Gaming Editor Emma Kent rounds up the EGX Rezzed 2018 session on breaking into games journalism, and asks Eurogamer about diversity problems in the industryWritten by Emma Kent on 24th April 2018
Impressions: Sea of Thieves
Ahead of its release, promising pirates Nick Burton and Jack Cooper give their thoughts on Rare's Sea of Thieves, an Xbox exclusive
Redbrick Gaming Online Editors Jack Cooper and Nick Burton each give their impressions of the upcoming Xbox exclusive pirate adventure from Rare, Sea of Thieves, recently the most streamed game on Twitch during its open-beta. Jack has had the good fortune to have played the game during its beta phase, while Nick is giving his impressions just from trailers and what announcements have been made thus far.
Having had the chance to play Sea of Thieves on multiple occasions, from the closed alpha and beta a couple of months ago to the open beta last weekend, I have had the fantastic fortune of seeing the game evolve and adapt based on player feedback into something really special.
With Sea of Thieves being one of Xbox's biggest exclusives of the year, there is a lot of pressure on the game to be incredible, and, fortunately, it is! My entire experience with the game was full of great gameplay, lots of laughs and astoundingly awesome adventures.
In each of my playthroughs, the first step is to choose the size of your pirate crew (I chose to be a solo pirate but you can have a crew of up to 4 - either from your friends or other players) you are then spawned on a random outpost on the map. From there, you can either play around on the island or go and take up your first quest. After accepting your first mission: you head to the port, board your ship, choose your voyage and set sail! This is where Sea of Thieves really comes into its own, navigating your ship through the high seas is one of the game's best experiences and, although sailing may drag a bit on extremely long trips, once the game is released other players will be sailing the same seas as you and can either become a threat or opportunity to your pirate crew.
Once you are on the island, your mission will be to either: use a map to find the 'X' on the island and dig up a chest, kill a legendary skeleton and steal its treasure, or collect a certain number of items to be returned to port. While the mission types are quite simple, Rare have done a brilliant job of making it feel really rewarding to explore the island for buried treasure or hidden supplies, or to hunt a strong skeleton and kill them and their crew. Each treasure chest has the chance to also change your experience as players can retrieve anything from a common chest to a legendary, themed one. For example, on one of my voyages, I plundered the 'Chest of a Thousand Grogs' which meant that I had to drunkenly sway back to my ship while carrying it and it is these moments of pure fun that make Sea of Thieves a truly brilliant game and I can only imagine that these will only be more exciting once the game releases and you can journey with your friends.
Overall, Sea of Thieves is a really exciting game that I would recommend to any Xbox user. Not only is it easy to access thanks to Xbox's game pass, but the game itself feels fantastically fresh and is brilliant fun. Playing the game solo is great, although it takes a while to get used to running an entire ship, but Sea of Thieves will really come into its own when it becomes the social game that it is going to be. This is because players will get the chance to explore seas filled with other pirates that are ripe for looting, face intense situations when returning to outposts with treasures as other players are able to steal your haul and truly feel as if they're in a race to be the greatest pirate.
As I have yet to play any of Rare’s upcoming title, Sea of Thieves, I thought I would give my impressions of the game from a perspective of somebody who hasn’t experienced the convincing argument for purchasing the game – actually playing the game. A lot of people will be convinced to buy the game by watching the game being played, or by being exposed to the heavy marketing campaign Microsoft (hopefully) provides for the game. Without further ado, let’s dive in, pun intended.
Sea of Thieves has looked interesting even from its first reveal back at E3 2015. The art style is different, refreshing, and works very well as a game about pirating. Obviously, this is a gamewhich fulfills that childhood fantasy of being a pirate. In similar vein to how Red Dead Redemption fulfilled that ever-long dream of playing a cowboy in the wild west.
Now, one might say that we already had the dream delivered when we played Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. One might be correct since that game was filled to the brim with fun action/adventure gameplay. However, Sea of Thieves looks to be hosting much more online functionality than Black Flag, whilst also aiming for the more fun aspects of being a pirate. While I think there are many systems and features that haven’t been revealed yet, or that are only just starting to be revealed, we can expect Sea of Thieves to be one of those games that is just fun to play.
Rare’s strategy leading up to the game’s release was smart. They revealed the core gameplay around 2 years ago, released multiple betas for people to play and stream the game so that word of mouth could spread about how much fun it was just to play the game, and so when Rare will finally reveal the majority of the features within the game, the game will seem too attractive to be missed.
It also tempers expectations for the critics reviewing the game, bearing in mind that they’ve probably played the core gameplay around 3-4 times, with as much fun the first time they played as the last time. I would not be surprised if Sea of Thieves reached the 9 marks if the execution is right.
So, what do we know so far? It’s fun to play, it looks great, there’s been plenty of beta testing so hopefully the game runs smooth on launch day, and there’s more to be revealed. So what features would be good to feature in an online pirating adventure? Customisable ships and your own pirates. The ability to play in servers where you can’t be interrupted by other players. Many interesting quests with many variants of enemies, especially since most the time you’ll be encountering other pirates. Limiting the number of players on a server so that you don’t get absolutely annihilated when you jump in.
All of this and perhaps more will almost guarantee my purchase of the game without even playing it. I believe in Rare’s ability to pull this off, and if the post-launch content is done carefully and priced fairly, this game could be in for a hell of a long-haul for Microsoft and the team at Rare.
Come on Sea of Thieves, show us what you got. We need you to strengthen Xbox’s first-party line-up.