Sea of Salty Thieves

Sea of Salty Thieves

Sea of Thieves came out today! Yes, that’s an exclamation point at the end of that sentence. I used one because I’m excited. That’s a statement coming from someone who played the alpha and beta tests, and knew exactly what kind of game I was getting.

I’ve written a few times now about what kind of game Sea of Thieves is and what kind of game Sea of Thieves is not.

Despite there being no room for confusion after so many beta tests being open to the public, and so many people streaming the game, there are still countless salty sea dogs posting bad reviews on meta critic, reddit, and anywhere they can share their opinions. Most of them are complaining about what the game is not.

Let’s once again make it clear — Sea of Thieves is an action-adventure game. It’s one of those fun ‘sail the seas and find treasure’ games.

Sea of Thieves is not…

  • A hardcore pirate survival game
  • A survival game of any kind
  • A Battle Royale
  • An MMORPG of any type
  • EVE on the high seas
  • A sandbox
  • A game with player economy
  • Anything remotely close to an RPG

I don’t think it’s fair to review a game poorly because it wasn’t the type of game you wanted it to be. Review it for what it is and its systems, mechanics, and features. If you think the lack of item diversity sucks, that’s fair. If you think the combat sucks, that fair. If you think there aren’t diverse enough monsters, that’s fair. Saying, “I give this game 1 out of 5 stars because it isn’t a pirate mmorpg” is asinine.

Also, it’s not fair to call the game “No Man’s Sea” either. Why? Because they NEVER promised a game and failed to deliver on their promise. In fact, my biggest critique for years was wondering what kind of game Sea of Thieves was going to turn out to be.

People have every right to be disappointed that there aren’t some really cool potential features. I’ll raise my hand as one of those people. I had lots of hopes that my imagination concocted, but that’s not the game Microsoft made. I hope they’ll add a lot of the things on my Sea of Thieves wishlist, but my hopes aren’t high.

Hate the game for what it is, not for what it isn’t.

I think Sea of Thieves is a fun, casual, sail the ocean in the evening with my brother kind of game. We’ll find treasures, fight other pirates, and have a splendid time. Yes, I paid $60. I’ll get my $60 out of it for sure. We all have different price sensitivity thresholds, and if yours is sensitive enough to skip then that’s 100% a valid reason.

But did you know you don’t have to pay any money to play the game and try it out?

How to Play Sea of Thieves FREE for 14 Days

You can sign up for a 14 day free trial of Xbox Game Pass and play Sea of Thieves on PC or Xbox one RIGHT NOW. Yep, that’s right, for no money at all. Graev is currently playing this way. And guess what? Once your trial runs out, it’s $10 a month. You could play for 6 months before reaching the $60 I paid (yes, I wish I did this).

So instead of listening to the vitriol from the social media or streamer communities and missing out on the game, get out there and try it yourself for free.

THEN, good or bad, come back and tell me what you think.

  • This game is just horribly boring even with two galleons of friends and winning every battle and turning in ships full of loot. There is nothing cool to buy. I literally want none of the offered cosmetics. I don’t see any reason to play this game if fun is what you’re looking for. It’ll be dead in 3 months. I don’t see what they can do to it to make me want to play again. The map is too small. The islands are boring to explore. The quests are all the same and very boring. Boring is the word.

    • Dead in 3 months or 3 weeks is irrelevant these days. I haven’t played a game lately that hasn’t been dead to me in 3 months. Even games I’ve adored: Assassin’s Creed, Mario Odyssey, etc. That doesn’t make them horrible. That’s a value proposition question to which we all will have varying degrees of sensitivity.

      We’ve known the rewards would only be cosmetic for months. Having nothing “cool” to buy doesn’t make the game horrible either. Overwatch only has cosmetics — and you get most of those randomly! So we can remove that from the “makes the game horrible” list.

      Critiques on map size, island purpose, and quests being samey, however, are all valid critiques that I share with you.

  • If you don’t think the developers suggested the game contained at least some of the things on your list, you should go read the website. I did a whole post on just how misleading the information there was. It’s entirely understandable that people thought they were buying an entirely different game, based on the promotional material.

    • I must have missed all of that. My problem was always a lack of information about what kind of game this was going to be, not that they were making promises and hyping us up just to let us down with false pretenses.

