Sea of Thieves Hands-on Preview
Sea of Thieves Hands-on Box Art
System: Xbox One, PC
Dev: Rare
Pub: Microsoft
Release: 2016
Players: TBA
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating.

Have you been paying attention to Sea of Thieves? It's a pirate simulator from Rare. Though, from what I played at E3, it's primarily a constant fight of ship against ship. Players work together with a team of up to five in an attempt to take on any other crews who might happen to be roaming the high seas. Really, anyone. It's you against the world in Sea of Thieves, and that's delightful.

When I stepped on board Sea of Thieves' ship as Cannonball Chris, I immediately had to set to work. First, our crew had to raise the anchor. This involved four of us gathering around a spindle in the center of the ship, working together to turn it. From there, we had to set the sails. You actually have to find the rigging, check to make sure it's properly catching the wind, and arrange it to set sail. Once that's done, it's off to search for adventure. We were able to take turns steering the ship, trying to find another group of players on board their own vessel.

Sea of Thieves Hands-on Screenshot

It didn't take long. Soon, another ship appeared on the horizon. We learned that every ship has its own crew of real people, and we began our approach. The goal? Sink your opponent, of course! While one player steered, the rest of us each headed to cannons on the appropriate side to launch attacks. While every action was as easy as pressing X to begin and, in the case of cannons, using the directional stick to aim and right trigger to fire, there was a sense of purpose and strategy. You had to arc things just right to hit enemies.

Of course, we started taking damage during this firefight too. Since we all had headsets and could communicate, I volunteered to head below decks to fix things. You can cycle through held items. Bringing up wood allowed me to approach holes in the bow to repair them, keeping the ship from taking on more water.

It's all incredibly realistic. There are all these details that factor into keeping a ship afloat. You need a capable crew willing to communicate. Yet, there was levity as well. My character could switch to hold a metal mug, from which he could chug. I could pull out an accordian for a sea shanty. As our ship took on an unavoidable amount of water, due to another boat appearing, I did all I could do. I stood on deck and played my instrument.

Sea of Thieves Hands-on Screenshot

That bit of whimsy, combined with the character designs, helps keep everything from being too grave. Because Sea of Thieves absolutely could have been. As I went through this demo, I could see serious undertones. There's a level of professionalism here in the tasks that can be accomplished on the ship. Those who get invested will be able to seriously role play life as a pirate, putting together a perfect crew. Even in this early demo, I can see the promise and potential of what could come. Yet, those just in it for fun will be able to enjoy it in a more superficial way.

Sea of Thieves Hands-on Screenshot

Before E3, I had a list of games I was going to run in and play. I had things that I knew I'd need to see. Sea of Thieves wasn't on that list. If I'd known then what I know now, I would have run to this demo station first. This game has so much potential. It's going to offer an experience that Xbox One and Windows 10 players of all ages and skill levels are going to enjoy. From what I've seen, I think everyone will be able to find a place for themselves on the high seas.

Jenni Lada
Site Liaison
June 27, 2016

Game Features:

  • The freedom of the pirate life awaits with Sea of Thieves, an epic multiplayer adventure game in an immersive shared world.
  • Be the pirate you want to be - with musket loaded and grog in hand, you'll crew up with friends and set sail for epic adventures.
  • Navigate the perils of a fantastical world and the danger of rival crews, where every sail on the horizon is another player.

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