The Spur

Hopes of adventure sink following Sea of Thieves’ release

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Imagine becoming a pirate. Sailing the sea, looking for treasure, putting together a crew and engaging in ship-to-ship combat and other grand adventures. All of this and more was promised in Sea of Thieves, an open world pirate adventure game for the Xbox One and PC. Except that there isn’t more. The sea may be deep, but the gameplay here is pretty shallow. Everything that I listed earlier is everything that you do. Over and over again.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t positive aspects to the Sea of Thieves. The graphics are wonderful. I’ve never seen an ocean in a video game that looks so warm and inviting, and sailing through the sea with your friends can be a lot of fun.

The ship controls are also very good. Everything about actual sailing is there, from steering and navigating to manning the anchor and masts, and it’s a lot of fun to work with a cooperative crew to get your ship to its destination. Just drifting around for hours exploring has been by far my favorite part of the game. It’s obvious that fine-tuning the actual mechanics of sailing in this game were big priorities for the game’s developer, Rare.

Once you’ve gotten past the initial awe of how good the sailing is though, you begin to realize how little there actually is to do in this game. There is no end-game or sense of progression to this adventure. You can complete several types of missions, such as finding treasure, delivering goods, and collecting bounties, all of which reward you with gold. But each is just the same mission in a different location, over and over.

Everything that you can unlock with this gold is purely cosmetic, which allows for newer players to not be completely outclassed by their more experienced rivals in terms of gear, but it also makes the game feel hollow and doesn’t provide much incentive to keep playing.

The player versus player interactions themselves also share this hollow atmosphere. The main problem with them is that they aren’t rewarding. The only way that you can get anything out of sinking an enemy ship is if they have just completed a mission and are returning to port, and this is usually a very small window of opportunity. Some amount of gold or another reward for sinking another crew’s ship would go a long way toward heightening the stakes. After all, everyone in this game is a pirate, so why wouldn’t the game reward you for acting like one?

I guess the big question that you should ask yourself before buying this game is, “what do I hope to get out of this?” If the answer is an immersive open world experience that you can pour hundreds of hours into without getting bored, look elsewhere. However, if you’re just looking for a fun and casual game to pick up every now and then with some friends, this will suit you fine. My hope is that future updates to Sea of Thieves will add a lot more content, because the game does have potential. But as of now, a pirate’s life this ain’t.

   2.5 out of 5 Spurs.

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Hopes of adventure sink following Sea of Thieves’ release