Sea of Thieves: Will it Sink or Sail?

Discussion in 'Xbox One - Games & Content' started by Hells Malice, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. Hells Malice
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    Hells Malice Are you a bully?

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    Sea of Thieves is an ambitious new title by Rare that is fast approaching its official launch on March 20th. I won’t be going too in-depth with explaining what the game exactly is, I suggest looking at the extensive content on that already, but instead will be looking at the viability of the title. Being that it’s a game heavily reliant, if not entirely reliant, on online play with others means that it will inevitably die one day. But the question is, how long will it last?


    Sea of Thieves has a lot of very cool things going for it; a minimalistic HUD to help immerse players, easy to figure out controls, a gorgeous sea and islands to explore, fantastic ship sailing, and a medley of simple social features, to name the highlights. But not everything is all bananas and booty I’m afraid. There are some features that meld in very reactive and unpleasant ways. I’ll be listing out points and talking about them, just for simplicity and readability. Plus it makes it easier to discuss.


    1: A “horizontal” progression system and an open world “no safe zones” PvP system

    By far the biggest concern. While Rare has insisted they studied multiple online games and understand exactly what makes them tick, I have to question how true that really is. Open world PvP (player versus player) is a fun concept that can easily spiral out of control. When people hear this feature, quite a few immediately imagine a lawless hellscape of death and destruction. For the most part, that’s actually not usually how it ends up. In the past, open world PvP games have survived because of one simple concept; if you give players something to do, they’ll probably do that instead of terrorizing others. Obviously not 100% effective, but the general economy of a game does end up significantly healthier while there is content to chew on.

    The term horizontal progression basically means that all players are on a level playing field always. Whether you’re a decked out pirate legend with 10,000 hours, or a dirty vomit covered swabby with 1 hour, you are both equally matched raw power-wise. Players do gain some advantages, obviously the most notable being experience, with the other being weapon unlocks. But based on current balancing, a new player could get the weapons they want in about an hour. Characters can currently only hold two weapons, so unlocking the two that interest you is not exactly a lengthy feat.

    Now if you haven’t realized the clash here, allow me to elaborate. Horizontal progression systems are inherently ones with no real, feasible goals. I don’t need to gain gold once I unlock the weapons I want, which doesn’t take long for shabby looking skinned weapons. PvP focused pirates can just hop on a ship, do a couple treasure hunts, and then proceed to make life hell for as many people as possible. This behavior very quickly poisons a community. A fantastic example is Rust. These days it’s full kill-on-sight PvP. Years ago, it was quite heavily RP and shenanigans. Rare wants to build a very social game, but outside of your crewmates it will quickly become second nature to attack and kill absolutely everyone, else they’ll troll or kill you. I don’t necessarily think there’s a proper solution to this, but there are plenty of ways to help bandage it.


    2: Severe lack of PvE content

    PvE content is probably one of the parts that suffers most in this game, and it ties nicely into my previous point. Currently there are two enemy types; sharks, and skeletons. Skeletons can use any weapons pirates can, including land cannons. There are also skeleton captains which are just skeletons with more HP. This is a very bad sign. Aside from the kraken being confirmed as a sea boss, nothing else has been shown, announced or found.

    Like a fine cheese to go with an aged wine, voyages are also quite lacking. Split across 3 current factions, all of them are glorified reputation grinding. Probably MMORPG gamers least favorite activity, and for good reason. It’s a task that involves monotonous, repetitive grinding to keep pushing numbers up. Gold Hoarders reward chest turn ins, Merchant Alliance sends you on wild goose chases for animals and other goodies, while Order of Souls wants skulls. The core gameplay loop goes stale quite fast, as all voyages are more or less identical except in length and reward. The end goal of the game is to become a pirate legend, however all that offers is more voyages, more cosmetics, and a secret base that will do nothing until the next rank is released.
    Really I’d say the game’s focus is on PvP, so realistically the PvE content doesn’t necessarily need to be beefy. However once again, we go back to the fact about open world PvP. Since this is a social game, or supposed to be, stale PvE means more ruthless PvPers out for blood. Trust me when I say, there are no social interactions at the bottom of the sea. Toxicity breeds toxicity, and the game chokes out social interaction at every turn.


    3. No incentive to play nice, and missed opportunities to harbor social interactions

    As dull as reputation grinding is, the different factions would have been a marvelous way to incite soft alliances with other players. Something as simple as allowing players to ally with a faction for a small boon, while adding a small bane to another faction, would have done wonders. As an optional feature it still would periodically bring upon positive social interaction. Even if it’s simply because you’re a Gold Hoarder, and you see a filthy Merchant Alliance ship, so you proceed to board their ship and have a lively engagement. It creates fun and excitement basically for free.


