Sea of Thieves: A SuperParent Guide

Monday, April 2nd, 2018 5:35 am

Walk like a pirate in this online swashbuckling high seas adventure.

Itching to sail the open seas, the spray of saltwater doing great things with your hair as you plot a course for fame, fortune and free rum? Or maybe you just dig saying “Arrrrrrrr!” every couple of minutes. Either way, Microsoft’s Sea of Thieves hopes to give would-be buccaneers a relatively safe space to live out their swashbucklingest fantasies.

Microsoft claims it’s the “fastest selling first-party new IP of its generation,” and with 2 million players carousing around its world in the first week alone, they may well be right. But before you or your wee mateys join the crew, make like a good pirate and spend some time getting a lay of the land.

What is it?
Sea of Thieves is a first-person, cooperative online game set in a large, cartoonish pirate world. Players team up to steer ships, fight enemies (including other players), dig up treasure chests, and, naturally, talk like pirates.

That last part is key. Sea of Thieves was designed to be a very social game. It’s best played with friends, though you can also join a team of up to three strangers. Playing solo is possible but ill-advised, as the game’s systems and mechanics are built for multiple players.

For instance, the simple act of sailing requires one player to steer, another to raise and lower sails, a third to man cannons, and a fourth to keep an eye on the map. While teams of two or three can manage this just fine, lone sea dogs will find it overwhelming and, worse, just not as much fun.

There is very little story in Sea of Thieves; players effectively create their own dramas through their exploits. The primary goal – to become a “Pirate Legend” – requires grinding through many, many missions. For most players, it’s all about doing piratey things with friends.

Is it fun?
With a good crew, absolutely.

Sea of Thieves is all about communication and working together with your shipmates to accomplish goals. This is a game that thrives on emergent, unscripted experiences, like that time you and your pals survived two storms, one shipwreck, three galleon attacks, and several graveyards’ worth of skeletons to cash in four treasure chests. Players can serenade one another with fiddles and hurdy-gurdies as they admire a gorgeous sunrise from the deck of the ship. It’s playful, straightforward and inviting.

Over time, however, Sea of Thieves loses some of its luster. The missions grow repetitive, and all items and gadgets are simply cosmetic upgrades. You never really become a more fearsome or powerful pirate. Microsoft has promised to expand the game’s depth over time, but currently the waters are a bit shallow.

Can my kid play it?
Little kids may love pirates, but pirating isn’t kid’s stuff. With a Teen rating, Sea of Thieves is more appropriate for adults and older teenagers.

Players can swig pirate grog to get drunk, complete with vomiting and a nauseating, screen-blurring stagger. Combat is fast and frequent, from clashing swords with skeletons to sniping at enemy pirates from atop a crow’s nest. Ships trade cannon fire as players race around patching up hulls and bailing out water with buckets. There’s a lot going on in Sea of Thieves, and with very little in the way of tutorials, it can be a daunting game for young players.

The good news is that there is no blood or gore here; skeletons disappear in a puff of smoke when defeated, while fellow human enemies are briefly sent to a ghost ship before respawning elsewhere on the map.

Some parents may be concerned with the game’s online nature. Unless you consistently group up with friends, you’ll likely be playing with strangers. Luck out and partner up with a welcoming crew and you’ll have loads of fun (and possibly make some new friends), but you can just as easily get stuck with rude or aggressive shipmates. Voice chat is supported and prevalent. If you allow older kids to play, make sure they know how to handle themselves online.

Does Johnny Depp have anything to do with this video game?
Nope! 100% Depp-free.

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