Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life review — The greatest video game crossover of all time

Your own virtual pirate amusement park.

Sea Of Thieves A Pirates Life Jack Sparrow
(Image: © Windows Central)

When Rare first unveiled Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life, its recently released collaboration with Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, I almost couldn't believe how grand and majestic the trailer felt. While on paper, this marriage of two iconic pirate franchises seemed like the most appropriate pairing, it was still incredibly surreal to see characters like Davy Jones and Jack Sparrow brought to life in this swashbuckling sandbox game.

As an enormous fan of both Pirates of the Caribbean and Sea of Thieves, it was easy to let my mind run wild with extravagant possibilities of what this expansion might entail. However, even as a long-time player, I wasn't prepared to have my expectations for A Pirate's Life completely blown away in such a spectacular fashion. Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life is not only the most impressive update the title has seen so far but easily the greatest video game crossover of all time.

Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life — What I liked

Sea Of Thieves A Pirates Life Coral

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
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TitleSea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life
Xbox VersionXbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Game Size25GB
Play Time10 hours
Players1-4 Players
Xbox GamePassYes
Launch PriceFree

Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life, the headlining content for the game's third season, is remarkable in so many ways, but the highlights are the utterly jaw-dropping set pieces on display in all five of the newly added Tall Tale adventures. The team at Rare truly outdid itself with the new locations crafted exclusively for this Pirates of the Caribbean adventure. Stunning backdrops like the Sunken Kingdom are brimming with neon coral, luscious aquatic plants, and eye-catching landmarks. This vibrant, sprawling, underwater landscape serves as a compelling contrast to the haunting architecture and ghoulish color palettes featured in the Sea of the Damned, another critical area in A Pirate's Life. In a game where even benign activities like sailing between islands offer loads of picturesque scenery, I was constantly in awe of just how much detail and care was crammed into these gorgeous locales.

These locations essentially serve as your very own virtual pirate amusement park, complete with scenes and dialogue taken straight from the classic Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Imagine being a bright-eyed child with endless imagination experiencing the Pirates of the Caribbean ride for the first time. Now, imagine you have the freedom to get out of the boat and wander this fantastical attraction molded by childhood fantasies at your own leisure. That is in essence what Rare has successfully achieved with Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life. If you have fond memories of Disneyland's famous attraction, this will be a nostalgic treat, and if you've never been, you get an opportunity to experience something arguably better than the real thing.

I couldn't help but be taken aback by how visually remarkable moments like the reveal of the Black Pearl were.

The sheer number of screenshots I've collected while playing Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's life is staggering. As it stands, I've taken a ridiculous 134 pictures while playing and replaying these new Tall Tales. It was next to impossible for me and my crew to make our way through these phenomenal stages without stopping to take seemingly endless pictures alongside the amazing assortment of virtual props. I couldn't help but be taken aback by how visually remarkable moments like the reveal of the Black Pearl were. For me, this obsession with video game photography doesn't carry over to any other title, which is a testament to just how incredible Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life truly looks.

A truly epic original story

Sea Of Thieves A Pirates Life Sunken Pearl

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

While I could comfortably go on about the art direction for several more hours, another aspect of this free DLC I found absolutely captivating was the original story created here. The team at Rare delivered compelling reasons for every single one of these Pirates of the Caribbean characters to exist in Sea of Thieves in meaningful ways. These Tall Tales — the story-driven quests in the game — never once felt forced or out of place in this universe. In fact, without diving into spoiler territory, the writers have implied that Pirates of the Caribbean and the interactions between iconic characters from both franchises have permanently impacted the world and fundamental lore of Sea of Thieves.

The motivations for established characters like Davy Jones as well as newly introduced ones like the Siren Queen are clearly demonstrated in these Tall Tales, even for players who've never seen the films or played the game previously. Obviously, there are some major easter eggs and nods for fans, and if you're up to speed on both Sea of Thieves and Pirates of the Caribbean, it's a pretty special thing to behold. For Sea of Thieves veterans, it's tough not to have a massive smile on your face when seeing Jack Sparrow tease and taunt characters like The Ferryman aboard the Ship of the Damned.

Variety is the spice of the seas

Sea Of Thieves A Pirates Life Crew

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

As someone who's played Sea of Thieves for hundreds of hours since launch and persevered through the year-one grind to Pirate Legend status, I have to give an extra special shoutout to the six new enemy types and additional epic boss encounters brought alongside A Pirate's Life and Season Three. After killing thousands upon thousands of skeletons, it was so refreshing to see enemies like the Sirens and Ocean Crawlers emerge from the depths in Sea of Thieves.

Witnessing dynamic instances where giant crab-beasts are fighting Skeleton Captains on random islands enriches the sandbox experience in such a big way for me. Sea of Thieves has made noticeable strides when it comes to offering more engaging voyages and the introduction of these new enemy types is easily one of the most successful steps yet.

Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life - What I didn't like

Sea Of Thieves A Pirates Life Fort

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

There's no downplaying how much I enjoyed my time with Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life, but from a technical standpoint, it wasn't always smooth sailing. On several occasions, my enjoyment was severely hampered by frustrating, and sometimes progress-blocking, bugs and glitches. The second Tall Tale, The Sunken Pearl, took my crew five tries to complete because certain puzzles were incompletable if any other crew had finished them within a certain period of time. In several instances, the room that contained the grand finale for this Tall Tale was totally inaccessible as well. Needless to say, this put a bit of a damper on my initial experience with The Sunken Pearl.

From a technical standpoint, A Pirate's Life isn't always smooth sailing.

A recently released hotfix is said to address many of the issues players were suffering through with The Sunken Pearl, but unfortunately for me, that's not where the issues stop. During three of the five new Tall Tales, I found myself stuck on objects or trapped inside of areas I couldn't escape from, which forced me to close the game. Normally this wouldn't be a big issue because of the checkpoints sprinkled throughout, but on multiple occasions, I found myself spawning back at my ship, unable to re-enter the instance for that particular Tall Tale. Because it can take upwards of 15 or more minutes to sail to these new locations, these continued setbacks were hard to brush off.

Outside of these technical problems, which will likely be ironed out in the coming weeks, the only legit criticism I have regarding the flow and design of the A Pirate's life campaign involves some slight puzzle repetition. While there are some unique and interesting puzzle mechanics introduced, certain stages relied far too heavily on repeating the same ideas. The Siren Statue music riddles were undoubtedly exciting the first few times, but after solving over a dozen of them, they quickly started losing their appeal.

Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life - Should you play it?

Sea Of Thieves A Pirates Life Waterfall Dab

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Whether you're a pirate legend or someone diving into the game for the first time, Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life is absolutely worth your time and attention. The epic original campaign brings some of Disney's most beloved characters to life in a way fans have never seen before. With loads of new content, a gripping story ingeniously combining two iconic pirate universes, and some amazing new enemies, there has honestly never been a better time to jump into Sea of Thieves.

Ignoring some disappointing technical problems and mild puzzle repetition, I couldn't be happier with what the team at Rare has achieved with Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life. Even my friends who've historically had lukewarm feelings about this pirate sandbox title left these sessions reinvigorated by the possibilities of this game. No matter what your preferences for PvE or PVP might be, A Pirate's Life is worth jumping into for the locations and storytelling alone.

Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life kicks off another bold chapter in the game's story and blows the door wide open for the future. I can't wait for more players to experience this incredible adventure for themselves, especially as it's easily one of the best games on Xbox Game Pass. I've previously stated that Sea of Thieves is one of the most important IPs of the last decade and the incredible creativity and passion dripping from A Pirate's Life only solidifies that belief even further.

Miles Dompier

Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.