Sea of Thieves is the newest game from Rare, a company known for making some of the most iconic games like Goldeneye 007, Donkey Kong Country, and Perfect Dark Zero. The studio was bought by Microsoft in 2002 and has been developing exclusive games for the Xbox platform.
This is Rare’s first—and much anticipated—MMO game, and what’s most interesting about Sea of Thieves is that if you are a subscriber of Xbox Game Pass, you get the game for free—a huge value for anyone who has it.
This review was written by our “ghost reviewer” Datsm using a reference system that includes an Xbox One X provided by Microsoft, as well as a 65″ Samsung Q9F TV, and a Dolby Atmos sound system with KEF R-series speakers and a Marantz AV7704 pre/pro.
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X, PC
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Resolution: 4k UHD with HDR10
Audio Format: Surround Sound
Release Date: March 20th, 2018
Synopsis (Taken from Xbox.com):
Sea of Thieves offers the essential pirate experience, packed to the seams with sailing and exploring, fighting and plundering, riddle solving and treasure hunting – everything you need to live the pirate life you’ve always dreamed about. With no set roles, you have complete freedom to approach the world, and other players, however you choose.
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
Low Frequency Extension: 95
Positional/Environmental Cues: 95
Dialogue/Mix Quality: 95
The sound design in this game was fantastic. You really felt at sea, with the sound of the waves and the seagulls in the air. I can sum up my thoughts into one experience: In the game you can see storms in the distance, and what I heard as I approached was remarkable. When lightning flashed, I could hear it in the distance and the flash lined up with the delay you would expect with real lightning.
As I moved closer to the storm, the rain began to fall. I could distinctly hear the rain hitting different parts of the ship. As I moved around to adjust the sail, I could clearly hear the wind sound changing, coinciding with the ship changing direction. As the storm got more intense, I was hearing that change as well.
My palms got sweaty as I tried to fix leaks and adjust the sails of the ship as I played the game by myself. The surround-sound audio experience of the storm lead me to conclude this game is a reference-quality title when it comes to sound mixing.
All the other audio in the game was equally great. Dialogue, gun shots, swinging the sword, walking around the ship or islands all had distinct sounds and environments, making the gaming experience very engaging.
Black Levels: 92
Color Reproduction: 95
Sea of Thieves did not just sound great, it also looked amazing in 4K HDR.
I was most impressed by the water effects and the sun. This is the new standard for how water should look in a video game. The shadows you get in daylight are fantastic. As you move the camera around the screen, the lighting from the sun looks very real. When you dive into the water, the light coming from the surface looks “correct” as well.
I also really liked the way the game portrayed nighttime. Looking at the stars and the colors in the sky, I was amazed at what I saw. However it was not perfect; this is were I saw some of the seams of the game having to do with black levels and where the night sky meetss the skyline. But unless you are a nitpicker, you won;t see a thing wrong with it and it’ll come across as seamless.
It was a little harder than usual to review the video quality because most of the graphics are animated, but Rare made it all work. The colors and the characters look vibrant. The only time I thought the video looked poor was while on the ship where when you look at certain items, they look unnatural. For example, barrels looked great but then the ship’s steering wheel looked wrapped-on.
I think this dissonance is due to the sea looking so good; it sets a high bar for the visuals you expect from the game. Fire from a torch also looked a little odd at night and created a small blooming effect, but this may have more to do with the TV than the graphics, as it tended to happen often in darker scenes.
Sea of Thieves is a reference game for the Xbox One X. The audio and visuals are fantastic and you should use it to show off your system to your family and friends.
Reference Review System:
KEF R700, R600, R800ds, R50, R400b
Emotiva XPA 5 and XPA 2
Xbox One X
Samsung Q9F (2017)