Sea of Thieves - Closed Beta Impressions

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WasabiIceCream

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Edited By WasabiIceCream

So, I've been playing this A LOT for the past week. I've gotten to Gold Hoarders rank 25, and purchased most of the items currently in the Beta. First of all, I love the atmosphere this game has. The sailing and water physics are spot on, the weather system generates dynamic winds and thunderstorms, dynamic rain and water will build up and slowly fill your ship, waves toss you around, graphics and lighting effects are beautiful, sound design is extremely immersive with creaking wood, rustling bushes, and clacking buckles. It all makes this game very fun to just sail around and explore.

But, I think that's all it has going for it. You WANT to explore, but there's no reason to at all. You can't interact with the world at all, and there is no loot to find or craft. Only cosmetic skins for your clothes, items, and ship. The only things you can find in the world are Bananas, Wood Planks, Cannonballs, and Treasure Chests that you can't open. The gameplay loop of the Beta is to buy a map to a chest, which can either be a series of riddles to the treasure's location, or a picture of a random island that you have to find and navigate to. Sail to the island, either solve the riddles leading to the treasure (these were actually pretty fun for a bit), or use only the picture of the island to navigate to the "X Marks The Spot". You dig up the treasures, and sell them back at the Outposts for gold to buy more maps, and do it all again. It's fun the first few times, until you realize that's all there is. The final version of the game is supposed to have other repetitive tasks to do, but they're all essentially fetch quests. Go there, do this, get that, bring it back, then you get to do it again.

There's also a big emphasis on PvP. Even though there is some (extremely bad) PvE combat, it's just ~3 variants of braindead skeletons, who are minor annoyances at the worst. The real threats are the human pirate players that are sailing around, also looking for treasures, and more often than not, will try to destroy you on sight. For this reason, even though I prefer playing solo, I wouldn't recommend it. 4-player squads, or even 2-man squads can easily wreck a solo player, if you're not experienced enough to navigate the seas. The real fun comes from dicking around with friends, or other random players. You'll get the most out of the game if you entertain yourself, actually roleplay as a pirate, hunt other players and steal their shit.

For me, it's not what I want. I want to interact with the world, or have the world react to me. I ran into a cave, where there was a skeleton, and his skull and rib-cage were filled with a ton of bananas. All I could do was look at it and laugh to myself. Then, found another cave that had a bunch of books and candles in what seemed like a shrine, or something. I wanted to pick up the books, and couldn't. You'll see bottles of potions, or some such, can't touch them. You want to open all the treasure chests you find, and can't. You want to steal other players' ships, but can't, because they act as an infinite respawn point. That's the whole game, look but don't touch. Personally, just seems like a HUGE step backwards for this type of game. Especially when the $60 price tag barges into the conversation.

Everyone wants to make the comparison; No Man's Sky launched with more content, even without multiplayer.

Obviously, this IS just the Closed Beta period, and Rare has decided to hold back a majority of the content, even removing things that were in the previous Alpha testing phase. This decision is probably going to bite them in the ass, now that NDAs are lifted, and a lot of people are streaming and experiencing the game in this state. Knowing what the full game entails, I still don't think it would change anything. The Beta has been datamined, and there will be more stuff, but from the looks of it, there will just be more not very fun things to do, to get no loot, and no real progression, unless you really want that new hat, or socks and shoes, or want to put a lion on the front of your ship, or something.

It's a pirate game with no booty.

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ThePanzini

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#1  Edited By ThePanzini  Online

I have serious doubts Rare's holding back mountains of content for release its pretty much the same game I played in the alpha a year ago.

The moment-to-moment gameplay ain't great is has alot of downtime with some very unengaging combat, seemingly all in service for rep grinders for better hats which isn't reason enough to keep playing for me.

At $60 SoT would struggle but Game Pass should give it a chance depending how quickly Rare can add new content which so far has been glacial.

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Jesus_Phish

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From watching the Unfinished it certainly looked like they'd run out of stuff to do pretty quickly, beta or no. The loop you describe sounds terrible. It sounds like it's less about exploration and finding cool stuff and just using the treasure maps. I don't know if she's just incredibly good or lucky at it, but Abby seemed to be able to find every chest they went looking for within about 30 seconds of getting onto the island - meaning there's no real exploration of the island.

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OurSin_360

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But can you cannonball yourself to enemy ships and steal all their booze?

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SocietySays

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Am I crazy to wish this game had more consequence to its pvp? If you could upgrade your ship and have a chance at losing it permanently it would help make the game feel more meaningful.

