Sea of Thieves, Rare’s long-awaiting swashbuckling adventure launched on Xbox One and Windows 10 yesterday. I’ve played the game for three hours so far, and I’ve had a wonderful time. Xbox Enthusiast received review copies as other outlets did, but we didn’t get a chance to play the game until the servers went live on launch day. This put us on an equal playing field with Xbox fans that were eager to finally play Sea Of Thieves.
Yesterday, I noticed some websites scoring the game. On the main page of N4G, there was a review with a 9.3/10 rating, and another with a score of 5/10. There are varied opinions all over the internet, but most websites have not yet given Sea of Thieves a definitive score. Steve Clist, our Sea of Thieves reviewer, has been playing extensively since Monday night and already put in a solid 20 hours of game time. According to him: “I’ve put 20 hours in so far and am nowhere near comfortable to review it yet.”
From the few hours that I’ve played the game, there appears to be a lot to do. Say what you want about the open world, how players interact with each other, and whether or not it’s fun to play on your own, there’s no denying that there are a lot of things to do. There are three factions (Gold Hoarders, Order of Souls, and Merchant Alliance) that each has unique types of missions for players to embark on. Not only that, all three factions have reputation meters where you can level up and unlock promotions, titles, commendations, and items. This is just the base game. Sea of Thieves Executive Producer, Jon Neate, spoke to IGN about cosmetic items but also hinted that more gameplay mechanics and content would be coming.
“Sea of Thieves is designed from the ground up to be a game that grows and evolves, and we will release new cosmetic options ongoing as part of that, alongside new mechanics and ways to play,” he said. “Our focus for launch is on delivering a great initial experience, and as we move beyond launch we will be assessing and reacting to player feedback across all areas of the game. We have worked with our community throughout the development of Sea of Thieves, and that will continue in exactly the same manner beyond launch.”
One thing that bothers me about multiple sites already posting published reviews is that there is no way for them to have done all of what the game has to offer, or even close. Regardless of if the review is glowing or scathing, how can someone honestly give their definitive opinion on a game when it’s massive and just released? To the people giving it rave reviews, you’re telling someone to go out and spend their time and money on a game without seeing it through. Writers trashing the game are basically saying it’s not worth it when they rarely put the time in to evaluate the game themselves. Xbox Enthusiast will be doing a review when it’s ready and the writer feels he has done enough to warrant the final score.
When discussing Games as a Service, I appreciate the review in progress approach that IGN releases. The reviewers gradually play the game and write their impressions over time. It’s worked for games like Destiny 2, and the site is currently doing the same thing for Sea Of Thieves. This helps the reviewer tell readers how the game is without giving final judgment. Reviews in progress usually wait until a content drop, update, and talk about things like server issues, and end-game content. Sites like IGN and Gamespot don’t often jump in and review the game immediately, and I think it genuinely helps games like Sea Of Thieves, which is a continually growing video game.
Two other games that come to mind are Prey and Dishonored 2. Two years ago, Bethesda had a controversial policy where the company didn’t send review copies to outlets so that they can experience the game at the same time as consumers. When both of these games launched, it was a “race” to see who could get reviews out the fastest. Within a day, I started seeing scores for Prey, and it bothered me. As someone who bought the game on launch date, it’s an extensive game, with a lot to do, and many places to explore. I started seeing reviews shortly after launch. Reviewers have a duty to accurately and honestly critique a video game. It sets up a good rapport with studios and readers as well. You want developers to know what they did right and what didn’t work with every game. I always write down notes when playing games to refer back to when constructing a review. It’s my job to give every title, whether fantastic or abysmal, the same type of attention.
I’m really enjoying Sea of Thieves. After three hours, Rare’s latest adventure is fresh, exhilarating, and a great time. My opinion will fluctuate throughout the next few weeks with the game. I might love everything about it or Sea of Thieves could become a game that I grow bored of after a while. You see, I can’t come up with a definitive opinion just yet because I haven’t played enough. There are still plenty of quests to undertake, factions to increase my reputation with, I need to become a legendary pirate, and I also want to spend a lot of time playing alone and with friends. Rare spent a long time making a unique video game, and outlets should adequately evaluate the title. Sea of Thieves is the result of years of hard work from a loved developer. Dismissing their work with a quick review (regardless of the score) is not only an insult, but it’s disrespectful as well. The gaming industry deserves more, studios deserve better, and hopefully, future video games will receive better treatment in the future.