When Rare first announced Sea Of Thieves I was very impressed. Here was what many of us, myself included had asked for for years, a pirate game. Not only that but a huge open shared world with lots of other people online. Now, Rare claim that stories here will happen dynamically from the adventures you share with and against other players. Think Battlefield moments during competitive multiplayer and all the amazing things that happen during a match.
Only here you are sailing the open seas in search of uncharted islands and buried treasure following clues and studying your surroundings to solve them. Also when encountering other players roaming the sea it is up to you and them whether you attack them or team up with proximity chat meaning when you get close to them you can talk to them via voice chat. Failing that if they don’t have a headset you can communicate non-verbally, playing your accordion seems to be the decided symbol of friendship in Sea Of Thieves or you can offer them a banana.
How this plays out when the game is out in the wild remains to be seen but during the technical alphas and closed betas the community playing the game have been very friendly and helpful to their fellow pirates. If you do have a naughty pirate in your ranks the crew can vote to put them in the ship’s brig to learn the error of their ways mocking them and throwing buckets of sick at them until they either play nice or leave. Another use I found for this feature was when I was going to have dinner rather than leave my friends’ game I asked them to put me in the brig so I could remain on the ship until I returned. I then played a few tricks on them before coming back on the mic by shooting and hitting the bars with my sword to make them think someone else was on board which was a good laugh! Other things that can be done for a bit of banter with your friends are putting them in the bridge whilst they are going to get a drink or something and getting drunk and sword fighting with friends is always good for a few laughs!
Of course some pirates want a good fight and the ship battles with other players are fantastic especially getting a friend to launch me from the canon onto the deck of the other crew’s ship to engage in some swashbuckling and musket firing action is a lot of fun. With challenging physics for the canon balls meaning you have to fire at the right angle to allow for wind direction and for it to drop as it travels through the air due to the immense weight of them. Co-ordination with your crew mates is key to winning a ship battle, with one person steering, two on deck firing canons and setting sail length and angles and the fourth person below deck patching holes made by enemy fire to stop your galleon from sinking. Voice chat is advisable although text messaging and gestures do a good job of compensating if a crew member doesn’t have a headset and also helps to break down any language barriers if there are people speaking different languages. There are other ways to take out an enemy ship such as using the sniper rifle, which is a musket with a telescope strapped to it, to snipe at the enemy players. Or you can sneak aboard their ship and either kill them or remain undetected and shoot holes in the bow of their ship, especially if you bring an explosive barrel or use one of theirs!
Single player pirates worry not though as there is a smaller ship that can be easily controlled with 1 or 2 players. I have tried this both solo and with a friend and can confirm it works just fine if you want to go off exploring on your own when your friends aren’t online and quests can be completed solo or with others. When it comes to battles the small ship is faster and more nimble than the much larger galleons and I found them very well balanced in a fight so that the small ship held her own as an underdog. If all else fails the galleon will never catch you as the small ship is faster due to being a lot lighter and thus travels faster powered by the wind so running away is always an option if you find yourself out gunned by a stronger team. You can however have as many people as you like on one ship either small sloop or a galleon as Rare put out a video where they had gathered 80 people together on one massive party boat. Me and my friends met some other people who wanted to be friends and we danced, played music and drank grog whilst chatting and getting to know each other over the mic which was an incredibly social experience and sending them a friend request was as simple as selecting the make friends emote by pressing the dpad which makes your pirate tip his cap to the other person and their Xbox profile pops up allowing you to add them to your friends list.
And then there’s the skellies! On the islands they are inhabited by skeleton pirates that have advanced AI. They can hear you when you make a lot of noise and will attack intelligently, can eat a banana to heal themselves and may even attempt to flee if they know they’re done for. There are also sharks swimming in the water so it is always a good idea to shoot them all first before going searching sunken wrecks which you can loot for treasure and supplies, if you’re swimming aboard an enemy ship or perhaps over to an island. The skeletons also have canons setup on some of the islands meaning swimming to shore becomes a challenge in itself and these are best taken out from the ship by returning canon fire before heading inland in search of treasure by following the clues. There are other AI enemies announced for the full game such as giant Krakens and a mysterious band of undead pirates to be found, killed and bring back their skulls for handsome rewards by one of the quest givers. Rare has been coy on any further details of what the full game has in store for us but I cannot wait to find out.
So I am really looking forward to Sea Of Thieves and hope it turns out to be one of the best games of 2018. Roll on Closed Beta 24-29 January and full release 20 March 2018! Aaar me hearties!