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skyline7284

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As I mentioned in a different thread, I've been playing since last summer and it has always felt like a free-to-play game. It feels like all of the work went into the art and presentation, and then they had to design a game around it.

Viva Pinata had depth to the gameplay in addition to astounding presentation. Sea Of Thieves lacks any reason to continue playing as far as I can tell. You get a map, sail to the island, solve a riddle, sail the chest to an outpost, rinse and repeat.

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DirtyBirdy

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I'd much rather play Guns of Icarus. It's all the parts of Sea of Thieves that are good (and much more) without all the crappy bits. Speaking of which, I think I'm going to go play some GoI...

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Brackstone

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I can't see a scenario where this game comes out in 2 months as a fulfilling product. It seems to lack both mechanical depth and variety in it's gameplay scenarios. The naval stuff is great, but the foot combat makes Skyrim look like Dark Souls. It's similar to Friday the 13th, a game lacking mechanical depth and polish but providing a unique sandbox for roleplaying with friends. It will be popular with rp streamers who can make an entertaining video but will burn out rapidly.

Apart from content issues, there's a lot of stuff they need to sort out to stop the game from descending into a GTA online-esque hellscape of griefing. The brig system, respawning, camping outposts, camping spawns. Camping outposts is the biggest one. They say they want no safe zones, but a crew sitting on an outpost to steal chests is the sort of thing that will make people quit and never look back.

Also I greatly admire their intent in making pvp a level playing field with no pvp upgrades, but it makes the whole thing feel sterile. You find a buried treasure and all you can do with it is turn it in for faction rep. I can't think of a more depressing manifestation of current game trends. You never even know what was in it.

A year from now, after a number of updates, this game could really kick ass, but I doubt it will 2 months from now.

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DharmaBum

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#8  Edited By DharmaBum

I share many of the concerns about gameplay depth and quest variety. Right now in its current state it barely feels like a game. The ship vs ship combat is the best thing Sea of Thieves has going for it, whereas the on foot gun/swordplay needs improvement. Perhaps the alpha/beta phases were mainly a stress test for the network side of things, but with the game coming out in 2 months I hope they have more up their sleeve and manage to pull it off.

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onarum

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#9  Edited By onarum

But, I think that's all it has going for it. You WANT to explore, but there's no reason to at all. You can't interact with the world at all, and there is no loot to find or craft. Only cosmetic skins for your clothes, items, and ship.

And that right there completely killed any semblance of interest I had for this thing.

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WasabiIceCream

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@onarum said:
@wasabiicecream said:

But, I think that's all it has going for it. You WANT to explore, but there's no reason to at all. You can't interact with the world at all, and there is no loot to find or craft. Only cosmetic skins for your clothes, items, and ship.

And that right there completely killed any semblance of interest I had for this thing.

I guess I should add, what I said there isn't totally correct. The beta does have 1 additional weapon, the Blunderbuss. Also, in the information that was datamined from the Beta, there's data for a Harpoon Gun for the ship, as well as 4 more additional weapons for the player. I'd assume the full game will have more that you can purchase from the NPCs.

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onarum

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@wasabiicecream: Still not nearly enough, it's clearly meant to be a game where the main draw is to find other people to fight, it's pretty much a fancier version of Guns of Icarus in a way.

I mean of course it can be super fun for people that are in that sorta thing, which is most definitely not my case.

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wallee321

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Watching the Unfinished for over an hour last night, it seemed barren, just like all the times they showed it before. The wave tech looks really pretty, but that's about it. Could be like Destiny 1 beta, people end up being excited because they only saw a small portion of the game say five or ten percent. Then when the game does come out the beta was actually more like a quarter of the game.

Maybe in 1.5 years of continued development, this could turn into something special, if Rare is responsive to the community and MS is willing to let a live game go through some growing pains, which I have some serious doubts about.

I won't buy this game, but if I could wrangle some real life friends to pay for game pass for a month, maybe.

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Wandrecanada

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It's important to note that there are 3 factions within the game and only 1 of them was present in the beta. The other 2 factions add a lot of varied content that create a lot more variation in what you could encounter in the wider game.

The merchant faction hosts missions that require you to move fragile cargo (plus the powder kegs) from one location to another. They also trade in wildlife you can capture on the islands. This is will make for more meaningful targets at sea since some ships will have straight valuable cargo just sitting in piles on ships.

The magic faction hosts missions that ask you to recover cursed pirate talismans and the skulls of powerful cursed pirate captains. This faction will be where you go when you want want to fight non human players in dark unexplored caves.

