Sea of Thieves is all about grabbing a ship, grabbing some friends, and grabbing as much treasure as you possibly can through legitimate or less-than means. But whether you’re sailing alone in a speedy sloop, or with a fully crewed Galleon, the way you communicate with other players is the biggest factor in whether your time on the sea of thieves will be kind, or brutal and unforgiving.
In fact, more so than the cannons, swords, and blunderbusses, communication with your fellow players — and, yes, even enemies — is the greatest weapon you have on the high seas.
Ask anyone who’s sunk their fair share of time into Rare’s new shared-world experience and they’ll either tell you that Sea of Thieves’ community is one of the most helpful and welcoming groups they’ve engaged with, or that it’s full of dirty, griefing trolls who’ll kill you and camp your corpse for the nothing more than the sheer pleasure. And to be fair, they’re both right, but talking it out is an option that’s almost forced upon you.
Sea of Thieves is designed in a way where even the simplest tasks are made easier with the help of others, and the by-design murder and titular thieving is enhanced by the fact you’re forced to come face to face with your enemies.
See, when you die in a fight, you’re forced to respawn on the Ferry of the Damned, the local timeout corner where you have to share a space for a minute with every other dead player. This includes your enemies. In a way, it pulls the blinders off, so you’re not solely thinking about murdering the crew who just took your life before you go back to the real world.
In a post on the Sea of Thieves subreddit, user prime_franco summed up a perfect experience to describe the game’s fluid faction nature when communication is involved:
“Last night me and my crew, All random players. Sailed upon a Galleon docked at Plunder Outpost. We deiced to open fire. And the ship responds in kind. They manage to swim on board our ship and one of them kills me. While waiting in the ferry of the damned, The guy that kills me appears. We start chatting and joking about how much we are enjoying the game. When we re spawn. I said to my crew “I was just chatting to one of them, and he’s really nice” forgetting that proximity chat is on. And they heard that.
Both crews decide to stop fighting, and we start having a laugh, chatting. play a tune together, then all say good bye and go our separate ways.
Never seen anything like that in a game before. Absolutely loving my SoT experience.”
Another use, the_denizen, shared his thoughts on the Ferry of the Damned that showcase just how powerful the forced interaction can be:
“I really do think it was a very good idea to have your opponents appear on the ferry with you. It gives you a chance to parley. Last night, my friend and I were intercepted by a galleon. We were in a sloop. Only had two chickens. In the fracass, me and one of them ended up on the ferry together and I was able to tell him they’d wasted their time if they hoped for plunder. He said we were going the same way, and they decided they may as well. We laughed it off and they took our chickens and we went our separate ways. No hard feelings, is the nature of the game.”
I’ve encountered similar experiences to this myself. In one scenario, my friend and I were ambushed attempting to kill three high-level enemy bosses on an island. After 20 minutes and a ton of half-minute conversations with the enemy players we were battling, we all kind of slowly stopped shooting each other on sight, and eventually ended up chatting and taking down the skeletal bosses together.
It was a surreal experience, where in most other games this cycle would have perpetuated until one side got bored. But in Sea of Thieves, the most dangerous enemy – another crew of players – ended up being our greatest asset. And I made a few new Xbox Live friends along the way.
Brandin Tyrrel is IGN’s Xbox Editor. You can find him on Unlocked, or chat over on Twitter at @BrandinTyrrel.