Let me start off by saying that as I write this, I am running on 4 hours sleep due to staying awake until 2:00am, fighting giant sharks and shooting hordes of skeletons all in the name of piracy!
I did this with a group of people I already knew, people that I get along with, some of which I know in real life and away from the Xbox. Not only that but thanks to the Hungering Deep expansion needing the community to work together, we played with random people we’d never spoken to before and made new friends.
As you can tell – This is mostly going to be positive.
Midnight hit in the UK and I had specifically booked 20/03/18 off of work because the beta had me keen to play. There were some obvious server issues as with any brand new MMO but we managed to get into one after half an hour. Straight away we ran around our starting island, stocking up our ship with bananas, cannonballs and planks of wood, getting whatever quests we could find and preparing for the voyage ahead. After then spending the next 7 hours adventuring (yep, until 7:30am!) I finally managed to pull myself away from my TV for some sleep.
In that 7 hours, we explored a big and beautiful open world on the seas. We sought buried treasure, solved riddles, killed banana-eating skeletons and chased chickens. We also hunted down every other pirate we could find with the aim to sink them.
Since the release, I have played Sea of Thieves consistently. There are a lot of people shouting into the ‘We Need More Content’ void but the game isn’t about that. I believe we have been conditioned to think there’s an end goal in games, a ‘win’ or achievement to grind towards but Sea of Thieves isn’t about that for me. For me it’s the adventures I’ve been on – I never come off after a night of playing without a story to tell. A Kraken attack, skull forts, being sunk by pirates better than us, blowing myself out of a cannon playing the Hurdy-gurdy only to get eaten by some hungry sharks when I land.
Most recently my story has been solving Merrick’s riddle to track down the Hungering One in the new expansion. Something I could do repeatedly because of the fun run up and challenging fight with ‘Meg’ the Megalodon that concludes all your hard work.
There are some obvious teething issues still. Server lag, bad sportsmanship from other pirates (though the community has grown mature and helpful as the game ages) and some reward imbalance can put people off the game. It took a while for achievements to properly settle down but they fixed it. The important thing to bear in mind with these issues is that Rare has been transparent with us from the get-go. Will they address all these issues? Possibly. Do I mind if sometimes I get lagged off the side of the ship? Nope!
In conclusion, Sea of Thieves has fast-tracked itself to becoming one of my all-time favourite gaming experiences. Our little group managed to raise £1,500 for Macmillan Cancer Support simply by playing the game for 24 hours and in that time we didn’t get bored, we made new friends, had a lot of adventures and most importantly we used it as a platform to do some good. It’s the type of game you’ll love if you don’t take it too seriously.
Sea of Thieves is just a blank canvas for your stories.