Sea of Thieves is a game for those who wish to cooperate and divvy out roles for each player. These aren’t exactly roles that are defined by the game, but more about talking through with each player what roles to play and what’s expected of them. It’s uncharted territory for most gamers, so naturally when it all goes wrong things descend into chaos. In a sense, my crew’s voyage was doomed from a certain point, but it was not only incredibly fun but also, as it turned out, successful.
Before we truly began our mini-adventure, there was a small learning curve in how the interface works, since there are a lot of places where weapons, tools, and even maps are brought up. No doubt in the final release there will be a more in-depth tutorial explaining the nuances of Sea of Thieves, but after a brief explanation we were soon on our way.
What ensued had us scurrying around the island trying to find where X was in correlation with where we were. This proved to be harder than it sounded, though we could easily have had someone designated as a navigator and someone keeping guard in case of enemy attacks, while the others dug up treasure. Through some luck though, we managed to recover the treasure and put it back on the ship.
Communication is the key to success in Sea of Thieves, so when we realised as we were setting sail that we’d left a chest behind, I volunteered to stay behind on the crows nest to keep watch for other ships. We also had someone manning the cannons to not only retaliate if necessary, but also launch the crew members out of the cannon. It’s a fast way to travel and looks hilarious if you have a high vantage point.
Before long though, I noticed a small splash in the water, then another one edging closer, then a direct hit. It seemed that a skeleton had risen from the dead and was using cannons to fire on our vessel. As one of our crew had recovered the chest and was returning, the other one decided to ambush our assailants, before firing himself out of the nearby cannon towards the ship.
Once we’d finally recovered the chest, we were about to set sail when we somehow clipped an island turning around. Luckily the leak caused as minor at best, but it highlighted the importance of navigation both in general and nearby locations. It was at this point that we finally had designated roles. As soon as we left the island though, I noticed a vessel speeding towards us. We set our sails to catch the wind and attempted to outrun them.
Our tactic was to try to get to the Outpost nearby as soon as possible and deposit the treasure to collect the bounty. As we approached the island, time was of the essence and it wasn’t long before the other ship was upon us. By the time I had cashed in, the ship had already taken significant damage and was quickly sinking outside of the harbour. But our mission was largely complete aside from cashing in the last chest, which made our crewman carrying it rather drunk due to a special effect.
So as our time came to a close, it was somewhat of a pyrrhic victory. We had cashed in our gold, but lost our ship. Aside from a steep learning curve with the controls, the game looks to be a swashbuckling adventure that, when played with friends with the ability to talk via headset, could be one of the more unique gaming experiences to come out in the next year.
Microsoft has a lot riding on Sea of Thieves’ success. As long as the game gives players a lot to explore and varied challenges on top of what I experienced at GamesCom, it could be a bright new beginning for Rare.