Sea of Thieves is now in a closed beta state! I'm excited to be able to share my impressions of what we have in the closed beta, but will probably limit my thoughts to this since I am unsure right now if the Alpha content I played is still under NDA.
The game in this closed beta is a pared down "bespoke pirate experience" which is code for it being more of a demo without all of the features.
That said, I have enough to go on to share my thoughts.
Epic Sailing Experience
Sea of Thieves is the coolest sailing experience in any game bar none. Grouping with any number of players and coordinating your sailing experience on the seas is an amazing adventure.
Controlling cannons, tacking against the wind, furling and unfurling sails, directional sailing with a compass, crows nest spotting, repairing leaks, and so on. It's all legit fun.
Perfect Presentation of Whimsical Pirate Life
For someone like me who simply loves being a pirate, this hits those notes. You can play sea shanties, dig up treasure, pillage other ships and their booty, and even pull off some wicked pirate moves.
At one point we were being chased by another ship and we dropped anchor causing our ship to flip around and face the other direction like something straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
No or Little Progression
There is no economy in the game. Sea of Thieves is about your individual/crew "progression" only in the sense that you accrue gold to buy things. Those things are all cosmetic.
This isn't a game about progressing and growing in pirate awesomeness and prestige with levels, better gear, and stuff. It's a game about jumping in, sailing some missions, blowing other ships out of the water, and calling it a day.
Content is Sparse
This can be attributed somewhat to the closed beta state. As clearly pointed out everywhere, there is only one of the three main factions in the game right now. Alpha had more content than this, but I want to accurately represent the game's content at release too.
I don't think there's a big story. In fact, I wouldn't expect more than than what we have now. Missions, whether you play for the Gold Hoarders or otherwise, is about "fetch questing". "Go here, get this, bring it back."
As a result of the one-dimensional "voyages" (quests), it can feel repetitive very quickly if your only approach to the game is grinding voyages. The real fun happens in between it all.
Sea of Thieves is not a MMO
There has been a misconception floating around for a year that Sea of Thieves is a pirate MMO. I've even seen some people thinking it's like EVE. The answer is clearly no.
Sea of Thieves is an online action adventure.
The entire game is about jumping into a play sessions, getting some pirate experiences in, and jumping out.
The maps can hold around 99 people according to the Microsoft store description. In many cases, you'll go a really long time without encountering too many other players, but that may change at launch.
Death Really Doesn't Matter
I'm categorizing this as "indifferent" because I think it goes both ways. On one hand, when you die and lose nothing it makes getting right back in a fun experience.
Since death doesn't sting, it's also super arcade-like. There's no downside to losing your ship. It simply respawns. If you die during a battle you can come right back.
Some people -- myself included -- like it because we won't spend hours just to lose our progress to gankers. Other people -- myself included again -- want to feel that sense of ownership and progress which doesn't matter if death costs nothing. Without risk, there's little reward.
Is Sea of Thieves Worth $60?
I'm seeing the price tag thrown around as a reason why some people aren't getting the game. It's a standard price game. No, it's not on Steam so you can't refund it if you don't like it.
Sea of Thieves has a lot of "make your own fun" gameplay. If you don't like the idea of being given a blank slate and a compass and being let loose on a map to pillage other ships, it's probably not a game for you.
I bought the game. If nothing else, I'll have plenty of pirate experiences to justify the cost of admission. Will this be a game I'm playing 3 months from now? Probably not, unless they plan to add a whole lot more content.