If there is one thing most people agree on, it’s that Sea of Thieves doesn’t have a lot of Content™ and that there aren’t enough Things To Do®. The good news is that Rare recently announced its plans to update the game with new stuff. And while that’s good news, I’d like to throw my pirate hat into the ring and suggest a few things Sea of Thieves could add to make the game more interesting.
A big part of the fun in sandbox-style games like Sea of Thieves is emergent stories that come from them. For instance, you might find a message in a bottle that leads you on a treasure hunt, which then leads you into the path of an enemy galleon, which leads to a tense chase on the high seas, which ends in you making an escape as a kraken attacks the galleon. The game accommodates just enough moving parts and goals to keep things interesting, but it could always use more.
Rare hinted at new “AI threats” they would be adding to the game (seemingly in the same vein as the skeleton fort raids based on sliver of info they teased), but I would also like more event in the way the shipwrecks you can find scattered around the map or storms that might drift into your sailing course. These aren’t necessarily hostile encounters, but they do at the very least add a nice distraction or new layer of decision-making to your voyages. Do you risk setting out for more treasure or play it safe and turn in the treasure you already have? Do you chase a ship into a storm or hang back to engage them in calmer waters? To me, these smaller events, quarks, and choices are much more interesting than a boss appearing in the world.
Launching yourself out of a cannon is one of the most fun things to do in Sea of Thieves. It changes a giant weapon into an extremely dangerous and exhilarating form of transportation. A bucket is useful for getting water out of your ship or for blinding people with vomit. You can drop anchor so that your ship doesn’t sail away or to use it like a parking brake to make a sharp turn. Anyway, my point is that the best mechanics and tools in the game are the ones with multiple uses or a bunch of different ways to interact with the world.
I’d like is more stuff like this! I’d love a pirate flag that can also be used as a parachute. I’d like a fishing pole that I can also use to yoink other items from far away. I want bombs that I can use to boost-jump in a pinch.
Rare doesn’t even need to add new items, just update some of the old ones with new interactions. For instance, you find dozens of wooden boards lying around the world that are only useful for occasional ship repairs. You could rework them so that they can be use to fortify specific areas or be used as a blunt weapon. Similarly, cannonballs could be used for more than just ammunition. Having your pirate hold one underwater could allow you to sink faster, helping you dive for sunken treasure.
What I’m getting at is that Sea of Thieves could use more of the wackier tools and interactions that make the game more fun and unpredictable. But most importantly let me be able to shoot bananas out of a cannon so I can quip “I’ve heard of grape shot, but this is ridiculous!”
Currently in Sea of Thieves’s customization options are limited to four weapons (you can carry two at a time) and a good chunk of cosmetic items. More cosmetics are always nice, but I’d like to see a bit more options when it comes to how you play the game. And that doesn’t have to be limited to more weapons. You could have whole new ships or even specialized tools to further cement your playstyle or role on your crew.
For instance, you could have a new ship that is loaded down with more firepower and armor at the cost of maneuverability or a ship with grappling hook to pull in other ships. Maybe on crew member can be equipped with a bag to stash and carry more loot at a time while another has a bandolier that grants them with more ammo or the ability to duel-wield pistols.
Please note that I’m not asking for, like, a loot system or something or more powerful gear. Sea of Thieves’s interest curve doesn’t come from grinding levels or blazing through quests as efficiently as possible. It’s about the interactions between the players and the world. Adding more and different ways for players to interact or express themselves in the world is infinitely more interesting in a multiplayer game than simply giving higher-level players a numerical leg-up on the competition.
The best thing about Sea of Thieves is interacting with other players. The worst thing about Sea of Thieves is interacting with other players. Most players in Sea of Thieves are assholes. And being an asshole all well and good in a game about pirates, but right now the game encourages players to act more like murderous brigands and thugs than charming rouges. In my experience players are more likely to attack on sight without a second though, even if the other player clearly poses no thread, has nothing valuable to steal, or is trying to cooperate in a PvE raid.
There are a few things that could be added that I think could help foster more interesting interactions between crews. First would be to add areas where weapons aren’t allowed. The inns and taverns found in pirate outposts are a perfect place to start! Allow a common area where crews can gather and parlay without the fear of being immediately shot in the face.
Second, offering a system where crews can agree on an alliance would be great as well. Being able to sit down and use actual tools to hash out the terms of a temporary truce or how to divide the booty of a joint voyage would be a great start in fostering better inter-pirate relations. For instance, you could be able to send an invite agreeing on a 60-40 split for all gold made during voyages in the next hour with a rival crew.
And finally, it’d be great if there was a bounty system or something for players who get a little too murder-happy. If the game allowed players to place a bounty on a player or crew who killed them or sank their ship. Give players to option to double-cross alliances but at the risk of putting a bounty on their own head.
It’s not like I want to get rid of skirmishes on the high-seas or daring raids on other players. I’m saying that violence is the go-to way to interact with other strangers you find on your journeys. If you’re going to be a total asshole in Sea of Thieves, you should have to work at it a bit.
Right now in Sea of Thieves there are four animals: snakes, sharks, pigs, and chickens. I guess there are birds flying around shipwrecks and stuff and maybe you can count the kraken as an animal, but that’s it. I want more.
I want to see flamingos, iguanas, and turtles walking around islands. I want to swim with dolphins and whales and turtles and maybe piranhas if it would make for a funny story. Did you know that leopards and ocelots live on Caribbean islands? They’re like the sharks of the land!
But what I want most are pets. What’s a pirate without a parrot on their shoulder? Where’s the dog comically getting drunk with me in the galley? I want a mischievous monkey friend I can give bananas to.
God. I just want something to do with this giant Donkey Kong-esque horde of bananas I have.
Zachary D Long is available on the high seas of Xbox and Twitter as invadingduck.