining and, to a certain extent, challenging; however, they tend to become boring and repetitive quickly. When you reach a certain rank in the 3 brotherhoods of the sea you can say that you have seen everything; The grind to acquire the cosmetic outfits and scale the ranks is not enough to captivate the players. Without the necessary depth, in Sea of ​​Thieves you are responsible for your own fun.

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