Ah, Rare. Rare, to me, is like a girlfriend that you shared some of the most formative years of your life with. She provided you with some amazing experiences and, back in high school, you couldn’t imagine yourself with anyone else. That all changed though. You had a falling out somewhere along the way, and now every time you see her you just wish she would grow up and get her life together. That’s why I so desperately want their latest game, the pirate themed MMO Sea of Thieves to be amazing. Is it? Well, the answer I formulated from my brief time with the game at E3 is “to be determined.”
Sea of Thieves promises to be a swashbuckling, pistol firing, treasure seeking, adventure. None of that, however, has anything to do with the demo that I played on the floor at E3. This demo simply consisted of 5 players, including a Rare representative, boarding a pirate ship and having a cannon ball fights with other ships. It was basically a galleon sailing simulator. But, it was a GOOD galleon sailing simulator.
For the purposes of the demo, you were assigned a random Pirate and hit the ground running. I was a stout fellow whom I believe went by the name “Cannonball Chris.” You could cycle through the items in your inventory, but only one of them had any real function in the demo, that being the plank that would be used to repair your ship (more on this later). The other two were a musical instrument and a mug of grog… which everyone immediately downed upon starting the demo. Because that’s what you do when you start a game and find alcohol in your inventory.
Once the demo started, you realize just how much this game depends on teamwork. You set sail, and you and the rest of your motley crew need to work together in order to get your ship moving. Someone will need to man the wheel, several people will need to keep an eye on the sails, and everyone else will need to run around and jump on canons or repair the ship. It was actually a very fun experience. The game has a fun art style and everything looks beautiful in motion. In addition, coordinating in order to sail, and subsequently hunting down and engaging in cannon warfare with other ships, is actually a very engaging experience.
The main issue I had with Sea of Thieves is that it may have only been an engaging experience because it was so novel. Remember, this was the only facet of the game made playable at E3, and while interesting, I don’t know if it would be enough to carry an entire game. I especially don’t know if it would be enough to be the center point of an entire MMO. Additionally,In addition to this, the team I played with communicated very well. This was probably a big reason for the enjoyment I experienced while playing the game. I can see this being a game that’s fun with friends, but frustrating as hell when playing with randoms on Xbox Live.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with Sea of Thieves. Being a pirate is almost always fun, and the unique premise lead way to an MMO experience that was unlike anything else I ever played. I’m just worried that what I saw is not quite enough to keep this game afloat.