    4. No character creation

    I would never go so far as to call this game breaking, but it’s asinine enough that I really wanted to comment on it. When you start the game, you are faced with 8 randomly generated pirates. You can select one of these, or roll another 8. That’s it. For some bizarre reason, Rare thought it would be a delight to use characters “they” made for you. For a majority of players, I’m sure many will agree this is far from delightful. For the betas I didn’t really care what I looked like, but I guarantee for launch I will be spending upwards of 30 minutes praying RNGesus delivers me a character I enjoy. I spent 20 minutes for the open beta just to see if I could find a character I might like, to no avail.

    Now, as dumb and short sighted as this feature is, it really could’ve been a lot less painful if you could at least help the creator a bit. I want a male character, so every single female character generated is a waste of the lineup. Why can I simply not choose my gender? As a white male, I also want my character to be white. Why can I not choose to only generate caucasian characters? Such a blatantly simple thing would likely at least make such a bad system bearable. Rare really screwed the pooch on this one I’m afraid. In a game where vanity is literally the entirety of the content progression, it makes zero sense to hinder players from having their ideal character to pimp out in awesome outfits.



    I’ll probably look at wrapping this up. I have plenty more to say but this is getting on the longer side of things. I’ll briefly go over exactly how I feel about this game, where it’s currently headed, and what I think needs to happen.

    Despite what it may seem, based on all of this ranting, I actually love Sea of Thieves and what it’s trying to do. It has a mountain of potential, and that’s why it honestly hurts to see Rare fumbling in some very key areas to preserve the longevity of this title for years to come. Sailing is absurdly fun and satisfying, it’s fun to play with friends, and it really is a beautiful game with gorgeous water. I would encourage anyone to grab an Xbox Game Pass (first timers can grab a 14-day free trial) and try this out (you get it for both Xbone and PC) for yourselves.

    But despite the good, the bad really will poison the waters fast if things are not addressed. Unless Rare is hiding a cove, and maybe a few galleys, of content for launch, it’s looking like the game will launch with an incredibly limited amount of things to do. There is almost nothing to facilitate social interactions outside of your crew, and frankly even then if you’re playing with randoms there is already rampant trolling. Toxicity breeds more toxicity. In an open world game with full PvP, you need content to distract players from getting bored and looking to hinder other players’ experiences. Not only that, but players need a reason to keep logging in. For people who enjoy collecting vanity items, the game is fine for now. But for many, they’ll find the game severely underwhelming as far as real tangible content is concerned.

    Many, many games have died to a toxic community in an open PvP world. In a game where other players are key, the game can’t afford to drop too many because that rapidly turns into a death spiral destined for the depths. Cross-play and the XB Game Pass will help, but it’s on Rare to have some pretty hefty plans for launch, and looking ahead. I genuinely look forward to seeing what this game becomes, and hope theirs is a fruitful venture. But without a surge of content or fixes to address the lacking social content, I could see the game drowning within months. Potentially even a month, depending on how much launch content they have tucked away.


    With all that said, for all those interested in the game, it releases on March 20th for Xbox One and PC.
    Hope to sink some of yer ships.
    Also look out for a Sea of Thieves GBAtempTV stream I’ll be doing in the morning on launch day around 10 AM PST

    :arrow: Official Site

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  2. leon315

    leon315 POWERLIFTER

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    This is how a good game got destroyed.
     
  3. chartube12

    chartube12 GBAtemp Psycho!

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    In the private beta so sadly i cant comment right now. they made everyone agree to a nda until the game launches.
     
  4. pedro702

    pedro702 GBAtemp Guru

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    tbh it saddens me but i think this game will flop and make rare fail again.
     
  5. mightymuffy

    mightymuffy fatbaldpieeater

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    ...Quite negative there OP..... when you're doing a topic like this balance should be the order of the day, yet you've simply listed everything [potentially] bad you can think of, almost like you're wishing it to fail....

    Anyone actually tried it? I mean come on, even Sony fans can get in on the action as it's also for Windows... it's a riot from what I've played of it up to now, and well worth a go whether you're playing solo or with part of a team ...and I usually hate online. Many of the negatives raised in the OP might be a concern (just like they are with any similar game ;) ) but we'll not know those for sure until after extended plays with the final version, but at the moment it's fun, and isn't that what we want when we fire a game up?

    And hell, it's free with Game Pass, so cheap as anything: use up the 2 weeks free when it releases, or hammer it for a month (by which time we'll know much more about the longevity) all for £8 or equivalent..

    Having played the beta for a while, and we're now in open beta, I can say it's the best thing Rare has done in years! Granted that's not saying an awful lot :lol:, but at the moment it's great fun!
     
  6. pedro702

    pedro702 GBAtemp Guru

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    well i still hope for rare replay to be released on anything but xbox one :P imo the collection is the best thing they did after being bough by microsoft.
     
