Have you ever longed to become a swash-buckling Pirate? No, I'm not talking about the actual historical Pirates that mostly consisted of societal exiles whose favorite activity was flaying captured enemies of theirs and putting them upon their bow as a grisly figurehead and testament to their unending cruelty. I'm talking more the stereotyped, idealized version of a swashbuckling swindler; one certainly capable of cruel feats and morally depraved actions, but nothing akin to the barbarism their real-world counterparts engaged in regularly. The Pirates of the Caribbean Pirate, one whom seeks treasure and desires to brave uncharted waters and lands to carve out their own existence free from the yoke of any tyrannical power. An individual that truly embodies the idea of freedom.
Well, unless you travel to nautical territory near Somalia or become wanted by your government, that's not possible in real life. Luckily, you CAN achieve your Pirate dreams in the amazing First-person Action Adventure Roleplaying Game: Sea of Thieves, developed by RARE Studios. Available on Xbox Consoles and PC (sorry Playstation users), Sea of Thieves is a gaming IP I would certainly consider among the better, if not the outright best and PINNACLE of a Pirate videogaming experience today. While several problems do stand out, the dedicated developer studio consistently updates their game to resolve these issues whilst also providing new experiences and adventures for the playerbase to enjoy on a daily basis. Thus, you don't need to worry about developers abandoning the title's life-cycle and leaving the game a rotting corpse feasted upon by a shrinking class of irritating veterans bloviating about how better they are at life than you because they sank your ship ONCE using Cursed Cannonballs and WHAT IS CLEARLY HACKING- sorry. Let's get to it.
In the game, there are three distinct classes of Ships. There are Sloops, the smallest and most nimble class. These are either for more lonely players that prefer venturing the dangerous voyages ahead alone, or for just two individuals. Then, there are Brigantines. A middle-class of vessel, Brigantines are more difficult to manuver given their increased size, but are a good fit for crews of three. Finally come the Galleons. The most powerful of these classes, Galleons can fit up to four individuals, which is the recommended size of people necessary to crew this gigantic majesty across the seas. Galleons can ostensibly do the most damage and forge the best legends upon the Sea, but their crew-size and maintenance requirements whenever damaged means they're rather rare sights to encounter within the game. Plus, you'd need at least three other folks willing to play this game at a given notice.
Sea of Thieves starts you off on a tutorial known simply as 'The Maiden Voyage'. You create your character by establishing their visual appearance and gender firsthand, before being taught the basic controls and objectives of the game. Subsequently, you're dispatched from the island your character is lauding upon through an intermittent mist known as 'The Shroud', a mystical barrier that shields the Sea from the outside world. Thus begins your foray into this dog-eat-dog Sea where cutthroat buffoonery is the norm and treasure-hunting is your best bet at ascending the ranks and becoming a true Pirate Legend!
Except, well... Pirate Legend isn't much to aspire towards, at the moment. Indeed, the primary objective of the game is performing enough quests for three 'Trading Companies' that exist across the unending watery straits: The Gold Hoarders, The Merchant Alliance, and the Order of Souls. These three factions are somewhat mysterious institutions that separate themselves from aligning with any particular Pirate banner, instead existing as the Pirate inhabitants of the Sea's source of income. Through completing quests of capturing animals, slaying emanations of the undead (we'll get to that later), and of course, moving island to island in search of buried treasure using riddles as your guide, among other provided avenues of working for these forces, you receive reputation. Think of it as increasing your standing within these Companies' ranks. Reaching Level Fifty Reputation (or max) with all three of these organizations allots you the title of 'Pirate Legend', giving you access to a mystical headquarters lurking beneath the Tavern which your characters spawn at from the beginning of each SOT session. The 'Pirate Legends' Tavern essentially contains the ghostly apparitions of Legendary Sea-Scourges that have long since passed, though have continued a presence on our physical world through a myriad of means. Among these spirits is that of the Pirate Lord, the first Pirate Captain whom ever arrived into these Wild Waters. Aside from being able to speak with past legends that you now break ghost-bread and beer with, alongside being able to buy some pretty stylish and fearsome cosmetics and gaining questlines only available to Pirate Legend, well... there's not much in this department. This has been a complaint roused among the community for years since Sea of Thieves hit shelves, and I'm betting Rare is looking to fix this Endgame rut in some manner. Thing is, it's rather difficult to build endgame content for a setting expansive as this one, especially considering that in a Sea where you are given a litany of quests and NPCs to interact with and other Pirates to ally with, destroy, or something in between; endgame content isn't easy to pinpoint. Hopefully this does get remedied however, giving Pirate Legends something more besides a pat on the back from the first Pirate Lord and some fancy new visual Ship addons and hats would be pretty beneficial for the game's lifespan.
Now, I mentioned a few things that I should probably go over in this comprehensive review of the game. Let's first begin with the 'emanations of the undead' I spoke of earlier. The 'Order of Souls' trading company are magicians and witches fixated upon the more supernatural elements of the Sea of Thieves. Besides, no Pirate tale is truly complete without haunting recounting of undying Krakens and evil beasts that could breath fire chasing our heroic scoundrels throughout Treasure Island. The Supernatural is just as pillar to a true Pirate experience as the acquisition of treasure and maiming of other adventurers that get in your way! Thus, your main enemy in this game isn't other Player-controlled Pirate avatars, nor the incessant sea-life that seems engineered entirely around making your characters lunch, but the cackling and infinite hordes of Skeletons that exist upon each island in these treacherous seas. To curry favor with the Order, you must hunt down particular Skeleton Captains; leaders of the Skeleton Army that have retained a sliver of their free will from becoming boney husks of their former selves. These buggers contain more health than their counterparts, and are commonly seen commanding groups of lesser Skeletons on islands and crewing their own ships. Even if you forsake the idea of becoming a Pirate Legend and simply want to acquire loot, encounters with Skeletons are unavoidable. They appear consistently on each island, and should you desire to gain the best and most valuable treasures in the game, you'll have to face certain Skeleton bosses. Above the aforementioned Skeleton Captains are the Skeleton Lords. In this boney hierarchy, Lords have not only retained their former personalities, but have been blessed with a boatload of unholy combat abilities that'll knock you off your toes! These enemies truly change up the gameplay, as their combat attacks force you to become relentless in your pursuit of victory even after using up a vast chunk of your resources chopping down the boss's health.
