Call of Booty
Dead Man's Chest
It doesn't help that combat itself is really weak, with an extremely basic melee system overshadowed by the win button that is the blunderbuss while its ammo holds out. Don't expect to see cool swashbuckling duels here... not only are the mechanics inadequate to support them but guns are just more effective in most situations, as you'll see when you encounter a piece-packing skeleton or player pirate. In fact, the only good thing about the cutlass is the charged attack, capable as it is of stun-locking boss skeletons to a cheesy death once you've dealt with their underlings, although the charged lunge one-shots the grunts anyway, so clump them all together and dive in.
As lacklustre as the core gameplay loop and most mechanics may be, the nature of the game does at least give rise to plenty of entertaining emergent moments. Full crew-on-crew ship battles can be epic, dogged pursuers after your cargo can make for awesome unscripted nautical chase sequences... even just watching a cretinous crew of random players clown around like the Chuckle Brothers trying to sail a frigate can be quite amusing, although that bubble bursts fairly quickly. Being part of a well-coordinated crew, though, is ever-rewarding, whether it's just you and a friend fleeing from an enemy galleon in a nimble sloop or all of the cogs falling into place as a tight four-person frigate crew. Sailing is fantastic overall, both solo and as part of a larger ship crew that needs all hands on deck, and the waves you soar through are gorgeous. Aside from that, though, interaction with other players is pretty much as good as it gets, so cross your fingers for a decent crew or have your own on standby if you intend to enjoy yourself.
It's just as well that you're able to create your own fun in ways such as this, since the game itself seems reluctant to create any of its own beyond the simple thrill of sailing. All the core mission types are just plain dull after the first few runs, PvP is unrewarding to the point that it can often just feel like griefing, freeform exploration offers scant rewards, and even the large-scale skeleton fort assaults are just arduous time sinks, often with nothing to show for it at the end if other players have anything to do with it. They usually do. Play for long enough with the right (or, in some cases, wrong) people and you'll certainly see some cool, funny, interesting and original things. But while you do have to commend the game for being able to facilitate such emergent moments, that doesn't change the fact that it's still entirely up to the players to create them. And with so little to work towards in the long term, most of those players probably aren't going to be sticking around for too long.
- Great art style
- Sailing feels fantastic
- Laughs aplenty in co-op
- Dangerously light on content
- Devoid of meaningful progression
- Myriad questionable design choices
Sea Of Thieves Review (Xbox One)
With no manner of meaningful progression, extremely limited structured content and no reason to continue playing past the first few hours bar some slightly shinier cosmetic options, Sea Of Thieves in its current state feels more like a demo than a full game. Sure, the level playing field makes it easier for players to dip in and out at their leisure without fear of being ganked by crews of level 100 mega-pirates riding laser sharks, but the core gameplay simply isn't engaging enough to encourage players to come back at all.
For all its entertaining breakout moments, there's so little to it right now that it's hard to recommend – so limited is its sandbox that it's less a box of sand and more a jar of dirt. Still, there are a handful of strong mechanics and features to build upon as well as the plethora of weaker ones that could use another look, so Rare could yet turn the game's fortunes around if future updates can steer the game back onto the course towards success that this excellent premise deserves.
Our Review Ethos
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