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Sea of Thieves beta steals the show and a whole lot more

Eric Ryan, Entertainment Editor

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It’s not often that a beta completely entrances me. Buggy and oversaturated, many games only use closed beta time to fix coding errors or see if they can handle a large amount of players. This was not the case with Sea of Thieves, whose closed beta ran from Jan. 24 to 31. Sea of Thieves is an open world MMO adventure game where you are cast into the open sea as a pirate, and as soon as you load in it sucks you into a world of pirating, raiding and just pure fun.

I started off my adventure trying to figure out how to navigate my ship. The game gives you a sloop if you’re alone or have a single other crewmate, or a galleon if you have a party of three or four. The ships have the basics: cannons to fire, a wheel to turn the shift left or right, an anchor to stop the ship and sails to pick up the winds and speed you to wherever you need to go. There’s not much of a tutorial other than to let you know how to move around the ship, so when I finally learned how to get my ship moving it was a reward in itself until I got caught in a storm and fell off the ship. Since I had it full sails ahead, it flew away into the distance as a shark found me and made me its afternoon snack.

That was my first five minutes, and I immediately fell in love. The game offers so much to learn and can get you absorbed into its world in a matter of seconds, and as I slowly gained my sea legs I found out about treasures and forts and all the challenges along the way. Finding my first sunken ship and looting it while looking out for sharks and other players was a sense of nervous excitement that I always look for in a good game.

Then as I took the treasure chest to my ship, I actually found another player for the first time, and by “found” I mean he was trying to ram me as my ship sat motionless on calm seas. He missed. That started a 15-minute fight where we spent most of our time firing cannons and fixing leaks as they came. It seemed like the ultimate stalemate until we were interrupted by a galleon with a full crew who fired a full broadside barrage into our tiny ships. The enemy sloop sank and he swam over to my ship, shouting “team!” in a thick italian accent, as he climbed up and aided me in fighting the galleon, which we took down after loading ourselves in cannons and launching onto their poop deck as we marauded the unsuspecting crew.

While the game offers many exciting moments like these, it’s the beauty of the open waters that can truly draw you in. The waters move realistically and bounce your ship up and down. If you’re stuck in a storm, the waves rise over your sloop and you fall 10-15 feet trying feebly to keep your ship on course, and more importantly afloat. The different degrees of weather and waves keeps the world feeling alive and full as you either stay downstairs during the storm and feel the rocking of the boat or watch from the crow’s nest as ships in the distance bounce up and down in the water.

Then I got my hands on a galleon as I joined three of my friends on the open seas. This game offers cross compatibility between the Xbox and computers, so our team was split with two PC players and two Xbox players. The full crew changes the game from that of individual survival and control to a team oriented experience. I manned the wheel as another crew member manned the crow’s nest, telling me where to go as the sails blocked my view, and the other two manned the cannons and anchor, prepped for a fight. As Mark opened the world map and figured out where we were headed, Jaime checked the treasure map for clues while Tom took out his accordion and played us some sea shanties. From there we lost hours hunting for treasure and staving off other crews who were also hunting for chests, either from deserted islands or our brig.

I spent a lot of time playing the game by the time the beta ended on the 31st, and it was one of the few games where my mind was on it even after I stopped playing, and I can’t wait to take up the sails once again when Sea of Thieves releases this March.

Eric Ryan is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a linguistics minor. ✉️ [email protected].

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