When it comes to Sea of Thieves, there are plenty of opinions, both good and bad. I think it’s safe to say that Rare’s pirate-em-up didn’t have the smoothest of launches out there. When the game unexpectedly hit the shelves this March, after some hastily organized beta tests, it quickly came under fire for the lack of content and features. Players felt cheated by the state of the title on release and the torches and pitchforks were quick to appear.
However, since then, Rare has been hard at work on Sea of Thieves and are doing their best to bring the pirating adventure to the state they promised us before the launch. As for why that wasn’t done before releasing their title into the wild, we can only speculate. Some say it was Microsoft that pushed Rare to release an unfinished game, others claim it’s the studio’s own negligence that caused this situation. Knowing how Microsoft likes to keep things to themselves, we’ll probably never know exactly what happened.
Either way, however, it is a fact that Rare are doing their best and they keep improving Sea of Thieves with every update they push to users. A lot has changed in the game and there’s more coming our way. So, with that in mind, let us look at the pirate title of the year once more, as there are plenty of reasons for you to give it a second chance. Of course, there are also many aspects in which it still feels a bit underwhelming.
20 Try Again: AI Ships Are On The Horizon
At E3 this year, Rare dropped a brand new trailer, showcasing two of its upcoming updates - Cursed Sails, which landed recently, and Forsaken Shores, which the team is preparing for September. With that, one major feature, which lots of people expected to make it into the game much sooner, got confirmed by the trailer and Rare’s employees in the next few days. And with Cursed Sails we got skeleton ships roaming the Sea of Thieves, and this is what the update is all about. If you ask me, this is a good reason for you to get back on the deck and prepare for some pirating.
19 Stay Away: Skeleton Cannoneers Need Nerfing
Speaking of AI ships, I cannot help but mention the skeletons manning the cannons on various islands. While they certainly add an intriguing game mechanic for advanced players, I find them to be rather annoying most of the times. It’s not that I dislike their presence there, but I do believe they are a bit too accurate for creatures that lack eyes. I’ve probably taken more damage from them than from enemy crews and I’ve fought plenty of other players. So, I can only hope that the AI crew on skeleton ships will be a little less of a nuisance when it comes to firing their cannons. Otherwise, we all might as well say goodbye to our vessels for good.
18 Try Again: The New Ship Type Is Here
While we’re on the subject of Cursed Sails, I have to admit that the one thing I am most excited about is the new ship - the Brigantine.
It’s a 2 to 3-man ship to cover that middle ground between the Sloop and the Galleon.
The new ship comes with two masts and two cannons on each side. It is designed for an optimal crew of three people, so even if you cannot find a fourth friend to conquer the seas with, you can still have a viable competitive crew. Honestly, I do believe that this is one of the best new features we've seen from Rare since launch.
17 Stay Away: More Ship Customization Is Needed
Ship customization right now offers plenty of options. However, players are still locked to choosing from predefined sails, hulls, and figureheads. While I can certainly understand why Rare has gone this way instead of allowing people to freely design their own, certain aspects of ship customization could be expanded on. Let’s take the flags, for example.
If you look at historical evidence, you will find that each pirate had their own flag, which acted as their signature.
So, I think players should have the ability to design their own flags to fly on top of the mast. After all, if we are forging our own pirate legend, we might as well do it with our own touch on it.
16 Try Again: Freedom Is The Key Word
While we’re on the subject of “choose-your-own-adventure,” let’s take a look at the biggest selling point of the game - its core concept. While a lot of people complained about the lack of content (and some of them - rightly so), the majority of the criticism came from players that didn’t comprehend the basic idea of Sea of Thieves.
It is not about the loot, the AI threats, and how cool your ship will look.
When it comes to the brass tacks, the title is all about your choices and the freedom to do as you please in a vast sea that is yours for the taking. That’s the whole meaning of the #BeMorePirate hashtag that’s become a staple of Rare’s social media campaigns.
