We thought, since Microsoft's E3 2015, that Rare Ltd.'s Sea of Thieves would be the only pirate-themed game we should have to be paying attention to. And the Microsoft E3 2016 log was nothing but obsessing over when the Sea of Thieves trailer would show up. So when you go to the current year, we expect that Sea of Thieves is getting pretty close to being finished, and Microsoft's E3 2017 revealed that Sea of Thieves is due for an early 2018 release.
...And that's all the pirate content we expected from E3 2017. But, lo and behold, Ubisoft sailed in and reveals Skull & Bones at their conference! Why, this is an open-sea multiplayer pirate adventure as well! Can the market handle TWO pirate games?
...Yes, I believe they can. They're totally different, though you would be forgiven if you just took a glance at their respective websites and thought they're similar:
|Sea of Thieves says you can “BECOME A PIRATE LEGEND”.|
|Skull & Bones says you can “BECOME THE ULTIMATE PIRATE” and “forge your legend”.|
While the taglines each game uses are basically the same thing, it's no coincidence that Sea of Thieves advertises individual pirates, while Skull & Bones advertises individual ships. That's the key difference, and it's more of a difference than it sounds.
Sea of Thieves is all about the quality of the other people you're playing with. No individual pirate has enough power to carry the day: It is all about team-building and teamwork within a huge world for you to explore. Each player will be in a role within one pirate ship, and it's much more about that immersive roleplaying as a pirate. There's definitely still loot-grabbing and combat, though.
It appears that Skull & Bones has each player controlling a ship with NPC crew members. The team is therefore of a bunch of ships working together as a pirate gang. The game is not really about roleplaying as a pirate, but rather taking conquest of the seas with pirate ships. It's much more combat-focused as you try to pick up loot from people, like a lot of other Ubisoft online games. The difference is that rather than controlling a person with powers, you control a ship, so there's different movement mechanics than being on-foot.
Sea of Thieves speaks more to me than Skull & Bones does, as someone who would rather roleplay with great friends than just grind for loot. I suspect that the teammates in Skull & Bones would be measured in their worth by their knowledge of and place in the meta-game, and how min-maxed they are, and whatever. The teammates in Sea of Thieves would be measured in their worth by how sociable they are, along with their commitment to suspending disbelief. Totally different yardsticks (well, both developers favour metres). The Sea of Thieves stick is much closer to what I enjoy in games, but you may think differently and that's okay.
(Then again, I'm the guy who plays For Glory on Super Smash Bros. For Wii U for a social experience.)
It's entirely possible that Ubisoft uses “and” instead of “&” in their game title. Ubisoft is pretty inconsistent in this regard. Meanwhile, Sea of Thieves has always been Sea of Thieves, instead of something like “C of Thieves”. Would that be a rhythm game? Anyway, share your thoughts on the games and their differences here.
Regardless of differences, fans of either game should be on Team Pirate.
What happens if you don't have any friends, though? How do you enjoy the game then?