Why Sea of Thieves Should Stick With PvP

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Why Sea of Thieves Should Stick With PvP

Should Sea of Thieves stop forcing PvP on all its players? We discuss both perspectives and attempt to draw some conclusions!

Trouble on the Sea of Thieves

Soon entering its 5th year of service, it's safe to say that Sea of Thieves is a success story. Rare's pirate sandbox has long been a staple of the Xbox Game Pass. We recently checked in on the title and concluded that it is still one of the best multiplayer experiences you can have.

But there has always been trouble. Back when Sea of Thieves was released, players were confused and reviews were meddling. There was not much to do outside of taking on missions, solving riddles, and gathering treasure. Many put it off as an early access title and it was only after it found a second life, that a wave of content creators and streamers jumped on board and showed the possibilities it offers.

This led to a heated debate because those clips that circled the Sea of Thieves often involved PvP (Player versus Player) situations. Because there's a considerable audience that would love to play the pirate game but hate the prospect of having to engage other players. Since then, a very vocal part of the Sea of Thieves community has been begging Rare to offer the ability to play with only their friends.

While it's easy to point at one side of the argument and debunk their claims, I think it's only fair to try and understand both sides. So let's do just that. We'll argue and explain both perspectives and then try to draw a conclusion.

“The Game Should Include an Offline/PvE Mode”

The prospect of a pirate game that allows you and your friends to team up against the horrors of the sea (of thieves) is already an enticing concept. There are barely any coop adventure games out there that offer the same scale and breadth of content that Sea of Thieves offers.

There are long quests that a crew can undertake that play out grand narratives, as well as voyages that reward players with all kinds of spoils and the opportunity to raise their reputation with the various factions. This will, however, be often interrupted by another crew being out for mischief and plundering. Especially as a new player, it is very frustrating to go on your first big voyage only to be sunk by the way more experienced players are.

Now normally the solution would be to match players by their equipment and skill; the only issue is that Sea of Thieves doesn't do any of that. All the gold you earn from your various activities only unlocks cosmetics for yourself and your ship. The only thing that makes a difference in a fight is usually player experience, which, again, can be really frustrating if you're still learning the basics. And while Sea of Thieves tutorials is fine, they don't prepare you for the wealth of strategies and experience of other pirates.

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And just by the nature of it being an online game, players will often sink other players just for fun. Beating a weaker crew doesn't really cost any resources either, so you could say you're more encouraged to sink and plunder anyone who comes your way.

Having a safe space in which players can at least learn how to play the game, like a sandbox mode in which you can experience all the content, would be nice. And Rare has made an effort toward that by making the Pirates of the Caribean Crossover missions take place in instanced zones instead of the open world.

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“The Game Should Stay Like It Is”

You notice that I used the term new player a whole lot in the section above. Because you'll often hear that players couldn't get into Sea of Thieves because of all the plundering of other players. Players who go out and plunder their fellow pirates are usually veterans who have already understood that the rewards the game hands out are meaningless in the grand scale of things.

Sea of Thieves is, first and foremost, a sandbox set on a gigantic ocean that you share with other crews. You are constantly made aware of that by either finding the leftovers of another crew's voyage or seeing the jolly roger bat against the horizon.

Everything in the game, the voyages, the events on the map like fortresses or ghost ships, and the tall tale story missions are designed to get you to move across the map. Otherwise, nothing would stop you from camping on one island to wait for an unsuspecting victim (this still happens, by the way). The PvP is very much an intended part of the experience, just having to constantly check the horizon for other ships and keeping track of them makes plotting your journey a whole lot more interesting than following your map from A to B.

The argument here is often that without the PvP, Sea of Thieves is just boring. We can trace back to when the game first came out. Players lamented that there was not much to do and the rewards felt pointless because back the players would grind their reputation up to Pirate Legend, only to be disappointed by the rewards of that monumental achievement.

It's the open-world, sandbox nature of Sea of Thieves that keeps it interesting. Your playstyle is very different when playing in an offline environment. Fighting other players can be frustrating, especially when they won't give up. But if you're not a fan of the PvP, you can mitigate your frustration by a lot by just playing more conservatively. Many new players will just hoard gigantic loads of treasure, making them an ideal target. Regularly selling your loot and keeping an eye out for other players will go a long way.

The PvP is also what keeps the game as long-lasting as it is if you're exclusively here for the voyages and adventures. You'll burn through Sea of Thieves very quickly. Again, all these tasks the game gives you are designed to get you moving across the map, they are designed to paint a target on your back and you are supposed to work with these systems.

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So what's the conclusion, then?

Like obviously, we'd love to see more people try and play Sea of Thieves. But the nature of the beast is just, especially for a game that has been online for 4 years, that you'll run into players who are vastly more experienced than you. Similar to games like League of Legends and Counter-Strike, as meta's are evolving, the barrier to entry will only rise for a new player. So how do we mitigate it?

There should be at least a more fleshed-out introduction for new players, especially once you start getting into groups. Online matchmaking isn't exactly the way to go in Sea of Thieves. You'll have a much better time by joining the Sea of Thieves Discord server to find a crew willing to take you under their wing. A lot of the issues new players attribute to PvP is a lack of knowledge, which isn't their fault because nothing will prepare you for being blown up out of nowhere after two hours of treasure hunting.

But it seems like new players are under the impression that they're losing anything by being sunk. This is not the case; any experienced player will tell you that all the reputation ranks and rewards have no effect on how the game is actually played. We could even argue that having a fully customized ship will paint more of a target on your back than your classic wooden sloop.

As much as the PvP aspect of Sea of Thieves might upset you at first, it is a very elemental part of the game. The moment you take it out, everything else will slowly fall apart. You can't just disable one of the core aspects of a game and expect to have the same experience. Without the multiplayer element and the ability to interact with other players, many of the game's qualities would start to lose their value. You can't creatively board one of the skeleton ships or pull out a hearing heist.

So if the PvP still turns you off Sea of Thieves, we highly recommend looking to play a few rounds with more experienced players. Especially on a big galleon, it is easier to make up for each other's mistakes and players on the aforementioned Sea of Thieves Discord are usually very eager to teach new players. As with many other titles of the sandbox type, “Losing is Fun”. Every failure is a learning opportunity and Sea of Thieves rewards players for finding creative solutions and messing around with its sandbox.

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Why Sea of Thieves Should Stick With PvP
Timo Reinecke
Has once claimed that FSH is the only job in FFXIV worth playing and stands by that firmly. Top Guy, Smart Guy, Educated Speaker. (sometimes) Writer of all things FFXIV, FGC, News, Reviews and More