  7. matthi321

    matthi321 GBAtemp Regular

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    looks like one of those games you need friends to play with for it to be good
     
  8. mightymuffy

    mightymuffy fatbaldpieeater

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    ...Forgot about Rare Replay...:lol: Yeah that's great, but just a UI with a collection of games really so doesn't count hehe. Don't hold your hopes up for the full package being released elsewhere (the Xbox and 360 titles in particular would require work just to get running on a PC, something they might not think is worth it for a budget release)
    TBH I thought Rare's last Nintendo titles went downhill: Starfox Adventures? What the fuck was that?! Only time will tell with Sea of Thieves of course, but it's good fun so far (and I was never impressed with its E3 showings either, so pleasantly surprised with it up to now)
     
  9. pedro702

    pedro702 GBAtemp Guru

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    well starfox adventures wasnt even finished when they handed it to nintendo lol, nintendo itself finished the game, also you can say what you want but starfox adventures is not a bad game at all, its a decent game, sure its not banjo kazooie or conker but still a great game just not as great, also it was nintendo demand to glue starfox in there since the original game was 2 boys in dinosaur land lol.

    xboxone is basicaly a x86 pc so whatever emulates 360 games is already written for x86 architeture and basicaly a moded pc, so if they wanted they could release it :P
     
  10. BlueFox gui

    BlueFox gui SOMEONE

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    i wish i could play this game, it looks really fun
     
  11. DinohScene

    DinohScene Feed Dino to the Sharks

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    Forced PVP... no thanks.
    I do not like games where others can ruin your experience.
     
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  12. StarGazerTom

    StarGazerTom GBAtemp Maniac

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    Looks awful. Sounds awful. Like it's trying to be an MMO without it being an MMO.
     
  13. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    It seems to be one of those games that's mind-numbingly boring when played by yourself and incredibly fun if you have a team, and games like that live or die by consistent releases of new content. It's really 50/50, but it seems to generate a lot of buzz, so it'll probably pay for itself just fine.
     
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  14. pedro702

    pedro702 GBAtemp Guru

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    yeah without having some 3 or 4 firends on your boat the game even seems umplayable since you need to do teamwork for everything, so if the online comunity even drops abit the game will die a very fast death.
     
  15. Joe88

    Joe88 [λ]

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    its gonna flop hard, just very little hype, player intrest
    microsoft should have probably invested both their time and money into something else
     
  16. Hells Malice
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    Hells Malice Are you a bully?

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    Most, if not practically all, articles about Sea of Thieves are positive. There are a lot of positives, but I wanted to take a critical look at some flaws that need to be addressed for the longevity of the game. I'm pretty much just applying some extensive knowledge I have from playing games with similar concepts over the years. Even if the shell is different, the core is the same. Games often lead the same path.

    Like I said though, I do hope Rare pulls up their bootstraps and keeps this game going. I love it. I enjoy the hell out of it, even with how limited it is.


    Actually this game is a blast even solo. I've pretty much determined you're gimping yourself if you play with 3-4 people. Especially 3... The galleon (3-4 man ship) is a really huge, clunky beast to control even with 4 people. The sloop (1-2) however, is incredibly agile and easy to control even with 1 person. With two it's absolutely cake. So far in my playing i've fought 6 galleons, and I sunk 5 of them. Only lost to the 6th because I ran out of supplies. Even then, I think I took 'em with me haha.

    It's definitely a better experience with a crew though, since the few social features that exist are basically designed to be enjoyed with friends.
    Sea of Thieves is hyped enough that i'm certain it'll be a success at launch, but I think player drop off will be pretty brutal if Rare doesn't address the issues.
     
  17. Kawaii

    Kawaii GBAtemp Regular

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    Cant say anything about the game but the exclusive xbox one controller looks badass.the skull glows in the dark

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by Kawaii, Mar 10, 2018
  18. wolf-snake

    wolf-snake GBAtemp Maniac

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    It will fail but not for the reason listed above, it will fail mostly because people only expect the old Rare stuff and will bash the game because its not what they grew up with.
     
  19. ca032769

    ca032769 GBAtemp Regular

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    Yes it sure looks good.

    I bought it when it first came out and am now waiting for my pre-ordered SOF style 2tb external HDD to ship beginning of April. Not sure if I'll get the game and play, I just liked they way they look.

    — Posts automatically merged - Please don't double post! —

    My issue with it is that it's online only.

    I've also pre-ordered the game to have it a part of my collection (controller/2TB HDD/Physical Game), but I really don't have time to play it especially online only. Most likely I'll just keep it sealed unless they offer an update for single player campaign mode.
     
  20. pedro702

    pedro702 GBAtemp Guru

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    whats the point to keep an online only game sealled? xD for collectors is for safe keeping but since its online only in 5 years the servers will probably be closed and the game itself is useless lol.
     
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