Happy New Year, everyone! Will this one be better than the last? I doubt it, but there’s always a chance, right?
I’ve recently gotten back into Sea of Thieves (again), a game I first started back in the beta of early 2018. I enjoyed it a lot back then, even though you could argue it was, at best, the foundation for a game rather than a fully-fledged game itself. Regardless, I had a lot of fun sailing and plundering with friends and strangers alike. I found it to be a game of moments, if not substance at the time.
And over the past nearly three years now, it has become a game that I find myself constantly returning to. In the quiet moments, the lull between other new releases, I always gravitate back to Sea of Thieves. And even in the interim, in those stretches where I’m not actively playing, I follow the game’s updates with genuine interest. Like other games that launched only partially baked (No Man’s Sky, for instance), Sea of Thieves has spent the last few years constantly adding to and refining the game, turning it from merely a bare foundation into something resembling a structure you could live in.
The core gameplay loop is roughly the same as it was back in 2018, along with all of its charms (or faults, if that’s how you view them). You sail around, and collect or steal treasure, fight or avoid (or befriend) enemy crews, all in the name of creating fun memories, (which is how I’ve always viewed the purpose of a game like Sea of Thieves). There are now more ways to find and hunt loot, more ways to battle, more ways to earn huge piles of gold, and a lot more refinement to all of the systems interconnecting them… but if you’d previously played Sea of Thieves and not been enamored with the prospect of setting sail, and trying to get your hard-earned (or hard-stolen) loot back to sell, I’m not sure I could argue you’d feel differently playing it today.
For me, what Sea of Thieves does just hits right. There are few games that have so deftly combined the feeling of soothing calm I get from sailing the virtual waters of the colorful and cartoony sea, with the sheer pins and needle of anxiety I get from stacking more and more loot on my deck, knowing that until it’s turned in, anything could happen. Seeing sails pop up on the horizon when I’m carrying piles of loot still puts butterflies in my stomach after all this time, because it means the outcome of the next twenty minutes could go any of a dozen different ways, and every single one of them will be a story to tell.
I’m always happy to see when a game with promise is able to stick with it, survive and even thrive given the chance to realize that promise. Sea of Thieves is one of those games for me, and it’s a game I’m always excited to dive back into, whether it’s for a few days or a few weeks at a time.