This should give you a lot more to do and see in the full game and even possibly make it more interesting for players who want to run solo or two player crews. It should also make encounters with other ships far more interesting.

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triviaman09

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#14  Edited By triviaman09

The water looks really goodthough..

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kcin

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I fully love the ship combat in this game. I keep thinking about it, needing more of it. The only problem, of course, is how barren everything else about this game is. I've sought information about what will be in the full game which is not here in the beta, and I've been trying to convince myself that there's more to it than there appears to be, but...I don't know. For example, there will be wildlife other than sharks, and there will be food other than bananas. However, the wildlife exposed so far is pigs, chickens, and snakes. No mention of whales, or dolphins, or fish. No idea if there will be dangerous fauna on-land with which to contend. The chicken, pigs, and snakes are, to the public's knowledge, only there to be collected and traded. I am compelled to think that there will be more dangerous wildlife, and sealife to stumble upon, but no actual information informs that guess. There is only one confirmed sea creature: the kraken. That's cool, but there's gonna have to be more than one enemy. And the food confirmed through datamining includes pomegranates, coconuts, and pineapples. But really, what are we talking about here? Different shapes of the same thing?

I also want to believe there will be something to upgrade, somewhere. Datamining has again confirmed a harpoon, and modifications to cannons and other parts of your ship, but there's nothing that suggests these changes are anything more than cosmetic. I want to believe that you can get a bigger ship, more cannons, and different kinds of shot for your cannons, because pirate games immemorial have included these things, but...there's nothing to suggest this stuff is in the game, really. Just hope.

And I want islands to have something to offer if you decide to just check them out on a whim. As it is, they offer you nothing at all. They have structures on them, but nothing contained in those structures, and sometimes no enemies, either. Can you 'take' the islands? Cannons positioned around some islands suggest you can; they also suggest they will have inhabitants. But will they? Will the islands offer anything if you don't have an assigned mission on them? I hope so, but again, nothing definitely says they will. And what of the enemies? The only enemy type is the skeleton, and unfortunately, the only enemy type seen in any game footage is the skeleton. That doesn't bode well.

In the end, I (and a lot of us, probably) have to face the reality that things that seem like they SHOULD be in the game aren't necessarily GOING to be in the game. Don't buy into hype, just wait and see.

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Wandrecanada

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@kcin: Check my post 2 posts up. If you're looking for info Eurogamer has a more in depth infodump on content that was missing in the beta.

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kcin

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@kcin: Check my post 2 posts up. If you're looking for info Eurogamer has a more in depth infodump on content that was missing in the beta.

I read your post, and I read those articles about the other factions and stuff. I read all info I can possibly find about this game, and that's basically why I said what I said: everything I am concerned about is, thus far, unaddressed.

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Sweep

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#18 Sweep  Moderator

@kcin said:

In the end, I (and a lot of us, probably) have to face the reality that things that seem like they SHOULD be in the game aren't necessarily GOING to be in the game. Don't buy into hype, just wait and see.

Pretty much this. I lost a lot of sympathy for people complaining about No Mans Sky because, ultimately, nobody forced them to preorder. I know the marketing was deceptive but if you can't afford to waste your money then it seems stupid to gamble it on hollow promises. I feel the same about Sea Of Thieves. It looks great, and Rare seems to be promising a lot more than is currently available in the beta, but we should all know by now that it's better to wait for reviews than to buy into the hype.

I should add that it really doesn't help that Rare have transparently been targeting the most popular streamers with their beta. SoT seems to be everywhere online, youtube is almost constantly recommending me videos of people playing it. Regardless of how much fun they seem to be having, i'm going to wait.

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Jesus_Phish

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#19  Edited By Jesus_Phish

@sweep: Hearing Brad be so surprised that it was number 1 on Twitch surprised me. People will watch their favourite Twitch personalities play anything and everything and something like the SoT beta - as barren as it appears to be - is a perfect streamer game. There's long lulls of nothing happening for the streamer to talk to their fans and when something happens it the perfect time for hi-jinks and high energy.

Of course Rare/MS would go with this method of promoting their game.

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Sweep

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#20 Sweep  Moderator

@jesus_phish: Right, the problem is the majority of streamers don't disclose when they're being paid to promote/feature the game and are under a lot of pressure from publishers to make positive comments and spend a certain amount of time playing. It gives the impression that the game has a lot more long-term replayability than it actually does, which I think is going to disappoint a lot of people when it comes to full release.

Let's just hope that these meaningful additions they're promising for the full release make it worth a purchase, because right now it doesn't seem like good value for money.

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