15 Stay Away: Griefers (Sadly) Still Exist
I think we already established that the Sea of Thieves community is awesome. It’s tight-knit, it’s mostly friendly, and most people do not take it personally when their ship is sunk and their booty - stolen. After all, that’s what the game is all about, right? But, surely, most people would not attack an empty ship, just to get some cheap laughs by watching it sink to the bottom of the sea, right? Well, wrong. In fact, often you will find that other crews do not attack you for your loot, they will not even check if you have loot. They just want to make you feel miserable by having to respawn over, and over, and over again.
14 Try Again: Cheaters Are Nearly Non-Existent
I’ve played plenty of Sea of Thieves and never have I met a single cheater. When it comes to Rare’s pirate title, cheaters are those elusive mythical beasts that we have all heard of, but no one has ever met. Sure, Rare did acknowledge that some people did manage to cheat at some point, but they were swiftly dealt with and this will continue to be the case in the future. Rare, just like Microsoft, do not take lightly to people exploiting their software, so quick and harsh bans are their answer to any cheating they manage to detect. Thankfully, this means that Sea of Thieves is quite clean of such nasty and disgraceful acts.
13 Stay Away: Microtransactions Will Soon Be A Thing
Now, the reason why Rare staff is putting in that extra effort (or at least one of the many, many reasons) is that we have all paid a fixed price for the game and we expect some support in return. However, the landscape is soon about to change, as microtransactions will soon be introduced. Of course, they will not alter the gameplay in any way and the only confirmed items for the real-money store are cosmetic pets, so we are not about to get a pay-to-win title. And yet, I can’t help but wonder how that will affect the community, despite it being the only sensible way to pay for the server maintenance.
12 Try Again: New Adventures Every Two Weeks
While we’re talking about microtransactions, allow me to mention the new so-called Bilge Rat Adventures. Those are bi-weekly events that grant you a special currency if you manage to complete specific “achievements” of sorts. A lot of people thought that they are just paving the way for a premium currency, but Rare made sure to let the players know that this is not the case. In fact, Bilge Rat Adventures and the doubloons they grant are just one more addition to the game, giving us something new to do every couple of weeks. So, not only are Rare always adding new content, but we’re also incentivized to interact with it as much as possible.
11 Stay Away: The Sunken Curse Is A Bit Disappointing
One of the new Bilge Rat Adventures is the Sunken Curse. And before it was released, Rare made sure to hype it as a brand new activity that will make us go deeper into the open waters and explore what’s beneath the choppy surface of the sea. Naturally, everyone thought that a new enemy, maybe some sort of merpeople, were going to make an appearance. Unfortunately, it turned out that it was just some statues that we had to beat into submission. Sure, a big update came very soon after this Bilge Rats Adventure, but in my opinion, the Sunken Curse was just lazy, if anything.
10 Try Again: New Lands Will Soon Appear
Not all Sea of Thieves updates are that disappointing, however. The other huge content update that Rare promised us at E3, Forsaken Shores actually looks like it could be an amazing one. Judging by the trailer, it will come with a new land, which players will have to tackle.
And, no, it won’t be just a couple of new islands with a handful of skeletons on it.
In fact, the land itself will be what we’ll be fighting after the September launch of the expansion, as it will be a volcanic environment, in which we will have to mind every step of ours. We’re sure it will come with a plethora of other challenges too.
9 Stay Away: The Sea Is Relatively Safe
Don’t get confused by the heading, this is not a good thing.
In fact, there are too few AI threats in the water, if you ask me.
And when most players mind their own business on a scarcely populated instance, the rare appearance of a kraken or a megalodon are nothing to really worry about. This can sometimes make the game feel more like a walking simulator than a pirate adventure. Still, Cursed Sails landed recently, so the new skeleton ship now provides a bit of a variety in our otherwise-mundane trips from island to island.
8 Try Again: The Game Still Looks Awesome
Yet, sometimes the calm seas can be a blessing. I already have countless many screenshots of sunsets and sunrises to show my wife, so she can say “now I get why you play this game.” After all, the graphics are gorgeous. The rendering of the water, while not entirely realistic, truly shines without making your GPU go crazy. The storms feel like real, with the amazing lighting effects and the gorgeous rain. And while they are more cartoonish than anything else, even the player models are a sight to behold. To say that Sea of Thieves is a beautiful game would be an understatement. It’s a piece of art, if you ask me.
