Last month, I started playing Destiny 2 again after spending some time away from the game. While the DLC story missions and Crucible remain enjoyable, I was shocked at how behind I was. There was a higher level cap and a smorgasbord of new gear that rendered irrelevant the legendary and exotic equipment that I spent dozens of hours grinding for. If I wanted to try out a raid or strike, I’d need someone to carry me through it. It was as if all of the time I put into the game over the latter portion of 2017 and early 2018 was for naught. Why, I asked, couldn’t more games be like Sea of Thieves?
I like Sea of Thieves. While it isn’t a blockbuster epic along the lines of God of War, I appreciate it for the experience that it provides. The pirate setting and quests merely represent the foundation and motivation for what you are doing in the world. What the game is really about is setting sail and creating your own adventures with your pals. The game world is easy to get lost in. What happens, though, when you can’t get back to that world every day? Life happens. New games release all the time, all of them vying for your time and attention. It’d be pretty miserable to come back to Sea of Thieves after a break only to get mercilessly griefed by players significantly higher-leveled than you.
Some gamers on social media have criticized Rare’s pirate opus because it doesn’t have a leveling system or traditional progression system. You don’t unlock better gear or improve your stats, and your character doesn’t level up. All of the customization options available to you are purely cosmetic. This has led some gamers to ask, “what’s the point?” Contrarily, I think this may be the game’s best feature.
Last week, a couple of friends from the site and I hopped on Xbox Live to play some Sea of Thieves. With personal issues and other games taking up my time in recent months, it had been a while since I last played. Due to the game’s simple structure and lack of a leveling system, I was able to hop back in without skipping a beat. Sure, my compatriots had some cool-looking new gear, but the cutlass and blunderbuss that I’ve had for months were just as functional. There were new enemies such as those cursed gunpowder-toting skeletons, but I felt just as well-equipped to handle the challenges that lie ahead as my peers that had put many more hours into the game. I wasn’t frustrated that I was under-leveled. My fellow sailors didn’t need to carry me. I was enjoying myself and having a good time.
Sea of Thieves drops you into its world and gives you the tools you need to find adventure without any fuss or frills. You don’t have to worry about being leveled enough to set sail with your buddies, or grinding to get upgraded gear required to complete a quest. It invites you to just play, and that beautiful simplicity is the best thing about Sea of Thieves. You can spend weeks on end trying to get cool-looking gear. Alternatively, you can play it sporadically without missing a beat and can have just as much fun doing so.
This isn’t to insinuate that this type of structure would be appropriate for all games. A game like Call of Duty would fall apart if not for its various leveling and progression systems, for example. The inability to discover more powerful weapons, clothing, and shields would destroy the sense of discovery in a game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
However, this type of structure works extremely well for Sea of Thieves and has made me appreciate the game even more than I already did. It is brilliant on the part of Rare, and truly proves that not all games need overly complex loot and/or leveling systems to be engaging.
What are your thoughts on this, fellow gamers? Let us know down in the comments.