Sea of Thieves will likely be a polarizing game; we’re already hearing from people who love its freeform nature and others who are frustrated by the lack of clear direction. And that lack of basic player education is most apparent in the first few minutes of the game.
I’m hesitant to even call this a good or a bad thing, because it’s going to heavily depend on your taste and how bored you are of tutorials that teach you every little thing.
Sea of Thieves teaches you nothing, which is an issue in a game that introduces so many complications into what would be simple actions in other games. It can be fun to figure out what you have to do if you’re with friends — being a bumbling pirate is part of the game’s charm — but I found it more frustrating than friendly.
For example, to get started on a voyage you have to purchase up to three voyages from the shacks around the starting area and then head to your ship. Once you’re on your ship you have to ... um ... do something?
This took us a while to figure out, actually. So we set sail for a random island after figuring out how to fit the sails and navigate, and then we sank our ship due to incompetence. I’m not saying we’re good pirates, I just wish we were failing in the service of completing one of the game’s objectives.
The secret is that you have to find the Captain’s table within the ship, choose a voyage and then your team has to vote on it. This isn’t a big deal once you understand what you have to do, but I can see new players wandering around for a bit before figuring out what the steps are. Again, the game doesn’t really explain any of this or provide any real direction about what to do next.
I’m curious about how other players will react to the opening portion of the game as more people play it; Sea of Thieves is all about finding your own fun and learning as you go, but that approach isn’t going to appeal to everyone. Sea of Thieves feels very different than anything else on the market right now, for better or worse.