My first impressions after two-hours with Sea of Thieves

I was always a little bit wary of how Sea of Thieves would function in the wild. After two hours of playing at launch though, my first Sea of Thieves impressions are nothing short of glorious.

In sessions I’d played at previews, everything was managed so that we’d have a crew and never get lost or stuck for what to do next.

In the betas, I only ever played alone, never finding a crew to set sail with. It was still ok, but sailing alone isn’t what Sea of Thieves is all about. Thankfully, as soon as I jumped online, I was partnered up with three other players and away we went.

The next two hours were some of the purest fun I’ve ever had while playing video games. While two-hours isn’t enough time for me to cast an informed judgement, it is enough for me to believe that Sea of Thieves may have just managed to live up to the hype. 

It may be the much-needed success both Rare and Microsoft have been waiting for in this generation of consoles.

Sea of Thieves Impressions

Always online. Multiplayer only. Shared world. 

These are all catch cries of games that have made it big in recent years. Destiny being the biggest and most successful example. 

[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”My first Sea of Thieves impressions are nothing short of glorious” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””][/perfectpullquote]Many other games have tried to capture the same elusive magic and failed. Even Destiny 2 couldn’t capture lightning in a bottle the second time around.

But I think Sea of Thieves may have done it. Somehow, against all odds. Not to mention that it feels like the Rare of old.

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The Rare of the N64 days, that could do no wrong and who turned every game it touched to gold. 

Sea of Thieves had me laughing, cheering and jumping out of my chair. If that’s not the sign of a great game, I don’t know what is. But in those first two-hours, there was so much joy being pumped out of my TV screen that it would be remiss of me not to tell you about it.

Sailing the Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves begins the same way it did in the betas. You select your pirate, type of ship, size of your crew and away you go. If you choose to partner up with friends, you can invite them in and set sail. Otherwise, you’ll be joining a ragtag bunch of misfits with one goal in mind. 

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This is the part of Sea of Thieves that I thought would be its downfall. Playing online is a wildly erratic experience. On some occasions you’ll find a decent group of people and others, you’ll find the world’s worst troll. 

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I never imagined that a game so reliant on co-operation would be a success. But Sea of Thieves is, at least in that regard. As soon as we were a crew, we all worked towards the common goal. We all helped each other and completed jobs on the ship to make sure we got to the next point on our mission. 

Nobody tried to sabotage the mission or grief. Instead, we all got on with it. It was incredible to be a part of a group of strangers, coming together and working together in a way I would never have thought possible.

That is in itself a real testament to the design work of Rare in Sea of Thieves.

Live Together, Die Together

Nothing exemplifies that crew mentality better than when we came under attack from another ship. They got the better of us and managed to kill some of our crew while punching holes in our ship. 

Instead of panicking, we all fell into place and worked like a well-oiled machine to patch the holes, bucket out the water and man the cannons. What started out looking like certain doom for our ship and crew, became our first and greatest naval victory.

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After the ship sank, we all celebrated and picked off the surviving pirates in the water before setting sail. The camaraderie between the group was now sky-high and we were riding the wave of victory.

However, when we reached our next destination, we discovered one of the pirates who attacked us had stowed away below deck. He appeared from behind some barrels and blasted me with his blunderbuss.

Thankfully, my crew avenged me, but these are the types of experiences that can and will be commonplace in Sea of Thieves.

My favourite thing to happen in my first two-hours with Sea of Thieves though was pure, random luck. I decided to get stuck into the grog on our journey from one island to another.

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After four of five tankards, my pirate’s vision was incredibly blurred, he was stumbling all over the deck and he began to vomit. I especially enjoyed that I unlocked an achievement for doing so.

However, as the sea was choppy and my pirate’s legs weren’t full in his control, I tumbled off the deck and into the swell. Vomiting as I fell. I laughed so hard tears welled up in my eyes and I watched as my ship sailed off into the distance, vomit pooling around me.

Drink up Boy-o!

It remains to be seen if the emergent, co-op gameplay in Sea of Thieves can sustain it past a novelty. So far though, my money’s on it doing just that.

Whether you’re steering the ship, playing lookout from the top of the crow’s nest, battling skeletons or other pirates, catching chickens or digging up [perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”Both the ranged and melee combat in Sea of Thieves is mostly terrible” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””][/perfectpullquote]buried treasure, Sea of Thieves has (so far) never failed to be boatloads of good fun.

Not everything is perfect so far though. There were latency issues the entire time I played and combat suffered immensely because of it. Even without lag, both the ranged and melee combat in Sea of Thieves is mostly terrible. 

Trying to aim and fire any of the ranged weapons is difficult, bordering on impossible and fighting with a cutlass boils down to slashing randomly and hoping for the kill.

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Holding RT down for a power attack works sometimes, but again, lag would throw my aim off and then I’d be stuck in one spot for a few seconds, vulnerable and unable to move, block or attack.

It’s a shame that so much of Sea of Thieves functions so smoothly but the combat lets it down. It’s not that it’s terrible really, it’s just not very much fun. 

At the end of the day, combat makes up a large portion of the game and one of the Merchant groups relies solely on combat. Will players start avoiding those missions because the combat is shoddy? I would, so I think others might too.

Luckily, the rest of Sea of Thieves is brilliant so far. I’m hoping it stays that way because I’d love to spend lots more time sailing the Sea of Thieves with my friends, my family and friendly strangers.

PowerUp! is playing Sea of Thieves on Xbox One with a digital copy provided by Microsoft.

Leo Stevenson
Leo Stevenson
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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