‘Sea of Thieves’ Hands-On Impressions

Doug Trein

Sea of Thieves, the pirate-themed adventure game developed by Rare, had a playable build this year at Microsoft’s booth at E3 2016. Surrounded by treasure chests, statues of skeletons, and a lively pirate band playing shanties, players had the chance to take to the seas with a small group of other players. A Rare developer took on the role of captain and helped explain some of the exciting elements of this open-world game.

The demo spawned all players on the shore of an island with a ship in front of them. Every player had a slew of items on their person, including a mug of grog, planks of wood, and varying musical instruments they could play. Drinking too much grog would get the player drunk, hindering their movement and vision. Each player’s different musical instrument can be easily synced up to play songs together. Plenty of groups were goofing around with their items before setting sail.


The 15-minute demo of Sea of Thieves was primarily focused around sailing in a ship and ship combat. It became apparent quite quickly that crews need to communicate in order to keep things running smooth. Players had to let down the sails of the ship, and could adjust their angle to adjust for speed. One player had to take the wheel to steer the ship. Despite steering, the view from behind the wheel isn’t quite good enough to see where to go. Other players either took to the front of the ship, or up in the crow’s nest, and would direct the navigator where to go.


Not long after settling sail, our crew ran into a pirate ship out in the distance. We closed the gap quickly and they came up against our port side. The two remaining crew members manned the cannons and fired away! We exchanged some good shots but took some damage as well. Once the pirate ship was behind us, crew members went below deck to plug up any damage to the ship’s hull. The wood planks in our inventory were used to nail boards into those holes. Our ship filled with water up to our ankles, but we were still afloat, and we tended to our damage quickly enough to prepare for another round.


The pirate ship came in for another pass, and we let forth a volley of cannonballs and damaged it significantly. Just as the ship passed us by, we could see it begin to tilt in the water. A few more moments and it sank entirely. But our crew wasn’t yet entirely in the clear. While we were distracted, another pirate ship approached from behind and we were completely exposed. They overwhelmed us with a few shots and our ship was in dire straights. All crew-hands went below deck to repair the damages, but we couldn’t work fast enough to plug the holes. Before long, below deck was entirely flooded and we had to abandon ship. The entire crew jumped overboard and once it was clear our ship was lost the game respawned us back on the island.

After getting attacked from behind, our ship was sent to Davy Jones

The demo ended shortly after that, but our crew got a good taste of what to expect in Sea of Thieves. For players who love to play co-op adventure games with their friends, this will be the game for you. The game requires a steady amount of communication in order to run a vessel, and the best crews out on the seas will surely be excellent communicators. It still remains to be seen if there will be discoverable treasure and other player incentives for embarking on the seas to help provide some replay value.

Sea of Thieves will be released for Xbox One and Windows 10 sometime in 2017.

Doug Trein
Doug Trein is a staff contributor at Fandom and focuses primarily on video games and animated television shows. His game genre favorites include strategy and turn-based role-playing games, first-person shooters, 2D fighting games, and action/adventure titles.
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