Sea Of Thieves Beta Impressions: Is This It?

  • Windows
  • Xbox One
  • Action-Adventure
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The Sea of Thieves closed beta was fun, but seemed very limited MICROSOFT

The Sea of Thieves closed beta was this past weekend, and aside from slight technical glitches early on, it ran very smoothly. I had the opportunity to meet with pirate pals online, smash some zombie skeletons and dig up buried treasure. While my experiences were fun, they do leave me wondering if I’ve seen all there is to do in Sea of Thieves.

Gameplay loops that never end

The core gameplay loop for Sea of Thieves is incredibly basic: players get a quest at an outpost, locate an island on a map, sail to it, dig up treasure, then head back to the outpost to cash it in. This is fun the first two or three times, but it eventually feels like you’re tasked to complete the same objectives again and again, and you’ll start to wonder where the variety is.

Yes, there were some slight differences in missions, such as the number of skeletons that needed to be slayed to get to chests or even the chests themselves. One hilarious and unique chest we found made you instantly drunk the second you touched it, so it was particularly difficult to cash in. However, the differences were very small and don’t impact how you play.

This loop can also be incredibly short for some missions. Even when I played by myself, I still managed to start a quest and cash in the chest within around 15 minutes.

There are other things to do, like explore sunken ships, but that’s pretty much it. You can either go on quests for chests or find sunken ships. There’s some basic cosmetic items to buy (with more coming in the full release, I’m sure), before it’s on to the next ship/quest.

PvP Can Be Annoying As Hell

Sea of Thieves is a game based on pirates, so it would make sense that players are going to get attacked by others at some point. Heck, “Thieves” is right in the title. However, there will still be players that just want to troll and make the game miserable for others. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to avoid it.

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Things stop being so calm and peaceful when other players show up Photo: Microsoft/Game Informer

In one particularly frustrating instance, a random and I happily sailed our small boat towards an outpost where we could cash in a treasure chest. A huge ship with multiple people on board camped just off the coast of the outpost and shot us down and stole our treasure. OK, that’s fine. That’s how it should work, right? However, we then respawned at the same outpost, surrounded by the same players. Guess what? They sunk our boat and killed us again, even though we didn’t have anything left to give. This went on for an unfortunately long time until we managed to get away from the outpost and sail to a different corner of the map.

I’ve encountered annoying players like this in other games, and have used tools to make my experience better. GTA Online also has players that can be super annoying to deal with, but it’s possible to go into Passive Mode or create a city to play in just for you and your friends. Similar features haven’t been implemented in Sea of Thieves so far.

It’s still kind of fun

The weirdest part of the Sea of Thieves beta is that even with seemingly nothing to do, and the potential to be trolled by annoying players, it’s still fun to play. Working together with your friends to navigate the open seas and find treasure can be a relaxing experience, and a nice change from other group-based online games. Instead of high-intensity raids in Destiny or constantly on the edge of your seat for a round of PUBG, Sea of Thieves is a place to goof off, get drunk and play some sea shanties. There aren’t any timers or many enemies to kill, just a boat on the waves.

I don’t know if Sea of Thieves is worth a full-price entry ticket. We’ll see what the experience is like once the full version is launched. Even a few added game modes and some options to deal with PvP would greatly increase my excitement, but as of now, I’m cautiously optimistic.

Sea of Thieves releases for Xbox One (and Windows 10 PC via Play Anywhere) on March 20.

So what do you think? Are you interested in playing Sea of Thieves when it is released? Do you think you’ll wait and watch a stream or read reviews before buying yourself a copy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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