7 Stay Away: Pirate Legends Will Always Win
Still, when the seas are not calm and another player decides to take you on for gold and glory, you might as well let them take your hard-earned chests. Especially if they happen to have the Pirate Legend title. A lot of dedication goes towards earning that and, honestly, most of us more-casual players do not stand a chance against the pirate elite. I tip my hat to those that managed to raise their skill so much in such little time, but I’d rather surrender and let them take whatever booty they want from my boat than to risk getting sunk and losing even my Seafarer Chests that they might have otherwise left me.
6 Stay Away: No Port Is Safe
I honestly cannot recall all the times that I had my boat sitting by the dock, while I go and look for some new adventures, while someone decided to randomly shoot it to bits with their cannons. Perhaps they hoped they would steal some loot once it sunk, or that I would be irritated by the fact that they sunk my empty Sloop, who knows. Yet, it is a bit bizarre that a game that relies so much on cooperation and the social aspect of gaming decided to not introduce a single safe haven. Maybe a single social hub would actually help people find like-minded crews and pirate and forge some alliances.
5 Try Again: There Is So Much Lore To Play With
The graphics are not the only finely-crafted aspect of the game. Obviously, a lot of thought has went into the lore behind Sea of Thieves.
Every island tells a different story.
If you take a look of some YouTube videos by people like Captain Falcore that explore the islands in depth, you will find that there are a lot of unexplored plot points and huge untapped potential for new stories to tell. And I’m sure Rare have some pretty solid ideas in their backlog, just waiting to come out in a new Bilge Rat adventure. Honestly, I can’t wait for that to happen!
4 Stay Away: Very Little Of That Lore Is In Use
While the world of Sea of Thieves is full of potential, it does remain untapped, at least for now. All that lore is currently going to waste, while players grind away at treasure chests and merchant quests. Sure, the Bilge Rat Adventures are a thing, but most people complete them more as a side activity than anything else. Skeleton forts are also a thing, if you actually manage to fight your way through the Pirate Legends that will inevitably show up. My point is that more varied adventures will surely be appreciated by the community. Thankfully, I am sure Rare has some planned in the long run, be it through Bilge Rat Adventures or something else entirely.
3 Try Again: The Development Staff Is Amazing
You might have noticed that I didn’t say a single bad thing about Rare in this entire piece. This is intentional and due to exactly two reasons. First, I am a professional and I know that designing an AAA game is not easy.
And, second, I actually like the people at Rare a lot.
They are among the few companies that still produce high-budget titles and still listen to their community. And not only do they stalkishly creep in the darkness, harnessing the power of Reddit comments. They also talk back, be it through their many social channels or directly on their forums. I think we should all appreciate that.
2 Stay Away: No Ship Is Friendly...
If you want to “be more pirate” and forge your own pirate empire, similarly to many actual historical sea bandits, you are unfortunately a little limited in one major aspect - all the best pirates had entire fleets sailing under them. In Sea of Thieves, however, no ship can be truly friendly. Not right now, at least. There is no guild or clan system to speak of, so the only other pirates that are truly on your side are your crewmates. The best you can do is create a shaky and short-lived Alliance, thanks to the Cursed Sails update. That’s a major missed opportunity if you ask me.
1 Try Again: … But Not Everyone Is An Enemy
Sea of Thieves is a very PvP-centric game. It was designed to make crews attack other crews and steal their hard-earned spoils, just like any pirate would do. And while a lot of players do go that way (which is perfectly fine and people should really stop complaining about it), others will simply mind their own business.
When a Galleon crew sees a solo pirate with a Sloop, they will often just let them do their own thing.
And others will even go out of their way to help fellow sailors. For example, there was that one crew that always left crates of sugar in taverns after raiding a skull fort, just so some lucky players could find them.