A pirate’s life turns out to be a mixture of uproarious fun and joy-sucking boredom in this Xbox-exclusive multiplayer romp
he idea behind Sea of Thieves is so brilliant that it’s hard to believe no one thought of it before. You and up to three of your mates play as pirates in a giant online world, sailing the high seas, plundering treasure and bolstering your reputations to legendary status. Who wouldn’t want to play that game?
It’s a ludicrously cool concept… until you realise you’ve already seen everything Sea of Thieves has to offer. This is a plan that’s in need of fleshing out.
Even so, it’s a game that does a hell of a lot right – and crucially, it does this stuff differently to pretty much every online multiplayer game going right now. Unlike Fortnite or PUBG, the focus here is on larking about with mates rather than blasting your way to the top of a leaderboard. The best moments involve diving contests off the crow’s nest, and who can chuck the most grog-induced vomit at a crewmate.
As impressive as these stories are, they’d lose a little of their lustre were they set on a shabby expanse of ocean. But one glance at the lilting waves and glistening sky is enough to win you over. The cartoonish results really are a delight, especially playing in 4K with HDR on the Xbox One X.
Right now, Sea of Thieves has two major issues. Firstly, it’s only really fun in a group of friends. And secondly, it features an extremely one-dimensional grind of solving riddles and digging up treasure, which you’ll tire of sooner or later. Yes, you can spend your gold on cosmetic upgrades to improve your pirate status, and Skeleton Forts do prove a decent challenge, but none of this is enough to make you want to stick with the game in the long run.
While it’s fair to say all massive multiplayer online games are something of a work in progress at launch, the lack of content here is still a downer. There’s every chance Sea of Thieves will one day turn out to be the game you’d want it to be. But right now, it’s a fair way from delivering on its tantalising promise.