Only releasing a few days ago, Rare’s Sea of Thieves has already become somewhat of a controversial game among players and the gaming press at large with many citing that the game that the game feels content light and repetitive. And in my own impressions of the game (check out my review here) I felt like this was an issue as well with many of the quests feeling similar and the reward for later quests felt a bit lackluster but I was really surprised at the amount of hate the game seems to be getting online as I really did think that overall Sea of Thieves was an impressive game that deserves more praise than it gets.
Before I get too far ahead and why I think Sea of Thieves is getting a bad rap I do want to point out that in no way do I think my opinions on games hold more value than that of my peers. I am just a guy, with a keyboard who likes to talk about his opinions on video games and I’ve definitely loved games before (Yooka-Laylee) that others weren’t so keen on so I’m definitely used standing on the other side of the aisle when it comes to my opinions on video games and I’m definitely ok with being ‘wrong’ on certain things, these are just my opinions which exist in a sea of other opinions.
So what has gotten me so riled up with Sea of Thieves‘ reviews? Well the general consensus seems to be that the game is light on content and doesn’t offer too much in the sense of traditional progression. While I agree that if you were looking at Sea of Thieves like a traditional action-adventure or RPG then ya, that’s a big issue but the game was never meant to be one of those game types. The developers at Rare were always honest that they were trying to deliver a new type of game experience that was different from what not only they had done before but what other studios had worked on too. Essentially Sea of Thieves is a pirate simulator, not a story-driven experience but just an open world, pirate themed multiplayer game and that’s what was delivered.
But those that make a good game? Well it depends on what you want out of your video game. The best example I can compare Sea of Thieves to is No Man’s Sky which, while that game had problems all its own, was also lambasted for not having a lot of gameplay variety and essentially being just a space-sim when it seemed like players were expecting a sprawling space-themed RPG complete with a massive open world. Sea of Thieves is essentially the same game with the same issues in the sense that there’s very little story elements and progression is based on how much time you invest and not exactly your skill at the game.
And there’s a certain beauty to that gameplay style because it allows developers to play the long game with their titles. Both No Man’s Sky and Sea of Thieves are jam-packed with potential for expansion and new content that the possibilities are nearly endless. Of course this means that the launch day edition of the game might seem light on content and variety but it’s all about laying the groundwork for what will come next and I truly think that in a few years, once Sea of Thieves becomes content complete that most players who decried the lack of content will find a more robust experience than they originally played.
Sea of Thieves represents a genre of gaming, the open world-simulation, that is taking advantage of modern technology to create game worlds larger and more expansive than any that have come before and offering players gameplay styles and options that are wholly unscripted and at their whim to dictate. This level of openness obviously means that things like story and traditional progression have to be sacrificed in order to keep the game relevant to new players while making the critically important multiplayer aspects fair and fun for everyone playing. In that regard I feel like Sea of Thieves was judged too harshly, almost as if it was a story-driven action-adventure with no story when in reality it’s just a big open world for you and your friends to pretend to be pirates in.