"Sea of Thieves" and "Killing Floor 2" - Games That Ate Up My Summer

The theme of this post is “aimless grind” because both Sea of Thieves and Killing Floor 2 are exclusively “live service” style multiplayer games, i.e. they have no single player, and no story (arguably, there is lore), they both have repetitive FPS combat-based gameplay, and you pretty much mostly grind just because it is satisfying to.

Sea of Thieves (2018) by Rare Ltd

I’ve played a lot of Sea Of Thieves this summer, especially considering I only got the game a month or two ago. There’s just something really satisfying about having a ship full of loot and spending a good 20 minutes cashing it all in. I remember when this game launched and a lot of people were disappointed about the amount of content in the game, apparently, there wasn’t much to do apart from do the voyages (missions) from the three main factions (I’ll get into that later). That’s not really the case anymore, I got into this game about 2 years after the initial release, and the live service/fine wine model seems to have worked well for Rare. There’s more world events, more enemies, there’s a dedicated PvP mode, there are so many accessibility options, there’s more gameplay mechanics, more lore, more cosmetics, and there’s still more to come as the dev team has been consistently putting out monthly content updates.

So what do you do in the game? Well, it’s up to you, that’s the great part! The game describes itself as a “shared pirate sandbox”, but it does give its players some direction: to become “Pirate Legend”. When they initially said that in-game, I thought that it was just something vague like they were telling me to “be the best pirate you can be”, but it’s actually something built into the game, and one of the only true forms of progression. Once you load into the game, you will generally pick a voyage (mission) from one of the three main factions, the Gold Hoarders, the Order of Souls, and the Merchant Alliance, you get different kinds of missions depending on who you choose to get missions from. If you go to the Gold Hoarders they will give you treasure maps where you have to find the island, go to the marked “X” and dig, they can also give you riddles that you have to solve, they can also give you a compass where you have to find a key that leads to a giant vault of loot, you normally get chests as rewards which you can then sell back to the Gold Hoarders. If you go with the Order of Souls, you will get a PvE (player vs NPC enemies) mission, which will get you mysterious skulls that you can sell to the Order of Souls. If you go to the Merchant Alliance you will get fetch quests. Needless to say that Merchant is the worst to play as and I’d actively avoid playing their missions if Pirate Legend didn’t exist. Why? Well because with each mission you do, and with each thing you sell to each faction, you get more “reputation” for that faction, and you need level 50 in each of the three factions to get Pirate Legend. Being Pirate legend doesn’t grant you many benefits mind you, it just gives you another faction to get missions from called Athena’s Fortune, their missions are just a mixture of the three main ones. In the base game, this and some PvE fort raids were the only things you could do (along with fighting and interacting with other players).

Now there are Emissaries, you get to put up a flag on your ship to represent a faction (you can represent any of the main three, Athenas Fortune and another PvP [player vs player] faction called Reaper’s Bones), there are many in world events, like ghost fleets to sink that give ghost loot, ancient sea creatures to fight, more combat options, more variety of raid bosses, shipwrecks to explore, there are pets, and there are pseudo-story-missions called Tall Tales.

Anyway, that’s the basis of the gameplay, it’s a first-person game, there’s decent combat mechanics, cool lore, the core gameplay loop is a little slow since there’s a fair amount of downtime while sailing, but overall its pretty fun from a gameplay perspective. The lack of overall goal is understandable, but also a bit demotivating sometimes.

Oh, also the Devils Roar sucks never go to those islands it’s no fun in the slightest and probably isn’t worth the effort of going there.

Sea of Thieves Screenshot

Aesthetically, this game is truly gorgeous and proves that art style is always more important than sheer detail. The world of Sea of Thieves is very cartoony and every frame feels like it’s been ripped straight out of a comic book (they do actually have comics books too), the main areas just have such a rich and saturated colour palette, and the water is absolutely perfect, it genuinely feels real most of the time. All the models and props are quite a low resolution for a modern game but that works in favour of the art style, I’m sure it also works well to keep the game from burning everyone’s hardware since I bet the water simulation is very very computationally expensive, and the draw distance is quite far.

Anyway, I would recommend this game if you play with friends, on your own its a bit boring, and it can feel quite janky in some places, it’s a fairly buggy game, consistent bugs I find are inventories not letting me transfer items, there’s a lot of places where your character gets stuck, etc.

Sea of Thieves is available on Steam for PC, Windows Store for PC, and Xbox One

Killing Floor 2 (2016) by Tripwire Interactive

I won’t lie, I haven’t played that much of this game, it seems fun enough, given the only other zombie survival game I’ve played was in Call of Duty’s zombie modes. Again though, I’m more of a singleplayer kind of guy, and this is very clearly a multiplayer game. The goal is simply to survive as many waves of zombies as you can, which is quite satisfying once you’ve reached a high wave, but once you realise that you’re just repeating the same thing over and over again it quickly becomes boring. I mean in every game you’re just doing the same stuff over and over again to some extent, but I think that a fun game will normally manage to hide that repetitiveness by tweaking the gameplay every now and then to make it feel new or different, but when you’re just shooting the same 3 kinds of zombies (or Zed’s as they’re called here), it’s pretty hard to hide the repetition, and to some extent the “waves” of zombies actually reinforce it. So yeah, while I can still load the game up and play it for an hour or two, I find that I can’t get lost in it as I can with Civilization or Sea of Thieves or Rainbow Six Siege.

This game is also kind of garbage aesthetically, in my opinion, everything looks like a stock Unity store asset that they’ve just plugged into the game. They seem to want to go for an edgy punk vibe, but it just ends up looking cheap. The gore is nice though. I also find the gunplay to be very floaty and weird… but that may be simply because it is quite a low budget game.

Again, I would recommend if you’re playing with a friend and just want something brainless to play after work, but don’t look here for something that you can spend hundreds of hours in.

Killing Floor 2 is available on Steam for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One and is worth it if it’s on sale