The Other Save Slot

I decided to break the bank and buy Microsoft’s Sea of Thieves. It’s a game that I liked the idea of when it was first advertised. However, like a number of people, I was put off by initial reviews claiming a lack of content. In the two or so years that the game has been out, a lot of content upgrades have been released and I now feel it’s time for me to pull on an eye-patch and shout Aaargh! Jim Lad 🙂

One of the first things to understand about this game is that it is a player vs player sandbox with a lot of ai things thrown in too. It is also intended that you should play with friends and each vessel is designed to be crewed by multiple players. However, it can be played as a single player game – which is what I’m currently doing. The general advice found on the internet is – if you’re thinking of playing solo… Don’t… If you must, sail the Sloop. However, I’ve seen lots of videos of solo players enjoying themselves in this game and they finally swung the decision for me to join in.

There’s a steep learning curve from a muscle memory/controls point of view. Some of the keyboard controls feel very odd to me coming into the game from The Hunter COTW, for example, and I’m having some serious adaptation issues currently. However, it will come with practise. You start out somewhere off the map and get basic guidance from a long dead Sea Captain by doing the Maiden Voyage. The emphasis is on the basic. It’s clear that the developers, Rare, along with Microsoft, want you to find your own way in the game including learning how to employ the tools that you’ve been given. After the short tutorial which really teaches little, you are sent on your way through the portal to the main map…

From this point onwards you’re on your own – although there are lots of fan made tutorial videos out there on YouTube. One key thing that comes across in a lot of those videos is the need for the right mindset. This is PvP and if you can’t handle getting killed by other human players then this probably isn’t the game for you. One interesting thing about the PvP side of this game is the weapons – Rare have decided that they will be same for everyone regardless of how many ranks you’ve risen up the tree – a cutlass, for example, will always deal the same amount of damage for any mode of attack the player employs. Any upgrades you buy are purely cosmetic. So the only way to gain an advantage (without hacking the game) is to grow a skillset that allows you to out perform your opponent either in combat or in running away! Even diplomacy can be a good skill to learn in this game as friendly collaboration can be a good way forward for some of the challenges – although treachery should always be expected. These are aspects of the game that I will have to learn over time.

The irony is, I’ve been killed 4 times since I started and I’ve yet to meet another player. The ai and the weather conditions provide a good amount of challenge for the new player – there is so much to learn and some of what you thought you learned from any video tutorials on YouTube can prove to be a false guide. I’ve been suckered in by a crafty skeleton captain – encouraged to come close so he could blow us both up with a powder keg 😉 And I’ve been defeated by another one because I couldn’t get the right weapon sorted out – I find there is a bit of lag in the things you do in the game, at least compared to what I’m used to in other games I play. I’ve had a skeleton ship surface next to me – the advice was ignore them and they’ll probably go away – they didn’t 😉 These are all things that I’ll handle better with experience.

One final experience I had today was a real challenge. After digging up a treasure chest on one island as part of a mission, I was working out where I needed to go to next when the sky grew dark and the rain started falling. I quickly realised that my sloop was taking on water, so I started bailing. However, I could hear the ship’s bell ringing intermittently too. Moving up to the top deck I found we were swing around helplessly as the wheel moved of its own accord. I realised I was going to have to get the ship under way to get some measure of control so I raised the anchor and unfurled the sail. With the compass spinning uncontrollably, I spent the next 15 minutes trying to hold a course out of the storm whilst avoiding rocks and taking short spells at bailing out the ever incoming water. Finally I got clear and the feeling of elation at having survived the storm was palpable. There is definitely much more to this game than a PvP sandbox 🙂

While the graphics have a cartoonish element they are, none the less, quite beautiful and if the game gives you a moment of pause to enjoy your surroundings you should do so……However, I’m left wondering how best to post about this game in the future as it’s rare to have moments of calm with the need to look after your vessel. I suspect it will become a game best reported using video captures, especially as the developers haven’t provided an in-game camera! Hopefuly I’ll be back with another report in the not too distant future. In the meantime, don’t overdo the grog me hearties! 🙂

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