The Xbox One platform has been starved for a heavy-hitting exclusive for a while now, and with the launch of Sea of Thieves, it looks like that hunger has finally been satisfied. A week from release, the game hosts over two million players and has topped sales charts.
Despite all of this success, many people have been turned off from the idea of playing the title due to the fact that the game only provides minimal information about the game world and how to complete activities in it. However, I believe that the open-ended and mysterious nature of Sea of Thieves is an integral part of why the gameplay is so satisfying.
The joy of discovery
In Sea of Thieves, most quests (or voyages, as they're called in-game) give you little information about where you need to go. Often times, all you'll have is a map of an island with a red "X" showing where you'll need to dig for treasure, a wanted poster that says the name of the location of a boss, or just a simple request for a certain type of animal. The game refuses to hold your hand; it's up to you to figure out how to find these places or creatures.
Some argue that in such a vast open world, you need detailed directions to help you find the correct way to go, but I disagree. If you put in the work and the effort, it's not overly difficult to find your way. Between frequent world map scanning, a sharp eye on lookout duty, and environmental awareness, objectives will not elude you for long. The real benefit of this system, though, is the fact that it encourages exploration.
Exploration is vital to the process of completing voyages; more often then not, you'll need to narrow down your search for your voyage objective by sailing around to different islands and checking out everything on them, and during this you are bound to discover several opportunities for activities, both on the seas and the shore. These include underwater shipwrecks full of treasure, camps of skeleton enemies, hidden caves, and even other players, among others.
If the game gave you a quest marker immediately and said "go there", though, the benefits of exploration would never come. If you know where to go and how to get there immediately, you'll never interact with the other things in the game world unless you don't do voyages, which is unintuitive compared to what we have now, which makes it possible to do the side activities as you do the main ones.
What do you think about Sea of Thieves' non-linear quests and the way they drive you to explore the open seas? Let me know in the comments below.
Sea of Thieves is available now for $59.99 on Xbox One, and can be played on a Windows 10 PC via Xbox Play Anywhere. In addition, you can play the game if you are subscribed to the Xbox Game Pass which costs $9.99.
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