      Once the game became shareable, everyone involved quickly spread the word. People had numerous opportunities to jump in — even now for free.

      I’d like to know in more detail what was promised and not delivered — not because I don’t believe it, but because I haven’t seen it. If they ever promised it was going to be the things on that list, then they DO absolutely deserve to be shamed.

  • I think there are a couple of lessons here:

    1) Regardless of what you’re selling, it is your responsibility to manage expectations. Rightly or wrongly, a lot of people had misplaced expectations about what Sea of Thieves is.

    Maybe it’s not “No Man’s Sea” in the sense that the game is unfinished, but they share clear similarities when comparing what people expected vs what they got. Who’s fault is that? It’s the devs job to explain, communicate clearly, and manage expectations. This is especially true if your product does not fit neatly into existing categories.

    2) Gamers are just awful people. The gaming “community” is often a toxic, terrible, and unforgiving place. People will go out of their way to make you miserable for fun. Don’t expect people to behave any better than they do in games like Rust. Spamming metacritic with 1/10 reviews is nothing new. It’s like Lord of the Flies out there.

    • I think there’s a difference between managing assumptions and managing expectations. In the case of No Man’s Sky, the developers seemingly misled the players to expect something they weren’t going to deliver. In the case of Sea of Thieves, the developers didn’t articulate the game well enough to (early on) help players align or eliminate their assumptions.

      There’s still responsibility and burden on both sides, but in this case I think it falls a bit more on the people.

  • Penny Arcade had an interesting post that the launch was not smooth, and people weren’t able to get on and play together. It seems like their stress tests weren’t up to snuff. I’m wondering if some of that is why the reviews are coming in low.

    As for the game itself, I seem to remember you (@Keen), were very excited about many of the different possibilities the game purposed, but I didn’t see the promotional material in the same light. I give more weight to reviewers who have shown a similar taste as mine. Some people are wrong, and that is ok too.

    • Over the years I was definitely waxing poetic about the possibilities. I do believe many of those possibilities remain. Therein is the key, however. Possibilities, not proposed features. Things -I- wanted, not things Rare said they were making. Hence why I can be disappointed I can’t build my own pirate island, but can’t go mark them down review points or cry on forums because they failed to give me a game about building a pirate base.

      I share the opinion of Mike from Penny Arcade, who also enjoys the game. I’ll also echo his statement, or that of his son, “sometimes you can just play games for the joy.”

      • Sorry, that may have come out as me thinking you were wrong, and that is not intended. I agree with the statement that some people put more into the promise of a game than the game itself. I hate when a game promises so much and doesn’t hardly any. That game doesn’t sound like they didn’t deliver, I’ve heard its a joy to play and that many people are unhappy with it because of “reasons.”

        I would love to have a pirate “city builder” sim or RPG.

  • I am seeing a LOT of comments from people who, like you say, are criticizing the game for not being what they expected or wanted it to be (whether or not it was promoted as such). I think that’s silly. Apart from RARE (no pun intended) exceptions (like NMS where expectations were hugely inflated as a direct result of the game studio’s actions), criticize the game for what it is, otherwise you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

    As for myself, given what I knew about the game, I had absolutely zero intention of buying a copy to play by myself for $60. Most of my gamer friends had little or no interest in it for that price unless others were willing, and nobody was really willing to be the first one to buy in. But then I showed my wife, who is not a gamer, a video about the game and she said it looked like a lot of fun and something she’d love to play with me.

    So I did a bit of digging and saw that I could get a two-week free trial of the Xbox Game Pass thing (and $10/month after that) for a PC copy, AND I was already in the market for an XB1X, AND I found a good deal on an XB1X with SoT bundled for free, I figured what the hell, so we’ll see what we think.

    Even if we get only a solid two weeks of fun out of it, I will consider that a success. Then in 6 months or so we can revisit it to see what they’ve added.

  • This is strange as I also thought this was going to be an elaborate pirate ship RPG MMO experience, but when one looks at their statements they clearly said it wouldn’t be an MMO.

    Maybe I fell into that expectation by friends hyping me as how we could form crews and fight on the seas, and my imagination filled in the rest, as all case of similar party experiences occurred in MMO’s?

    It was my error and I am glad I didn’t pre-purchase based upon my own unrealistic expectations.

  • Interesting how a 3 monther (a term I think you came up with) is now like the best case scenario.