There are just video game experiences that transcend the entire concept of video gaming. One of the most obvious examples of that effect was the rhythm game, Rock Band. You and your friends always wanted to be in a world-famous rock band, and that title allowed you to recapture that experience.
Now there is Sea of Thieves; a new multiplayer title from Rare that allows you and friends to command a pirate ship as you plunder, drink, play music, do battle with other player-controlled ships, and live the pirate lifestyle you always imagined living before you ever knew scurvy was a thing.
Yes, the world of Sea of Thieves is a cartoonish take on the pirate lifestyle, but that’s the brilliance of it. The game envokes the spirit of those days spent on the playground just goofing around with your buddies and letting your imagination do all the work. The difference is that Sea of Thieves doesn’t demand quite so much of your imagination. Even in the game’s earliest stages – it is only currently available in a limited form via a closed beta period – it’s clear that Rare has packed the impressively large world of Sea of Thieves with more than enough to do.
What’s truly impressive about Sea of Thieves‘ content offerings, though, are the little touches. Things like hearing the voice chat of opposing players as you do ship to ship battle or having the option to lock players in the brig – a diversion that never ends well – ensure that even the most uncreative of players grin from ear to ear while playing. If you so happen to play Sea of Thieves with a group of companions willing to talk like pirates, coordinate duties, and maybe even sail off while your shipmate is still on an island, that’s when the game reveals itself as a truly magical experience.
That’s also kind of the problem with Sea of Thieves as it relates to what it can do for the Xbox One.
For some time now, we’ve heard people say that the Xbox One is in dire need of a killer app experience. That’s not entirely true. It’s actually in need of several killer app experiences that will convince millions of gamers that it is indeed worth buying an Xbox One after all this time. Sea of Thieves is looking like one of those experiences, but it’s a strange kind of killer app. It’s the kind that demands you play with not only a group of gamers you are able to communicate with, but that you preferably play it with a group of gamers that you personally know and who are able to turn even the dullest moments into a fun time.
That’s a bit of a problem in terms of Sea of Thieves‘ ability to move Xbox Ones. For one thing, it’s tough enough for people to find the right group of gamers who will be willing to play this game the way it was meant to be played. Already, we’ve heard reports from beta players who have tried to match with random crew members and discovered they weren’t having near as much fun as some of the most popular streamers have been having with the game. That’s a problem that doesn’t become any easier to resolve when you consider that those ideal friends need to also own an Xbox One or a fairly capable PC along with their own copies of the game.
Sea of Thieves is an easy game to root for because its inventive, welcome, and the kind of game that exists for you to have fun with. In some ways, it reminds me of the most exciting VR titles, though. They’re undeniably exciting experiences, but they’re hindered by hardware requirements and a somewhat limited scope that may ensure they’re never played by as large of a group of gamers that would enjoy them.