Sea of Thieves Review: What You Need To Know Before You Buy

Sea of Thieves Review

​Sea of Thieves Review: What You Need to Know Before Buying​

I started playing Sea of Thieves while it was still in its Beta stage, along with millions of other people around the world. When the Beta first came out, Sea of Thieves was noticeably lacking in content, but that is usually how Beta’s are. There were a lot of promises for more content once the game was officially released. I decided to review Sea of Thieves based on a number of things: content, visuals, gameplay and mechanics, overall fun factor, and what the games main goal is. So, let’s jump right in.

Sea of Thieves is a pirate adventure game the likes we have never seen. Developed by Rare, who brought us classics such as Banjo-Kazooie, Sea of Thieves allows you and your friends to join together as a crew and take on the high seas as a band of pirates in a mysterious place known as the Sea of Thieves. When it was released on March 20th, Sea of Thieves was the hot new game with most people loving it. Which was a good thing considering development took almost four years. While it sold over 2 million copies before its first month was up, Sea of Thieves’ numbers have started to decline due to the lack of overall content.

Sea of Thieves: Story

Here is the bottom line: there is no story. That is of course unless you go looking to create one yourself. As of right now Sea of Thieves does not have a story mode. It is purely an open world action game where you can explore and be a pirate. There are talks about story content coming in the future, but they aren’t here yet. This is one of the main hang ups with Sea of Thieves. If you are someone who is looking for a good storyline to play through, then this game is absolutely not for you. At least, not yet.

Galleon Sits at an outpost waiting for its crew to sail her on some grand adventure.

Sea of Thieves: Gameplay

Sea of Thieves creates an original spin on hanging out with friends. You and three others get to crew a galleon together as pirates while searching for treasure and fighting enemy crews. Before you do this, you will have to choose your character.

Sea of Thieves has a limited number of characters and items right now, but there are a ton of different skins. For example, when you are choosing your character there are seven different base characters to choose from. These base characters all can be customized later in game, but at the character selection screen their appearance is randomly generated, making each one slightly different. If you don’t like any of the seven characters you can select randomize again and again until you find an appearance that is to your liking. This worked well for me when after only one randomization I found a character that looks a lot like myself. However, I can see how this can be annoying and tiresome for other players. It would be much better if you could tweak the base character yourself rather than it being on random.

When you get in the game and start collecting gold, you can start to customize your characters appearance through cosmetics and clothes. Weapons are also customizable in this way.

Sea of Thieves is unique from other open world games in the way that everyone is equal. In games like Call of Duty or World of Warcraft weapons and characters are upgradeable, making it infinitely harder for new players to face off against long time players. In Sea of Thieves none of the weapons are upgradeable except in appearance. This creates an equal playing field for newbies and veterans, making players rely purely on their skill rather than their level. To me this is very refreshing in a game. It is often annoying to start a new game like Call of Duty at level one and just get owned by that player that has already reached prestige three times in the opening weekend. Sea of Thieves’ equal approach makes it so new players feel capable of competing from the beginning and allows players who haven’t played in a while to not fall behind, other than when it comes to the amount of gold in your wallet.

There are a number of activities to get involved with right from the moment you set sail, which in of itself is fun. Sailing makes you feel like you are actually sailing by making you control individual aspects of the ship (sail lenght, direction, map, and wheel) rather than control the whole ship at once. This is one of the special elements of Sea of Thieves.

There are three different factions in the world of Sea of Thieves that offer you money to complete their tasks: Merchant Alliance, Order of Souls, and Gold Hoarders. Each of these factions will send you on a quest to some island in search of some item.

The Merchant Alliance will task you with finding items and livestock to sell to other merchants in the game. These tasks often include sugars, spices, chickens, snakes, and pigs. As interesting as this may seem, or not, they are the least amusing tasks in the game and pay very little compared to the other two factions.

The Gold Hoarders, as you may have guessed, send you in search of buried treasure. These are entertaining as they are the most pirate like. You are given a map of an island with the classic X marking the spot. Some of the challenge comes from having to find the island on your ships big map. The smaller map, which is in your hand, does not contain the name of the island, so you have to physically find it on the big map. Once you find the island, there is little challenge in digging up the gold, unless you are directionally challenged. Occasionally there is the enemy skeleton that will attack you, but they are usually easily defeated. The gold quests can be fun in the beginning, but eventually become dull and redundant. Go to this island, dig up the gold, come back, rinse and repeat.

The Order of Souls is the faction that will give you the most challenge in the game. They task you with going in search of legendary pirates who have died and now have a high price on their head. That is right, you have to go and find their skull and bring it back for profit. There is one little twist, they are undead. So, in order to get the skull, you and your crew will have to fight of a horde of skeletons to kill the skeleton boss.

