‘Sea Of Thieves’ Closed Beta Impressions: A Pirate’s Life For Me


Over the weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of participating in the closed beta for developer Rare’s newest game, Sea of Thieves. This Xbox One/Windows 10 exclusive, open world pirate MMO game was first announced in 2015 and will see release on March 20, 2018. Players who had preordered the game were given access to the closed beta, and after a bumpy start at the beginning, Rare got things in order and players were given a small taste of what awaits them on the dangerous waters of the Sea of Thieves.

In my first session, I lucked into a good group of people and met a player named Matt, from Wales. After a few defections and one forced ejection from the group — we had to vote a mic-less “captain” into the brig for not listening to his crew; he subsequently quit the game — Matt and I found ourselves teamed up with two other players, James, from Ontario, and another, Ryan, whose location was never revealed. This core group of players made up of people from around the world came together in such a way that we quickly formed a solid clan of cutthroats, bringing a reign of terror to any who stood in our way.

Sea of Thieves Beta

We voted James our captain, as he was the fattest of us all (character design, not in real life) and he looked most like a ship captain. Little did we know that James also had real sailing experience, and this key unlocked an adventure the likes if which I’ve never had in an online game; one in which I shall never forget.

With James at the helm and me, Matt, and Ryan (I don’t want to use gamertags, as I did not get their permissions) serving as his loyal crew, our ship scoured the in-game world of Sea of Thieves, collecting maps, seeking out treasures, selling the treasure at pirate outposts, dodging sharks and reanimated skeleton pirates, and engaging in naval warfare with all who tried to challenge us. And like any good pirate crew, we took our fair share of ships — by force — stealing all their treasure, cannonballs, wood planks, and bananas before scuttling their boats to the bottom of the ocean.

Sea of Thieves Beta

James called out commands, telling us which sails to raise and lower to maximize our speed. In combat, that 200 hours I spent playing Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag paid off as I was able to score direct hits with cannon fire, no matter how far away we were, or what trajectory they were sailing. Matt served as the unofficial second, relaying James’ orders and keeping Ryan and I in line as we each held down our respective posts. When we took damage, the crew quickly got to work patching holes and bailing the water out from the lower decks. By the end of our adventure, our boat looked like a patchwork zombie ship that would easily work in a Disney film, but she was ours, she was still seaworthy, and we loved her.

When we made landfall, James stayed with the boat as his loyal crew scoured the islands, following the drawings to the red “X”s and solving the riddles on the maps and uncovering treasures. At the various outposts, we sold the chests for gold and bought needed supplies for the ship. We also rewarded ourselves with a night of drinking, which very quickly turned into a bit from Family Guy, as we all bathed each other in vomit in a hilarious — and gross — exercise in the penalty of excess, before staggering out of the pub and getting back to our boat and our adventure. We laughed, all of us, as if it were the funniest thing ever. And maybe it was.

Sea of Thieves Beta

James talked about how intuitive and lifelike the sailing was. Raising and lowering sails to maximize the manipulation of the wind, pushing us one step ahead of any other crew, and he was a champion at keeping us focused at the tasks at hand in combat scenarios. The physics of shooting, whether it was musket, rifle, or cannon, was solid, and transcended the cartoonish art direction that Rare has chosen for this game. There is some realism here, and it makes Sea of Thieves that much better of a gaming experience.

Playing Sea of Thieves was one of the best times I’ve had playing a video game in months, and this was only the barebones closed beta. The full game promises so much more. But for five hours on a Friday night/Saturday morning, this crew of strangers from all over the world, brought together by chance, absolutely ruled the Sea of Thieves, and it was an adventure that they write songs — or game impression stories — about. Yo ho ho, and pass the rum.

Sea of Thieves is exclusive to the Xbox One X and Windows 1o (with cross play!) and will be released on March 20, 2018.

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