Last week, I was blessed enough to take part in something that I have been looking forward to for a long time. I was invited to take part in the Tech Alpha for Sea of Thieves – an upcoming multiplayer pirate adventure game by Rare, the creators of classics like Battletoads and GoldenEye. And, man, was it wonderful.
I will not go into many details in this post. If you want those, head on over to the Sea of Thieves official website and check out their promo materials. However, I will share my little pirate story and why I cannot wait for the game’s official release.
In case this piece leaves you craving to try the game out for yourself, head on over to the Sea of Thieves website and sign up for the Insider Programme. If you are lucky, you might get an invite to the tech alpha yourself. Also, keep in mind that it is currently available on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC only.
The Sea of Thieves Community
When you pick up an open-world PvP game, you expect that you will get brutally murdered left, right, and centre. We have come to expect this, thanks to games such as DayZ, Rust, and ARK: Survival Evolved. For some reason, we believe that this is the natural way things should be and we are perfectly okay with the sour taste this leaves in our mouths.
However, Sea of Thieves preaches a whole different philosophy. One of mutual respect and friendliness (unless you have a treasure to steal). Nearly everyone you meet in the ports will be more than happy to give you a hand by sharing some tips and knowledge. Instead of taking out their guns, people will whip out a concertina and a mug of grog. And when you leave that encounter, you will do so with a smile on your face.
It is a bit different when you hit the open sea. It’s anyone’s game at this point and you could find your ship sunk and your treasures in someone else’s hold, but not every time. During one of my solo voyages that I took with my tiny sloop, I met a crew of four people on an island. We chatted briefly and I was unwise enough to share that I have valuables on my ship. Imagine my surprise when I got back to my sloop and the treasure chests lied untouched.
That crew didn’t need my hard-earned treasure. They had a great time finding their own, following their own exciting voyage.
Mechanics and World
I will not reveal too much here, but I will say that both the gameplay mechanics and the world felt vibrant and alive. Everything had its purpose, everything was there for a reason. Every little piece of scenery told some kind of a story, from the skeletons you find on various islands to the ornaments on the local tavern’s wall.
While I was sailing around the world of Sea of Thieves, I felt just like I did when I was a kid. Back then, I loved pirate novels, such as the ones about Captain Blood. They excited me, showed me new worlds I could only dream about. Yet, with Sea of Thieves, the childhood dreams became real and I was there, shaping my own pirate destiny.
I barely made it out of a storm in one piece; attempting to avoid a bloodthirsty crew of four, I hid my sloop on the opposite side of the island; I battled sharks in the water. I was a real pirate, with a real gold fever. And the moment I cashed in on that first treasure chest was one of the best times I’ve had with a game in recent years.
When you play Sea of Thieves, you get the feeling that you earned what you own. Even your bucket is the product of hard labour and cunning pirate tactics.
Best Alpha Ever
Despite the fact that Sea of Thieves is still in alpha, it shows great attention to detail. It is very well-polished, and what is made available to players is held to the highest standard.
In fact, if the game was released as it is right now, it could pass for a finished product. It surely is better than some of the “full releases” we’ve seen recently.
Before I tried Sea of Thieves, I used to play a lot of Salt. It is another early access game with a similar nautical theme. I used to love it because it features a vast open world (which is technically endless), various different ships, and a lot of activities to take part in.
Yet, after playing Sea of Thieves, Salt feels somewhat barren. Yes, it currently has a lot more content than Sea of Thieves, but the endless open world leaves this content scattered and far in between. Sea of Thieves, on the other hand, comes with a world that feels denser and much more alive.
At the end of the day, if I could pay full price for the game as it is right now, I would have. It is everything I could want from a pirate game, and then some.
There is a lot of work left ahead of Rare. The limited scope of tech alphas couldn’t possibly prepare players for the much wider full release. When that comes, the community will suddenly grow a lot, so managing that could be the biggest challenge before that awesome studio.
Yet, I do believe that Sea of Thieves will live up to the hype. I do believe that the core community Rare has created right now will keep the toxic behaviour away by natural means, at least to some degree.
And I do not believe, but know, that I will waste a lot of time in that game once it launches.