I love Sea of Thieves. Rare’s swashbuckling adventure game is a lot of fun, and I’ve spent countless hours sailing the seas with my fellow enthusiasts. Despite all of the joy I’ve experienced, there’s no denying that Sea of Thieves doesn’t have a lot of content. Most of the quests follow the same beats, and there isn’t much variety. Enthusiast Steve Clist talked about the game’s lack of content in his analysis of Sea of Thieves.
The thing that Sea of Thieves is really lacking is content. The voyages you get sent on by the three different factions (Gold Hoarders, Order of Souls, Merchant Alliance) get old pretty quickly. The most glaring lack of content though involves the Mysterious Stranger in the tavern. I got all excited when I saw this as I thought it would be the central campaign of the game. Unfortunately, this is not the case at all. When you first speak to this NPC, you are instructed to come back once you are level 5 with all three factions. Once I had achieved that I went back, expecting to be sent on some cleverly scripted mission. Instead, the Mysterious Stranger told me to get to level 10 for each faction. Upon achieving this new level, I was told to come back at level 15. How long this will go on for, I don’t know (I’m currently in the 20s for each faction) but it is a massive missed opportunity.
At its current state, Sea of Thieves shows a lot of promise. It sets the foundation for an experience that will likely get better over time. While we know that Rare plans to add new mechanics and to the game post-launch, there are a few features I’d love to see implemented down the line.
An Adventurous Narrative
Before Sea of Thieves launched, I wondered what Rare would have in store for players in the final release. I played the game at E3 and participated in multiple betas. My time with Sea Of Thieves pre-launch was excellent, but I didn’t expect the final version to feel like an expansion of the beta. Rare was very quiet on what would be included on release, and I anticipated some kind of quest-line to follow. Needless to say, I am disappointed that Rare didn’t include a narrative. The world in Sea of Thieves is vibrant, beautiful, full of interesting NPCs, and the world is expansive and full of islands that often tell stories within the environment. It’s not impossible for Rare to add an actual narrative through updates. Exploring is fun, but doing so with a purpose would make players want to spend more time in Rare’s nautical universe.
Skeletons! Look, they’re cool, and I like the visual style of these enemies, but I need something different. It gets tedious taking down the same enemies over and over again. With skeletons, Sea of Thieves has already left the realm of reality. There are so many other things that they could do. Killer mermaids, undead pirates, and other supernatural creatures could pose a threat to our adventurers. My problem with the skeletons is the fact that every single enemy feels the same, with the exception of some having more health or an added ability. Combat is ultimately forgettable because the enemies you fight against are too repetitive. With that being said, there can be a few alterations to the combat that can make Sea of Thieves a better game.
A More Robust Combat System
Combat in Sea of Thieves is responsive and entertaining, but also barebones. Pirates can attack with their swords by using RT, lunge at enemies by holding down RT, and parry by using LT. For ranged combat, players can use a pistol, sniper rifle, or a blunderbuss. There isn’t much variety in the combat, and that’s a shame. Another issue I have is that all of the weapons you can purchase are simply cosmetic variants to all of the guns/sword you have. There are no improvements or combat benefits to buying a new weapon. I understand the logistics of weapons not being improved so that all players are on an equal playing field, but when fighting against computer-controlled enemies, increased weapon power is definitely something that would benefit all players.
Every quest (from each faction) follows the same structure. Gold Hoarders quests task players to find treasure, Order of Souls quests require you to kill a bounty, and Merchant Alliance makes players round up animals located on islands. That’s it. If you undertake a quest in Sea of Thieves, this is all you will do. After 25 hours, these quests become mundane, and honestly, fairly annoying. Rare can use updates to change mission structure. Whether this means including additional factions into the game, or adding another mission type for each of the existing groups, Sea of Thieves needs diverse quests to survive. I’m not sure how many players will be content with doing the same exact thing for 50+ hours. While sailing with friends is definitely the highlight, having different things to do would make the game even better.
There’s A Big World Out There: Let’s Explore It.
Sea of Thieves features an expansive world, full of lush environments, wonderful islands to explore, and skeleton forts to conquer. Unfortunately, you can travel to most of the map often. Although it may take a while to get to your destination, it’s not like No Man’s Sky, which features an enormous amount of planets to discover. Sea of Thieves can add more islands or even a new country to explore. The ocean is a vast body of water, with uncharted places to discover. You can currently travel off “the end” of the map, but what if we could keep sailing? What if Rare added in a whole new world full of adventure, memorable characters, unique missions, new factions, and different types of enemies to kill? There are so many possibilities for Rare to do in the future. What if the world we’re in is just the beginning? It’s exciting to think what Rare has in store for us.
Raids and Events
Skeleton forts are fantastic. The first night I played Sea of Thieves, my crew took over a skeleton fort, looted all of the treasure and then came face to face with the Kraken. It was an exhilarating experience, but I wonder what else could be done. Skeleton forts are easy to figure out once you know how to do it, and the Kraken should be manageable after a few encounters. Rare is in the perfect position to try many different things with Sea of Thieves post-launch. What if there is a massive shark that launches over your galleon and tries to sink it? There are so many different creatures, myths, and legends within the high seas that would make wonderful events in Sea of Thieves. Instead of skeleton forts, Rare could add expansive, multi-layer quests that end up with a giant boss fight. There could even be an area where you can team up with different crews to take down a seemingly unstoppable enemy.
Sea of Thieves is out now, but I feel like it should have been delayed a little while longer. All the fun I’ve had doesn’t make up for the lack of content at launch. There are so many possibilities for a bright future, but Rare hasn’t really talked about what they are planning to do post-launch. The studio needs to be transparent with the audience and tell us what they are going to do with future updates. Sea of Thieves is a game as a service. It can end up being a game with years of updates that I will come back to regularly or it can be like Destiny 2, a game that didn’t have enough content at launch, and I stopped playing altogether. This is Microsoft’s first new IP in a while, and it’s doing well. If Rare intends to keep its player-base from dropping, they must add new content sooner rather than later. Sea of Thieves can move away from being a barebones experience, but when will that happen? I’m not sure, but the time is ticking. What do you have up your sleeves Rare? I’d really like to know.