However, if facing the cadavers of Pirates long cursed and past isn't your idea of a fun time, Sea of Thieves still has you covered! There are other enemies lurking amidst the deep waters your vessel careens upon... Such as sharks! Sharks are rather easy enemies to dispatch of once you've mastered the game's combat mechanics and have garnered a distinct eye for spotting them underwater whilst gathering floating treasure. However, a group of them can often ambush you at once, and even a single attacker jumpscaring you can be enough to paralyze you with terror long enough for the predator to devour you. Among Sharks on the Ocean Hierarchy of beasts that would love to enjoy you as a quick snack would be Megalodons. The gigantic demon-sharks of yore are alive and well, roaming the Sea of Thieves and prone to assault Ships at any given moment. Megalodons have a major primary method of attack, that being an attempt to chomp at your vessel. Each tear of theirs consists of a hole in the ship you'll need to repair, alongside bailing out the subsequent water that infiltrates from these wounds. And better do it quick, because the Megalodon likely won't wait for you to finish. But even among these apex predators of the Sea lurks an evil vastness far more furious and powerful... The Kraken!
What good is a Pirate game without a Kraken? Popularized by ancient myths and given new form in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the massive leviathans of the Sea are considered the 'main boss fights' of your time in the ocean. Willing to assail your ship no matter what size or how many crew are operating upon it, the water surrounding your boat darkening to a purest black will indicate that you are now in the merciless maw of this unholy beast. Unfortunately, Rare has yet to apply an actual body to complete with the tentacles that emerge from depths below to bring waste and ruin to your ship. Until we see an update that brings an actual physical presence and corporeal form, the Kraken shall simply remain a network of furious tentacles slapping and harassing your Ship. However, even this boss battle is enough to strike fear into the hearts of new players and excitement into seasoned Piractical warriors that have faced the Kraken before. Plus, both the Megalodon and Kraken drop pricy loot that you can cash in; giving you a real incentive to face these adversities rather than turn tail and run.
If that's not enough to entice you into purchasing this fine product though; well... I understand. The game's far from perfect, buggy glitches and unfinished content (along with what is in my opinion a hefty lack of focus on progressing the game's actual features for more cosmetic focuses). However, I did save the best parts for last, the parts I'm sure are going to convince you to lay your greedy gold-loving paws upon a copy of this great sandbox adventure:
Tall Tales. A relatively recent addition onto the Sea of Thieves, Tall Tales are the embodiment of your classical Pirates of the Caribbean adventure (without any of the needless fluff of POTCs 4 and 5). These storylines are available to play anytime during your time within the Seas, and are truly something special. Containing dazzling puzzles one must solve before a trap kills the whole crew; the Skeleton Lord bossfights I mentioned earlier which bring a distinct pizzazz to the streamlined combat systems the game offers; to an intricately woven tale in which you are sat upon the front-row. Your trials and tribulations allow you to eventually come across The Gold Hoarder, Sea of Thieves's "Final Boss" so to speak. A durable and relentless Skeleton Lord driven entirely by greed and a former friend of the Pirate Lord, the Gold Hoarder bossfight will make you feel like a desperate Pirate adventurer who's gone in too deep against an ancient and mystical enemy, with only the grit and determination to achieve riches pushing them forward. The Tall Tales provide experiences and remembrances you can't receive in any other segment of the game, alongside giving you the proper in-game incentive to pursue them. If nothing else, play this game to one day enjoy a Tall Tale. There's the main one called 'Shores of Gold'; in which you must find the fabled 'Shores of Gold' and face the greedy gatekeeper of the riches stored upon this supernatural island, alongside the new 'Flameheart' orientated Tall Tales, in which after unwittingly releasing a demonic Pirate Demon from his physical tomb, face off against his schemes and legions of minions. Indeed, the Sea Of Thieves storyline is moving towards what seems a rather epic series of events. There are new world events focused around facing down 'Captain Flameheart', a particularly destructive and murderous Pirate Commander with eager intentions of conquering and tyrannizing all the Sea Of Thieves. Not only can he summon Pirate Ships from the Sea of the Damned, the canonical afterlife for Pirates, but he can summon altered Skeleton Lords known as 'Ashen Lords' capable of supernatural attacks and yielding deadly trophies upon their destruction.
Sea Of Thieves is a mixed experience, and depending on your preferences you may love or hate it. For every brilliant piece of content the developers, they seem to leave a door open for more to be desired. New regions of the Sea, a 'Man O War' ship that can fit up to six people and change up the dynamic, new land enemies to face that aren't Skeletons, etc. There are numerous demands levied at RARE each day with ideas on how to make the game even better, but I must tell you; playing Sea Of Thieves with friends has been a truly rewarding and engaging experience. Whether it's playing quests or simply enjoying the breathtaking graphical majesty accompanied with playing a shanty composed by the masterful musical minds at Rare, there's something for everyone in these Seas.
So what are ye waiting for matey?! Load yer' Flintlock, grab yer' Cutlass, and down your favored liquor, for we be passing the Shroud... and into the Sea where freedom is king. The Sea of Thieves! 9/10!