Taking on these quests from the three factions can stay fresh for a while because there are over sixty islands that you can visit and explore. As you progress through the faction's rankings, their quests will become more long winded and send you on longer and longer quests. This may sound good on paper, but ultimately the quests don’t get harder, just more grindy, and grindy is a great word to describe Sea of Thieves. The only end goal so far is to become a pirate legend. This happens when you reach level 50 with each of the three factions. However, you have to be willing to grind and the end reward isn’t all that worth it right now.

One thing Sea of Thieves is lacking is NPCs. There are some, but they are only on the Outpost islands and they all basically say the same thing. I would love to see more in the future. Maybe be out searching for buried treasure and stumble upon a stranded pirate? That would be pretty interesting. Perhaps this issue comes with the lack of a story mode.

I will take a moment to say that Sea of Thieves has never claimed to be a game with a story. One of its main goals was to bring friends together on an adventure. The developers seem to want players to create their own stories within the Sea of Thieves world. With the right group of friends, this is definitely possible. Even if you are playing solo, you can explore all the islands, which have a lot on them that will allow you to start weaving some of the lore together. For example, on the Ancient Islands there are a lot of cave paintings and statues and ruins that clearly have a history and story to them. I would love to one day see some of these play out. Which, they may soon with the first major content update, The Hungering Deep, coming soon.

An enemy ship goes down after a grand cannon battle.

Sea of Thieves: Combat

As I mentioned before, Sea of Thieves keeps all players on a equal playing field, which is very refreshing and makes combat interesting. The only advantage in PvP combat that one player can have over another is their own skill. Sea of Thieves implores a free aim combat system. Pirates notoriously had clunky weapons with terrible accuracy and this translates into the game play. It can be annoying at first, but ultimately it is fun because it adds a new challenge to combat. There will not be any 360 no scopes in Sea of Thieves, at least not intentionally.

As of right now there is only one kind of leveling up and that is through the factions mentioned earlier. That is okay though. Sea of Thieves doesn’t need any leveling up in the combat area. The only way to show experience is through actual skill.

Since skill is essential in combat, it is important to find a weapon that you like. Right now there are only five different weapons available: cutlass, blunderbuss, pistol, Eye of Reach (sniper rifle), and the cannon. Each have their strengths in different kinds of combat. Eye of Reach is good for shooting enemies from the crows nest of the ship and the blunderbuss is good for up close and personal. The cutlass is perfect to always have on hand since it doesn’t need ammo.

Since playing with friends is an essential part of Sea of Thieves, having those friends help in combat is also essential. It is hard to take on skeleton enemies alone, especially when trying to capture a skeleton fort. Skeletons are the only PvE in the game that you will face frequently. There is also the fabled Kraken, but it rarely appears. If, however, the Kraken does appear, fighting with friends is very helpful and entertaining.

PvP combat is extremely fun in Sea of Thieves, but it can be very few and far in between. You can legitimately have a high seas battle full of excitement. Send cannon balls towards enemy pirates or ram them with your ship and engage in hand to hand combat. Hearing the sound of the blunderbuss or the clank of the cutlass will make the player feel like they are truly a pirate. There is nothing more satisfying in Sea of Thieves than secretly robbing a rival crew blind or sinking their ship. Some of the most fun in Sea of Thieves comes through PvP shenanigans.

A pirate looks out over an outpost admiring the surrounding water lush foliage.

Sea of Thieves: Graphics

The in-game graphics are an interesting bundle. On one hand there is the stunningly gorgeous ocean and the beautiful flora on the islands. You can anchor your ship and watch the sunset in the west and think it was real. These visuals are part of what keeps me playing Sea of Thieves. I can’t recall a more realistic ocean in a video game.

On the flip side, the characters are very cartoonish. However, this is intentional and it is fun. It helps keep the game light hearted and enjoyable for everyone. Overall, the graphics are crisp, sharp, and appealing. Sea of Thieves is full of cartoonish characters set in a elegantly colored world.  

Sea of Thieves: Price

Currently Sea of Thieves is sitting at $60 retail price on Xbox One and PC. However, if you have Xbox Game Pass, you can play it for free. One of my quarrels with the game is how much it costs for so little content. The game feels like it is only 50% complete which makes the price seem a little outrageous.

Luckily, there is not a pay to win aspect to the game. There are no loot boxes or in game purchases. This is essential to keeping the game equal for everyone who plays.

Final Verdict: 6/10

I think in the future I will be able to give Sea of Thieves a higher score. While it is certainly an entertaining game to play, there just isn’t enough content to keep me coming back often. Perhaps another review is in order after a few of the content updates are released later this year.


  • Stunning visuals
  • Great for friends
  • Fun for new players and old


  • No Story
  • No long standing variation in quests and equipment upgrades
  • No worthwhile end game
  • No return factor
  • Too much grinding
I spent 27 years creating my character for the RPG of Life. Now I am traveling in an open world writing the stories of the characters I encounter.
Gamer Since: 1996
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Sea of Thieves
Top 3 Favorite Games:Fallout 4, Assassin's Creed 2 , Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2