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Sea of Thieves Review (Xbox One X/Windows 10)

by on March 23, 2018
Release Date

March 20th, 2018




In Pixar’s Up, we learn that adventure is out there.  It implies that adventure is ours for the taking.  All we need to do is go out and find it.  It’s a remarkable concept that fits what I believe is the fundamental principle behind Sea of Thieves.  In an open world filled with islands and beautiful seas, your experience is what you make of it.  By that, I mean it’s up to you to find your path and become the ultimate pirate you want to be.

To some, the vague beginning and lack of story can be a turn-off.  After picking your randomly generated character, you begin in a pub and can do literally whatever you want to do.  There is no story to start things off for you.  You don’t have to take revenge on some pirate or take over a fort or build your ship from scratch.  You start on an island and can choose where you want to go.

This is the true beauty of Sea of Thieves.  Your adventure may start with finding a treasure for the Gold Hoarders.  Maybe you skipped the voyages, jumped on your ship, and went exploring.  I started my adventure collecting pigs and chickens.  The best way to earn gold is to collect and fulfill missions for the three different companies.  But you don’t have to if you don’t want to!  You can explore and find things to do if you so choose.

Let me tell you about a more recent voyage.  My crew and eye saw a skull-shaped cloud in the distance, indicating the presence of a skeleton fort and an opportunity to collect a ton of treasure.   We sailed over beautiful, choppy blue sea and made good time with the wind in our sails.  As we approached, we saw another four-man crew in the distance.  We decided to ignore them and made a plan of attack.

The skeletons immediately opened fire on our ship as we got closer.  We decided to head around a rock and anchor out of range of the cannons on the fort.  Our plan was simple – launch a crew member to the island, have him take out the skeletons manning the cannons, then approach on our ship and attack.

The plan was working very well.  We defeated wave after wave of skeletons using our swords, guns, and cannons found on the fort.   Then, problems arose.  Remember the four-man crew we saw earlier?  They decided to join the party, except the party they wanted to have involved sinking our ship while we dealt with skeletons.  Our mission changed as our new ship spawned a little ways away – we wanted revenge.

We charted our course, found the crew, and lay siege to their ship.  The back and forth was intense.  I’m pretty sure we sunk their ship because they ran out of supplies to repair their ship.  We swung around to steal their treasure and found that they left a man swimming to defend it.  The sharks took care of him before we got to him, and we happily seized as much of their treasure as we could.

This encounter shows the beauty and possible frustration with Sea of Thieves.  Our adventure changed in an instant as our plans changed from taking out a fort to getting revenge.  While I personally loved how everything played out, I can imagine the frustration if this happened to anyone else.  You can’t control the actions of others, and some find it fun to make life miserable for other players.  Yet Rare made sure to put everyone on an even playing field.  No player will have weapons or ships that do more damage or sail faster than others.  Your skill level will determine how encounters will play out.

And you will need a lot of skill in Sea of Thieves.  Despite playing in the Alpha and Betas, I still find myself making adjustments to how I play Sea of Thieves.  I still find myself overshooting my target when I man the cannons and I still run a ground if I get too close to an island.  Sea of Thieves encourages you to keep playing and work hard to become the ultimate pirate.

Sea of Thieves is made for multiplayer.  Sure, you can sail a smaller, one-man ship if you would like.  But it is a million times better when you have a full crew.  Sea of Thieves requires you to open up and communicate.  And when you do, your experience is even better.  Sailing is smoother and objectives are easier to conquer with friends.  If you can’t play with friends, then you can be put on a random crew.

I know there has been a lot of talk about the end game, and right now it is a bit vague.  We can only speculate about what will be coming in the future.  We know that Rare will continue supporting Sea of Thieves with additional content, but what will that look like?  I’m sure we will get more cosmetic options for our pirate and ship, but I personally don’t care about that.  I can imagine that there will be more random instances like the skeleton forts.  Perhaps there will be a bigger Kraken fight or an island like Tortuga that you can conquer.  Right now, we have to wait for some maintenance and bug fixes before we can expect more content.  I’m willing to be patient, and hopefully, you will too.

Your path in Sea of Thieves is yours to make.  The game is not for everyone, but you can’t deny the potential for fun and adventure in Sea of Thieves.  Despite some setbacks with trolling players and endgame content, I find myself wanting to play more and more of Sea of Thieves.  The controls work very well, and the game is flat-out gorgeous.  The detail in the water and lighting is a sight to behold.  The pirate’s life is definitely for me, and I can’t wait to set sail once more.

Note: GameOctane Editor Ryan Welch is subscribed to Xbox Game Pass.  He downloaded and reviewed Sea of Thieves from this subscription. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.

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Beautiful open world
You can choose which path to take
Intense combat experiences
A blast to play with friends


Vague end game
May encounter trolls on the high seas
Some might find the lack of customization...disturbing

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Your path in Sea of Thieves is yours to make. The game is not for everyone, but you can't deny the potential for fun and adventure in Sea of Thieves. Despite some setbacks with trolling players and endgame content, I find myself wanting to play more and more of Sea of Thieves.

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