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‘Sea of Thieves’ E3 2017 Impressions

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While there were several high points among the seemingly endless barrage of Xbox game announcements at Microsoft’s E3 2017 press conference, none impressed more than Sea of Thieves. The game has had a rather tumultuous development cycle (to put it lightly), but it seems like it’s finally coming out at the beginning of next year. And man, does it look fantastic.

Right off the bat, Rare absolutely nailed the presentation here. The narrator was hilarious, feeling like an authentic fit to the game. The appropriately cartoonish visuals are simple but gorgeous. The lighting effects against the water looked great, and the dynamic weather will likely be a godsend during long voyages. A day and night cycle is also a nice touch, and delivered some eye-catching vistas.

Risk-taking is at the heart of Sea of Thieves. Do you jump in the water and scour a sunken ship for supplies and risk being attacked by sharks? What about searching for treasure in a cave and risking losing the battle against the treasure’s former owners (now gun-toting skeletons)? Should you travel to multiple islands and stack up your loot before heading to an outpost, or play it safe and go one at a time? Each crew has to make these decisions, and it’ll be interesting to see how different personalities clash in the process.

The sense of progression here is key. The crew in the trailer follows a series of riddles leading them to buried treasure. Each time they solve one riddle another reveals itself on the treasure map. Not only is this a smart mechanic that encourages collaborative thinking, but it also gives the more thoughtful crew members a task while the more combat-oriented can keep guard or man the ship. I hope that the final games has riddles that really force crews to sit back and bounce ideas off each other as they try to figure out where the next treasure chest lies.

Combat plays its role in Sea of Thieves as well. From the trailer it looks like players can choose from a pistol or sword as their primary weapons, though whether or not there are variations of these remains to be seen. The fights on display looked slow but fun, especially against other players. Naval combat looked especially riveting; the fact that some players could man the cannons while others could actually launch themselves from a cannon onto the enemy ship was a genuine “wow” moment.

If there’s anything to take away from what we saw today, it’s that Sea of Thieves looks like it’s coming along better than most of us thought. Gathering a crew of friends (or soon-to-be friends) and roaming the high seas in search of treasure never looked so well-designed. The game is still fairly far off, but in terms of pure fun, Sea of Thieves may be tough to beat.

Brent fell head over heels for writing at the ripe age of seven and hasn't looked back since. His first love is the JRPG, but he can enjoy anything with a good hook and a pop of color. When he isn't writing about the latest indie release or binging gaming coverage on YouTube, you can find Brent watching and critiquing all manner of anime. Send him recommendations or ask to visit his island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons @CreamBasics on Twitter.

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